Xander slammed the door shut behind him, ignoring the shout that came from upstairs as he stomped down into his basement apartment. The last thing he needed was another argument today. He should have just given in to the urge to stay in bed this morning. The end would have been the same but at least he'd have been in a better mood about it.

"Welcome home, Sunshine."

Xander glared at the bleached parasite on his couch, a walking aggravation in leather that had been dumped on him without more than a word of warning. He was supposed to take care of Spike whether he wanted to or not, regardless of the fact that he could barely keep himself fed. He'd been charged with the dubious please of being Spike's keeper, watching the vampire to make sure he didn't get into any trouble. Not that it was hard to keep an eye on the vampire since he never left, at least not anytime Xander was home. No, the problem was that with Spike there then he had to behave. The only privacy he got was in the bathroom and even then he knew Spike was on the other side of the thin door, probably able to hear everything he did with that keen vampiric hearing.

"Leave me alone, Spike," he groused, keeping his eyes locked in front of him as he headed for the small bed tossed in the corner of his apartment. He grabbed the cleanest looking pair of pajama pants off the floor and turned towards the bathroom.

Better not to look, to pretend Spike wasn't here, because after the day he'd had he really couldn't deal with the extra aggravation. He was sure he'd do or say something that would end up bad, all because he stupidly wanted something he knew he couldn't have. Hell, he shouldn't even want it but he did because he was just weird like that, which in a way fit in with the rest of the uber-pathetic weirdness that was his life. Maybe if Spike had a glimmer of interest in him it wouldn't be so pathetic but he was more than certain that the blonde vampire had absolutely no interest in him. Xander was just a walking happy meal that supplied Spike with cable.

Said vampire had apparently had lost the ability to comprehend the English language because he continued chatting, though his gaze remained fixed on the glowing television in front of him. "You're home early."

"I hadn't noticed. Thanks for the update, Captain Obvious." Xander sniped as he slammed the bathroom door behind him. He was being unnecessarily rude, he knew, but he couldn't bring himself to care too much about it.

Xander stared at the shower for a long moment before deciding he was too tired for it. He hadn't been at work long enough to pick up the usual stench of pizza so he could get away with it for now. Shucking off his clothes, he slipped into the sweat pants and brushed his teeth. He left the dirty, pizza-stained clothes on the floor, too tired and annoyed with himself to bother with more than that.

Spike was waiting outside the bathroom with a slight frown on his face, watching Xander wordlessly as he brushed past. Xander kept his eyes averted, focusing instead on the bed on the opposite side of the room. He flipped off the TV as he crossed the basement.

"Oi, I was watching that."

Xander really couldn't care. He flopped onto the bed and rolled so that his back was to Spike. "I'm going to bed," he announced unnecessarily, pulling the covers over his head. The bed was hard and lumpy. Tired as he was, sleep seemed a long time in coming.

"What crawled up your ass and died?" Spike's voice was louder, closer. Xander could almost feel him storm over to the bed.

He lifted the blankets off his head long enough to snipe back. "What part of 'leave me alone' do you not comprehend, fangless? All that bleach finally seep into your brain and erode your understanding of the English language?"

The covers were yanked off him just as he was about to pull them back up and he rolled over to face Spike, putting all the heat he could muster into a glare. "Leave. Me. Alone."

Spike watched him for a moment with an unreadable expression before his face shifted into a mocking smile. "You got fired." Spike was a cat who had just gotten the cream.

"Fuck off, Spike." If his eyes could shoot fire, Spike would be ash by now.

"Heh, so that's what's got your panties in a knot. Poor little dough-boy added yet another failure to the pitiful excuse of his life."

They both knew Spike had gone too far. Spike was ready for him when Xander surged off the bed, catching his punch easily and reversing Xander's momentum. He fell on the bed and pushed up again, ready to try again even if it was a loosing battle. Spike was ready for him, pinning him down before he even left the bed. Xander struggled, desperately fighting an immovable object.

"Oi."

Xander ignored Spike and continued to fight even though he was only bruising himself. Thin hands tightened their grip, grinding the bones of his wrists together painfully. He might have cried out, if pain hadn't been so familiar to him.

"Oi!" Spike shouted in his face, startling him enough that he stilled, staring up at Spike as he panted for breath.

"Done?" Spike's voice was devoid of emotion, his eyes blank. Xander thought he saw a hint of concern hiding in the back of blue eyes but he knew he was deluding himself.

Xander nodded. Spike's grip loosened. He waited until he felt Spike ease off before he pushed up again, throwing the vampire off of him. His feet touched the floor but that was as far as he got before Spike grabbed his shoulder, throwing him back onto the bed. He bounced, his head smacking against the wall hard enough to stun him. By the time he gathered enough wits to move, Spike had him firmly pinned again. Xander tried the relaxing trick again but Spike didn't ease off.

"Get off me," he growled.

"No." Spike shot back.

"Yes!" He heaved with his hips, bucking Spike slightly but all he got for his efforts was a knee in his stomach.

"Xander!" Spike barked the command, snapping into game face with fangs bared and he stilled, instinctive fear bringing his rage up short in the face of a snarling vampire.

"You got fired?"

Xander glared. "I don't want to talk about it Spike, now get off me."

"Not until you answer the question."

"Why, so you can mock me about it? That gonna give you some cheap thrill?" Xander snarled, rage rising up at him when he thought about how Spike could take something so important to him and turn it into a pitiful joke. "Well, sure, Spike. I'm feeling generous. Might as well give you a few good laughs. It's what I'm good at, right?" It was all he was good at apparently. "Yeah, I got fired. If you'd been paying attention you would already have known that but I guess you only pay attention to the flashing pictures on the TV."

Spike growled, the sound as low and dangerous as anything Xander had ever heard. If he had any sense in him, Xander would have known to shut up. He'd gone too far. But shutting up was one of the many things Xander failed at.

The expected joking never came, but Xander just figured Spike was waiting to rub it in later, possibly in front of the entire gang. "What'd you do this time?"

"I didn't do anything!" He shouted. A pale hand pressed over his mouth, stifling the angry tirade that threatened to pour out. He lashed out with his free hand instead, shoving hard against Spike's shoulder. The vampire rocked slightly, his hand moving from Xander's mouth to cuff him on the side of the head before pinning him again.

"That was stupid, boy," Spike snarled.

"My whole life is stupid, in case you hadn't noticed, fangless. Why stop now?" Anger welled up again, simmering up to boil under his skin. He was mad at Spike for being an ass, but most of his anger was directed at himself. No matter what he did, how hard he tried, he was bound to fail. His lot in life was that of a loser and he played the role well.

"It doesn't have to be." The words startled him enough to relax partially against the bed. Spike was just waiting to tease him, he told himself, and he gathered his anger as a shield. He'd been hurt enough today, hurt enough in his life. It needed to stop.

"Well it is, Spike. I'm a loser. You're a loser by association. I've got this whole loser vibe, it taints everything I touch."

"That ain't it."

"It is!" Xander shouted, straining up against the hands that pinned him. Sometime during their snarling Spike had shifted back to his human face but there were faint ridges visible along his brow, as if he was ready to shift back at a moment's notice.

"It bloody ain't, moron," Spike retorted calmly. "You're setting yourself up to fail, that's what this is. Bet that whole bloody thing at the pizza place today was someone else's fault, wasn't it?"

Xander glared but didn't retort, the humiliation of the day's events still burning through him. Embarrassment was nothing new to him, his life was a long string of it, but today stood somewhere near the top of the worst days of his life, second only to that time he'd been courted by a slime demon that thought it a great idea to whisk Xander off to his slimy lair. At least this time, he didn't have the entire gang to laugh at him. Instead he just got the full attention of the worst of his semi-friends.

"So you play the white knight and cover for one of the sorry lot you call coworkers, or were you just the scapegoat this time?"

"My coworkers are decent people," Xander shot back. They were. For the most part. Sometimes. Not when they left him hanging out in the spotlight though, or when they shrank away and let Xander take the fall for something that wasn't even his doing.

"So it's the latter then. What happen, you lose your spine somewhere between here and work?"

"Are you calling me a coward?" Xander felt rage boiling in his stomach and he shoved up, not that it did much good against vampiric strength.

"I am, whelp. Spine's are good for more than just keeping your back straight, ya know?"

"I have a spine," he shouted.

"Then what's bloody wrong with it?" Spike shouted back, matching him rage for rage. "How about pulling it out and using it on one of your own kind? You've got the balls to face down Master vampires but you can't even talk back to some weak little humans?"

"There's more to it than that," Xander growled but with less confidence this time.

"Yeah?" Spike snapped. "Not the way I see it."

"That's the problem!" He was back to shouting again. "You don't see things! Anything. It's two different worlds out there, demons and people. You can't go barging through and hitting things in the people world. It's not that simple, but you don't know that 'cause you don't see anything."

"I see you."

One simple statement was all it took to drain the fight out of him. The anger fled him and try as he might he couldn't dredge it up. He stared up at emotionless eyes with envy, wishing he could feel that way. Instead he felt tired and drained, weak and pathetic and as worthless as a wooden nickel at the arcade.

"You don't see me," he responded flatly.

"I do." Xander scoffed but Spike continued to talk over him. "I see you get up at ungodly hours of the morning to go to a job you hate where people ignore you and treat you like garbage. I see you come back here to take shit from two people whose only contribution to your life was the conception of it. I see you scrape together all your pennies to fight out a half decent life for yourself only to let your bum parents take it from you, or to have you squander it feeling sorry for some poor bloke on the street that's hit a hard spot and is too stupid to pick himself up out of it. I see you waste away your life in mediocrity and you don't do a damn thing about it."

Xander blinked, not sure quite what to say in his own defense.

"I've also seen you fight against odds wiser men would have backed away from and win," Spike continued with a smirk. "I've seen you save lives, and hold your own once in a rare while in a fight. I've seen you come up with ideas that have saved us all and I've seen you loyally stand by your friends. You're not a loser, Xander, so don't make yourself out to be."

Xander tried to look away but Spike forced him back to face him. The hands holding him down had fallen away sometime during Spike's tirade but Xander had lost the will to escape.

"Stop making yourself fail."

Xander opened his mouth to protest, to say that it wasn't his fault, but then he found something else occupying that space, something cold and wet and not at all unwelcome.

He was too surprised to do anything but lay there for the first kiss. Then Spike moved away and he was fairly certain that his loser-self whined pitifully at the parting.

The second kiss went better. His mind pulled itself out of shock enough for him to kiss back, and he felt a sharp pang of regret as Spike pulled away. The regret washed away when he realized Spike wasn't moving, only shifting, rolling his shoulders until the vampire's shirt fell away.

Then Spike was kissing him again and Xander let him, even going so far as to initiate a few kisses on his own. The way he figured, Spike already had enough on him to damage him for the rest of his life, he might as well throw the rest of himself in, all or nothing. The all part wasn't that difficult a feat considering he had a very handsome vampire draped across him. Hard would have been pushing away from someone who seemed for a moment to understand him. Hard would have been telling Spike to stop.

Cold hands explored him, roving far and wide across Xander's exposed skin before they settled against the waistband of his pants. With far more gentleness than Xander had ever expected the vampire capable of, Spike divested Xander of his meager clothing.

He thought he should be nervous, get all flustered and bothered because of what they were doing, but the way Spike looked at him melted all that away and he was left lying on the sheets with a firm sense of disbelief and a growing want. That want was currently making itself well known in the press between their bodies, a similar need pressing down against Xander's thigh and he knew there was at least something real between them. Even if the distant concepts of love and connection were just a figment of Xander's imagination he could hold onto the proof of the physical need. Even losers were sometimes wanted.

Neither of them spoke but somehow they worked together enough to get Spike out of his pants. They reached down at the same time, a cool hand engulfing Xander while his own sought out the vampire's erection. His breath came in loud puffs during the fleeting moments when he was allowed to breath, Spike's mouth asserting dominance over Xander's body. The vampire pressed hard down on him, stealing his breath away as the vampire's hand gripped him firmly around the center. Xander thrust his hips up into the strong grip, moaning wantonly into Spike's mouth. Closing his eyes, he let sensation overwhelm him, almost forgetting to keep up the pace on Spike's cock. If need was all he could have then he'd take that meager scrap of affection and be content with it.

He'd never touched another guy like this before, at least not with the same meaning. There'd been some boyhood touching with his friend Jesse but it had never been quite so... enthralling. That was mere curiosity. This was like touching himself only with more friction, more heat. The only coherent part of his brain told him it was odd for a vampire to generate heat but he wasn't worried about logic at this moment. He was worried about pleasure, though his mind still dreamed up fantasies of understanding and affection.

Spike moved, rubbing and purring like a giant furless blood-sucking cat. His mouth released Xander's to nip at the side of his throat, nothing painful but enough to remind him that this cat had very large teeth. The thought that Spike had his teeth so close to Xander's neck should have scared him, reminded him of the fact that Spike could hurt him, that he was essentially living with a killer that was tamed by whim only, but instead it, like the firm weight of a body ten times stronger than his own pressing down on him, was oddly comforting. It was protection, the first true protection anyone had ever offered him. He knew by morning that feeling would be gone but for now he reveled in the thought of being safe and loved, even if it was an illusion.

"You're thinking too much." Spike growled the words in his ear before squeezing tightly on Xander's length, drawing his hand up Xander with a long, firm stroke.

Xander shouted, a wordless cry bouncing off the ceiling of the basement. The world went blind before his eyes as milky liquid shot out over Spike's hand. Spike gave him a fleeting second's rest before pulling their hands away. He brought Xander's legs up to wrap around Spike's waist and thrust, rocking their bodies together in a dry slide of flesh on flesh. Spike's still hard cock brushed against his own fading erection and Spike grunted, his hands squeezing tight into Xander's hips. There'd be bruises there, just a few out of the many he'd acquired this night but he couldn't bring himself to mind. Xander panted, envious of Spike's lack of breath as the vampire suddenly tensed, slamming their hips together hard as he came on Xander's stomach.

An era passed in the fleeting stillness of the room, both of their bodies poised and taunt. Then Spike lowered himself down, sinking Xander deeper into the mattress and for all visible purposes ready to sleep.

"Spike?" Xander pushed half-heartedly at the still figure on top of him.

Spike didn't move.

With a sigh Xander resigned himself to a morning full of pins and needles as he woke up with limbs that had gone numb overnight. Maybe it wasn't so bad being a loser, if this was what it got him.