Midnight Clear
by Kayla

Disclaimer: Sadly, I have yet to talk their current owners into parting with them. So they still aren't mine. (Dear Santa, I have been a very good girl this year. My Christmas list is as follows: Spike, Xander, any other assorted Buffy boy, chocolate, handcuffs, rope, anything in leather...)

Note: Part of the Slash Advent Calendar Challenge - Dec. 8th

Spike was worried.

Not that he'd ever admit to it, at least not in public and definitely without some type of significant (and preferably sexual) bribe. But still...

As December progressed, he watched in concern while Xander grew ever more withdrawn and depressed. Nothing seemed to help. Sex on the couch wasn't working, sex in the shower had been a bust, and sex on the kitchen table...well, that incident was better left unmentioned.

Spike briefly entertained the thought of trying something other than sex to cheer Xander up, then decided it was time to lay off the JD.

Another couple of days passed, and Spike grew more and more frustrated. He'd been forced to add sex against the wall, sex in the car, and sex in the back room of the Magic Box to his list of failures. The situation was becoming rather emasculating. In sheer desperation, Spike did something he'd sworn he'd never do.

He asked for help.

Buffy shrugged. "He gets like this sometimes. Every couple of years around Christmas he just seems to get...sad." She gave Spike a consoling pat on the shoulder. "Don't worry, he'll snap out of it soon. It's just holiday blues."

Spike scowled. "This is serious! This isn't holiday blues, this is celibacy!"

Buffy shuddered. "And yet again we begin to venture into the area clearly labeled TMI. How many time do I have to tell you that I really don't want to know about your sex life?"

"What sex life?!" Spike shouted. "I'm. Not. Getting. Any!"

"Well with an attitude like that, I'm not surprised," Buffy muttered. "Get a grip, Spike. I mean, it's not like your entire relationship with Xander is based on sex."

Spike blinked. "Er...um...right."

"Look, why don't you talk to Willow? She's known Xander since they were kids, maybe she can come up with something to snap him out of his funk."

"I really don't know what to tell you," Willow said. "He used to get like this all the time when we were younger, but the last couple of years have been pretty good. I wouldn't worry, though. He always seemed to bounce back after Christmas."

"But...why? Why'd he get all angsty around Christmas, and what made him feel better?"

Willow shook her head. "I'm sorry, I just don't know. It's not something he ever shared with me, and I didn't want to pry."

Spike snorted. "That'd be a first," he mumbled inaudibly. In a more normal tone he said wryly, "Well thanks. Fat lot of help you chits turned out to be. Guess it's up to me to figure him out." 'As usual,' he thought but was wise enough not to speak aloud.

"Hey Spike!" Willow called as he began to walk away. When he turned, she smiled. "Good luck. If anyone can pull him out of it, you can."

"Thanks, Red," he replied softly.

Spike fidgeted on the sofa, watching as Xander wandered listlessly through their apartment. Finally, he worked up the nerve to speak. "Xander?" he ventured tentatively.


"We...we need to talk." Spike was proud of himself for managing to say that without choking on the words.

Xander paused, worry flooding his face. He groped his way towards the sofa and collapsed into it. "Well that can't be good," he said weakly. "It's never good when someone says that."

Spike hastened to reassure him. "S'not bad, luv. Just...look, I noticed things have been a bit...off lately."

Xander chewed on his lip in concern. "Is this about the table thing? Because I explained about that, right? It was just--"

"No, it's not that. Well, sort of. But not really. See, it's more..." Spike stuttered to a halt, groping for the words.

"Are you mad at me?"

The softly spoken question, asked in a forlorn tone of voice that made Spike want to wrap Xander in cotton and hid him from the world, seemed to free Spike's vocal chords. "Never, pet," he stated firmly. Deciding his 'big bad' image could just bugger off for a bit, he pulled Xander to him and cuddled him close.

They rocked gently for a few minutes, then Spike continued. "Something's bothering you, Xan. I dunno what it is, and I dunno how to fix it. But you've been sad and moping and generally depressed and...I just want to make it better, damn it!"

Xander sighed. "I know," he admitted after a moment. "I can't explain it, Spike. And it hasn't happened in years, so I really wasn't expecting it again. I don't know why, but it started when I was about 10. December just started to kind of...wear me down. It's like nothing would ever be right, no matter how good things really were. Like there was this thick fog smothering me and making me...dull."

"What made it stop?"

Xander gave a half-hearted grin. "Being away helped."

Spike froze. "You want to leave?" he asked gruffly.

"No! No," Xander said quickly. "That's not what I meant. See," he looked a bit sheepish as he made his confession, "I used to go outside on Christmas Eve and set up a little tent in the yard. And I'd have my thermos of hot chocolate, and I snuggle down in my thick, warm sleeping bag and watch the stars. Watch the night." He closed his eyes in remembrance. "It was always so beautiful. So big. So there. It made me feel..." He struggled for the right word, then shrugged. "It made me feel."

"Oh." Spike continued to hold him, then frowned when he realized something. "So you'd stay out there all night?"

Xander wondered at the slight hint of growl in the question. "Um, yeah."

"Were you insane?!" Spike shook him. "This is the Hellmouth, you could have died doing that! Bloody hell, how'd you manage to survive to adulthood?"

"Just lucky I guess." He grinned. "What can I say, I was young and stupid." He kissed Spike's chin. "Besides, I have you to watch out for me now."

"Damn right," Spike snarled as he held Xander even closer. He sighed when Xander snuggled down with a yawn and dozed off. His head dropped back and he stared at the ceiling, willing his thoughts into a semblance of order. He had some planning to do.

Spike surveyed his handiwork with satisfaction. It wasn't exactly a suite at the Ritz - or even a room at the Motel 6 for that matter - but it wasn't half bad.

"Spike? Are you out here?"

Bounding to his feet, Spike called out, "Over here!"

Xander rounded the corner, still talking. "Why are we on the roof, Spike? It's freezing out here! You said you--oh!"

Spike smiled nervously. "Well?" He spread out his arms, awaiting Xander's judgment.

Xander stared in amazement at the setup. Somehow, Spike had managed to almost perfectly recreate the setting in which Xander had spent many a Christmas Eve. Granted, the tent was a bit bigger and fancier and the air mattress was a new addition, but the downy sleeping bag looked as comforting as ever, and the two gleaming silver thermoses promised chocolaty warmth.

"Xan?" Spike silently cursed the squeak in his voice and cleared his throat. "Is it...good?"

Eyes misty, Xander beamed. "It's perfect Spike. Why...how...what...?"

"Said it always made you feel better, didn't you?" Spike shrugged and looked away, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Quickly, Xander stepped up to Spike and hugged him tight, kissing him deeply. "You," he finally said breathlessly, "are a big softie."

Spike scowled. "Am not," he retorted petulantly, lip poking out in a pout.

"Are too," Xander retorted. Shivering slightly, he eyed the sleeping bag. "I like the mattress."

"Can't have you coming down sick from lying on the cold hard cement," Spike said, trying to sound nonchalant. He took Xander's hand and led him into the tent.

They knelt on the mattress and worked to open the sleeping bag. Xander laughed. "Spike, this thing is only made for one person."

"I know." Spike leered. "Cozier like that, innit?"

Still laughing, Xander kicked off his shoes and slid into the bag, holing the edge up for Spike. The vampire squirmed in quickly, and the two lay there quietly for a while, pressed tightly together. Spike watched in fascination as Xander's breath made plumes of wispy smoke in the cool night air. He was so fascinated by it that Xander's voice startled him.

"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Xander tore his eyes away from the stars and awarded Spike another of his bright smiles. "Thank you," he said, voice thick with emotion.

"No big, pet." He reached for on of the thermoses and handed it to Xander. "Here, gotta stay warm."

Xander opened it and took a long sip, then set it aside. "I can think of a better way to keep warm," he whispered.

"What's that?"

With a grin, Xander zipped up the tent flap, blocking out the faint light of the moon. "Come here, you," he growled as he wriggled enough to put Spike under him.

As their groins pressed together, proving just how interested they both were, Spike let out a heartfelt groan of relief. "'Bout time, Xan!" he gasped out, twining his legs around Xander's.

"I know," Xander replied. He kissed his lover once more, ghosting his lips lightly over Spike's. "Merry Christmas, Spike."

"Mmmm, Merry Christmas, Xan. Now shut up and kiss me again."

Xander obeyed.