Not-So-Deaf Ears

Spike slowly opened his eyes onto the darkened living room. Had he dreamed the low, rumbling growl, or was there something in the apartment? Behind him on the couch, Xander slept on.

He didn't smell anything other than him, the whelp, sex, and the ghost of the dozen take-out burritos from El Taco Loco that had served as dinner. Slowly he sat up, scanning the room. Nothing out of the ordinary. He shifted to gameface to trigger his full senses.

A faint, chuckling gurgle, somewhere close. He turned his head for triangulation, then slumped. Xander burped lightly in his sleep, triggering another of those mysterious gurgles.

Spike studied his lover. It was easy to forget how noisy human bodies were. Bubblings and gurgles and pops and creaks and clicks. Being surrounded by cacaphonous humans could drive a vampire crazy. That one particular human, though . . .

He leaned down over Xander, listening to the boy's body.

The tacos were sitting as well as could be expected, what with the extra hot sauce. Spike twitched at the sounds of digestion, trying not to remember that his body had done those sorts of things too, once upon a time. Being a proper Victorian, bodily functions were not something he had generally acknowledged. It had almost been a relief to fastidious William not to have to deal with that sort of thing any more.

Xander's lungs whooshed reassuringly, and his heart thump-thumped steadily. Spike had spent a few nights early on with his ear against Xander's chest, listening to the rhythm and the echos and the tides of blood through the arteries. He'd heard a brief syncopation one night and demanded Xander see his doctor, only to be told that an occasional stutter in the rhythm was to be expected in a system that never got a chance to rest.

Xander shifted, then grunted at the clunk of his left hipbones shifting. Spike glared at the joint. The life of a Scooby was hard on the body, and Xander was slowly losing the resilience of adolescence. On bad days, Spike could hear clicks from Xander's knees and elbows, and there was a hitch in the right shoulder that worried him. When Xander had loudly popped his neck back into alignment once, Spike had been ready to call an ambulance.

The less said about the wet sounds of infected sinuses the better.

Spike stroked Xander's forehead as gently as he could, careful not to wake him. So damned fragile. So damned mortal and human. Vampire bodies were silent unless something was wrong. He and Dru would lay in perfect stillness, listening to the shift of the world with themselves at the quiet center. He thought occasionally about rescuing Xander from noisy mortality, but the idea of a Xander who was silent in any way seemed go against the laws of the universe.

He settled back down, but he knew better than to think he'd get any sleep. He closed his eyes and drifted, cataloging all the sounds from the body next to him, trying not to listen for the tick of a clock slowing down.