AUTHOR'S NOTE: Okay, all the angst, all the drama, all the pain ... it all led up to this final chapter. I hope you like it! Many many many thanks to those of you who have reviewed along the way. You guys keep me going.

Part 19: X Marks the Spot

Spike was all soft touches and vulnerable eyes, cocky defenses having simply dropped in a way Xander had never seen except after the club, after the blood. And, in a way, that made sense, because the blood had been a symbol of love, in a way, until everything went wrong.

Spike looked shell-shocked, stroking Xander's skin as if he'd never seen anything so wonderful. Somewhere along the way, they'd both lost their shirts, and Spike had him flat on the carpet, had him trapped, straddling his hips, a knee on either side, his ass occasionally lowering to brush against Xander's groin in a way that was a probably-intentional tease. Spike leaned over him, smooth hands running slowly along Xander's chest, up to his shoulders, down his arms.

Bracing himself on his hands, Spike leaned even closer, kissing Xander gently on the lips, then on the side of his neck, on the curve of a pectoral muscle, on that slightly hollowed spot between chest and belly. Xander lay helpless beneath such a tender onslaught. He'd never expected this.

I probably should have, though. I saw how he was with Buffy, how sweet he was when she let him, when she wasn't pushing him away or punching him in the face. I always thought he was pathetic, wearing his heart on his sleeve like that, letting everything show on his face when she just wanted him to go away. Then getting all gruff and proud and snarky when his feelings were hurt. I saw how he was. I saw his face. I should have known he'd be like this.

Spike pressed a kiss to Xander's other pectoral muscle and then raised up to look at him, just looking at him for a minute. Then, "Say it again." Spike's face was serious, his eyes still watching Xander intently for ... something. Xander didn't know what. But he was pretty sure he knew what Spike wanted him to say.

"I love you."

Spike stared at him a long time, gaze shifting slightly back and forth to examine Xander's eyes deeply. Xander just looked back at him. He'd already come clean and had nothing to hide.

Spike finally blinked and looked a little confused but mostly awed. "Never had somebody say that to me before."

Xander grinned. "Oh, please. In over a hundred years of looking like that, you've never had groupies?"

Spike's face was serious. "Never anybody I wanted to have say it."

Xander hesitated, then, "Never anybody you loved, you mean?"

Spike looked away.

"But you wanted me to say it?"

Spike scowled and started to move away to stand up.

"Hey, hey," Xander reached out, clutched an arm and the side of Spike's waist, pulled him back down, shaking his head and saying, "It's okay. Just ... c'mere." And a smile.

Come on. You don't have to say it. I'm not going to twist your arm or anything. But don't pull an Angel on me and get all broody and go stalking off into the night with your coat billowing behind you. Because ... that? Already been done. Done and old and tired. Let's do this instead. Because it is so very very not-tired. Wide awake, in fact. All body parts alert and interested.

Spike let himself be easily coaxed back, almost as if he hadn't really wanted to leave in the first place. Xander twined arms around him, arms that looked very brown against Spike's pale skin, very muscular against Spike's wiry frame. But Spike didn't look small, not really, because almost immediately he was pinning Xander to the floor again, hands pushing on Xander's shoulders to hold him down a moment as he smirked like sex personified. "All right then. Be a good boy and lie still."

The sound of the zipper was unexpectedly loud. And then Spike's hand was sliding inside to cup Xander's cock through his boxers. He'd been mostly hard already, but now he could feel his dick twitch and grow in Spike's grasp.

Don't move. Don't move. Spike said to hold still, and if I don't hold still he might stop what he's doing and I so do not want him to stop what he's doing...

But then Spike was shifting around, and told Xander to lift up a bit, and then there was Xandery nakedness. And a moment later there was Spike nakedness, as well. And then Spike was back on the floor, back straddling Xander's hips, hands on Xander's skin, one hand returning to Xander's cock, while Spike's own dick pressed almost flat against his pale belly.

Xander reached up a hand, leaned up a bit, reaching out, but Spike pushed him flat again. "Later," he growled. And then he was pressing hard, biting kisses along the side of Xander's neck, down across his chest, lingering to suck a nipple a moment before biting just enough to have Xander arching off the floor with a gasp.

The position - Xander lying flat on the floor while Spike crouched above him, pressing mouth to flesh - was so much like what they'd done at the club that it brought all the intense emotions of that scene flooding back. Xander remembered the look in Spike's eyes, and it wasn't all that different from now.

But all thought came to an abrupt halt when he felt Spike's tongue.

On his dick.

Spike's tongue on his dick, just circling the head. Then a slow slide down until Xander's dick was all the way inside Spike's mouth.

Oh dear god.

Xander clutched at the carpet, but it didn't have any give, so coarse fibers ripped and came loose in his hands.

They'd never done this before.

Xander closed his eyes and tried not to come, tried not to hyperventilate, tried not to pass out. It wasn't the technique - which was good, sure, but Anya'd been good too - it was the complete shock. He'd never expected Spike to ... Spike had always been the one with the power. The Master Vampire. The arrogant bastard who said, "Get on your knees and suck me off."

This was ... new.

"Oh god, Spike," he gasped helplessly. "Stop. Please. Please, stop."

Spike pulled back a bit and looked up the length of Xander's body. His eyebrows were lowered a bit, his face wary. "Why?"

Xander reached out toward him again - hooking his hands around Spike's arms, pulling him up so that he lay full-length on top of Xander's body, their cocks angling awkwardly for a moment but then nestled side-by-side - and explained breathlessly, "Because if you didn't stop I was going to come." And then he kissed Spike, long and slow and thorough, wanting to thank him but knowing he couldn't do so with words or Spike would pull away. So he just kissed him, letting his hands roam the muscled planes of Spike's back, the skin so smooth and unblemished, the shoulder blades so sharp in his slender frame, the nape of his neck so soft and vulnerable.

And Spike kissed him back, their tongues stroking against each other in thrusts and parries and lingering caresses. As the kiss grew deeper and harder, Spike braced his hands on the carpet and began to move, rubbing their bodies together, rubbing their cocks against each other. Without any lube, it was almost painful - could get to be painful after a while - but for the moment Xander couldn't help but grasp Spike by the buttocks and grind up against him, making them both groan.

"Get the slick, yeah?" Spike's voice was low as he lifted off to give Xander room to move.

Right. Not nervous about this. Just because last time it ended with me getting my head bashed in, and the only other time was during the time loop when Spike thought I was treating him like a whore and it was all surrounded by me getting my throat slit and him getting dusted and ... okay ... yeah ... so we don't have a great track record when it comes to the whole full-on anal sex thing. But, yeah, not nervous. Okay, maybe just a little. A little nervous. "Nervo," perhaps. Or maybe "ner." Maybe even "ne." I am the gay knight who says "ne."

But Spike was watching him expectantly, so Xander obediently jumped up, and Spike fell back onto the carpet in a pose that would have looked ridiculously contrived on anyone else. One knee bent, the other leg extended, resting back on his elbows. Most people would've looked like they were trying to be sexy. Spike just looked sexy. And his cock was long and smooth and hard. Xander hurried back with the lube.

Then in a fluid movement, Spike was rolling over, onto his stomach, body undulating slightly, hips raised a bit off the ground. "Want you to fuck me," he said into the arm that was folded under his face.

Wha-huh?

Xander stood, dumbfounded. "Me?" Okay, that sounded kind of squeaky and not at all sexy. But he had sort of assumed that Spike would...

Spike turned his head so he could send a sidelong glance in Xander's direction. "Figure with all those months to think about it, you've probably got a good idea of what to do, yeah?"

Xander was still frozen in place, standing naked in his living room with a bottle of lube in his hand, staring at a naked Spike on the floor. It was like some really bizarre tableau. Still life with lubricant. "Uh ... actually ... I pretty much always thought about you being the one doing the doing. I mean, during the time loop..." He knew he was talking too fast. And Spike was lying there alone and naked on the floor, and if it was Xander there he'd be feeling really embarrassed, but Spike doesn't get embarrassed.

But then Spike was moving again, starting to roll - oh those muscles! - starting to sit up, and that got Xander rushing forward. Spike muttered, "If you don't want to..."

Xander caught him before he'd had time to move much, caught him as he rolled onto his side, and pressed their bodies together, his front to Spike's back, arms going around that slender body to touch and grasp. He stroked Spike's cock once, just once, with a squeeze, and his voice was husky when he said, "I want to. I definitely want to." And Spike rolled easily onto his stomach again, arching his back a bit to rub his ass against Xander's dick.

"Well, then." Spike didn't say anything more, but his tone seemed to indicate some kind of permission. Some kind of difference from the way things had been before. Some kind of blessing and urging for Xander to do whatever he wanted, rather than following orders. Like he was saying, "Go ahead."

Like maybe Spike wanted to see what Xander would do, if he wasn't ordered around.

Xander leaned down to lay a kiss between Spike's shoulder blades, and Spike went completely still beneath him. Then he trailed a finger along Spike's spine, feeling the subtle bumps of the vertebrae, down and down Spike's back until he reached the little dip that signalled the start of the crack of Spike's ass, and then down further.

He heard Spike breathe sharply, slim hips lifting slightly higher as if he was trying to help, trying to give Xander better access.

Brushing a finger softly against Spike's hole, watching the muscles in that pale back bunch and roll in reaction, Xander said hesitantly, "I know I should probably do other stuff ... foreplay stuff..."

Spike made a sound that was sort of like a laugh, then replied huskily, "Can do the whole song and dance another time. Right now, I just want you to fuck me."

Those words made Xander catch his breath.

Right. Right. Okay. Well, uh, without further ado...

The lube was cold on his fingers, so he rubbed them together to try to warm it up. He wasn't sure if Spike would really care, but cold lube just seemed ... rude. Inconsiderate. When it seemed sufficiently warm, he slid his lubey right hand down between Spike's cheeks. Making a small noise in his throat, Spike spread his legs a bit to make it easier.

Such a helpful little vampire.

The whole lubing up process was pretty familiar, since he'd done it to himself plenty of times, but Spike's little jerks and noises of reaction made it a hell of a lot more exciting. Wanting to touch more, Xander slid his body up, hand still busy down below, and pressed a kiss to the back of Spike's neck. Spike made a little noise and moved his head foreward so that his nape was fully exposed.

Gosh. I wonder what he wants.

Xander leaned in and bit. Not hard. Just a little bite, really. But Spike bucked and hissed, "Harder." So Xander bit the back of Spike's neck again, harder this time, not hard enough to draw blood, but maybe enough to leave a mark, even on a vampire, and Spike started actually growling.

"Fuck!"

Xander whispered mischievously in his ear, "Is that a request?"

Spike pressed his ass back onto Xander's fingers more insistently. "It's an order."

Xander grinned at that. "You don't get to give me orders tonight. In fact, maybe I should be giving the orders."

Spike was panting. "Next time. For now, just get on with it, for fuck's sake!"

Suddenly the nerves were back. This really hadn't gone well in the past. And it wasn't like Xander's fantasies at all. He pulled his fingers out of Spike's body and hesitated.

"Can we ..." He didn't want to sound stupid.

Spike looked back over one shoulder. "Can we what, luv?"

"I just ... when I thought about it ... I usually ... it was face-to-face."

Spike eyed him thoughtfully. "A bit easier this way."

Xander nodded, not saying anything. Okay. Whatever. Not like I'm disappointed. Much.

But then Spike was rolling over onto his back with an amused smile. "You'll want a pillow. Something firm."

Xander nodded again, a little nervous, and looked around. He got up and fetched one of the couch pillows. "Will this work?"

Spike just grinned. "Slide it under my bum." And after a bit of wiggling he said, "This should do us all right."

And then Spike was all spread out in front of him and he couldn't help it. "Wait. There's something I have to do."

Spike frowned up at him. "Now?"

"Yeah, now."

He trailed his hands along Spike's stomach muscles, feeling them twitch and tremble subtly at his touch. Then he leaned over, over Spike's flat stomach, over those well-defined abs, and he leaned down and bit, not hard, just enough to test the firmness of the muscle, just enough to feel the sensation of the skin in his teeth, just enough to make Spike jerk and yelp, "Christ!"

Xander looked up into Spike's face and grinned. "I've been wanting to do that since the time loop." Spike looked dazed, all wide eyes and parted lips. A shiver ran through him, and Xander could feel it.

I guess he liked that.

It seemed like the right time, so Xander put some lube on his dick - argh! cold! - and lined himself up. He thrust slowly.

And didn't go in. His dick slipped away and down.

Embarrassed, Xander tried to line up again, but he overcompensated and this thrust went awry the other direction, sending his cock sliding up to nudge behind Spike's balls.

"I'm sorry," Xander muttered, humiliated. "It's ... the angle is different."

Spike just reached down a hand and grasped Xander's dick around the base, helping him line up. Xander thrust.

And still didn't go in.

"Fuck! Am I supposed to say 'Open sesame' or something? Are you doing this on purpose?"

Spike blinked up at him, obviously surprised. "What?"

"Well, you're the expert here."

Spike's face went blank. "Make a lot of assumptions, don't you?"

Xander was having trouble computing that, but then his brain wasn't functioning at its best right now. "Well, you know about stuff..."

"Yeah, well, seen a lot in my time. Doesn't necessarily mean I tried it all myself."

Is Spike saying...? "So ... have you..."

His face giving nothing away, Spike asked flatly, "Does it really matter?"

Xander thought about that. "No. Not really."

"Right answer," Spike said, his face immediately losing that blank look, and kissed him. And this time, whether it was because he was more relaxed or whether it was because he'd figured it out after a few tries or whether it was just chance, Xander thrust ... and slid inside.

The first few thrusts were shallow, slow, and careful. He didn't want to hurt Spike by going too fast, but he also didn't want to slip out and have another embarrassing misdirection. He was frowning and trying to make sure he was doing it right, when Spike said dryly, "Bloody hell, Xander. It's not calculus."

He looked at Spike's face, and the smirk there made him relax again. He stretched to kiss Spike at the same time that he thrust again, a little harder this time, sliding further inside. It was tight and it was Spike and he just wanted to hammer away until they both came their brains out, but he didn't want Spike to feel like he was being used. Didn't want him to feel like he was being treated like a whore. But the kiss turned nasty and carnal and wonderful and Xander didn't even realize he'd been speeding up his thrusts until Spike broke away from the kiss to let his head fall back onto the floor, gasping, "Oh, fuck yeah!"

Licking his lips, Xander kept up the faster pace, bracing himself with one hand on the floor so that he could reach the other down to stroke Spike's cock, making Spike buck again with a groan.

They fell into a sort of rhythm, with Spike writhing beneath him, fucking himself on Xander's cock at the same time that Xander was fucking himself into Spike's ass. Spike alternated between scrabbling against the floor, trying to get leverage, and grasping at Xander's arms and shoulders, muttering and growling and cursing. "Harder ... oh god ... like that ... just like that ... yeah ... oh fuck..."

Xander lasted longer than he'd thought he would, probably because he was so focused on Spike's face, Spike's cock, Spike's litany of curses and praises. When he felt Spike's cock begin to throb in his hand, felt the telltale pulse, and then felt the thick liquid on his fingers, he hadn't even realized how close he was himself. With a few more rough thrusts, he groaned and came.

Not wanting to crush Spike, he rolled over and lay beside him on the floor, trying to catch his breath. He stared at the stucco ceiling. Tiny stalagmites of death, waiting to fall and impale his naked, sweaty body. Whoever invented stucco was some kind of sadistic freak.

When his heart was beating close to normal and he could talk without panting, Xander turned to look at Spike, whose eyes were closed.

"Hey," Xander said gently. "Don't fall asleep on the floor. The least I can do is offer you a bed."

Spike opened his eyes and turned to look at him a moment before nodding once and saying, "All right."

They made it to the bed and Spike climbed beneath the blankets, clasping his hands behind his head and getting comfortable. Xander started to climb in, but after he sat down on the mattress he suddenly realized how thirsty he was. Post-sex beverage ... always a plus.

"Actually, I'm going to get myself some water. Want some?"

"Yeah."

Xander turned to get up, but heard Spike from behind him, quiet. "Used to find it easy to say, you know."

Xander started to say, "Easy to say what?" but that would be stupid, because he was pretty sure he knew. So he just sat there, still facing away as if he was giving Spike some strange kind of privacy.

"Even with Buffy, even when she hated me, I was saying it all the time. Easy as pie. Now, though ... it's not so easy."

Xander turned around then and asked gently, "Because of what happened to Buffy?" But Spike shook his head, so Xander tried again. "Because of how messed up things were with you and me?" Spike shook his head again. Xander started to get frustrated. "Because you've gone mute and decided to become a mime?"

"Because it's bloody different when it's mutual, all right?"

That made Xander stop. "Why?"

"There's more at risk, now isn't there?" It wasn't really a question. So Xander didn't reply. He just waited. Eventually, Spike added quietly, "If it isn't mutual, you've got nothing ... so you've got nothing to lose."

Xander didn't know what to say to that, because it was sort of true, in a Spike-logic sort of way. They just watched each other for a few seconds, and then Spike smiled a very small, very sweet smile, and said, "Could use that drink of water, pet."

Xander nodded and smiled and tried to send some kind of message with his eyes, but he wasn't sure what it was. Something to do with reassurance or hope or maybe shared nervousness. He was feeling such a jumble that he wasn't sure what Spike might see on his face, but he wasn't going to try to hide.

When Spike smiled a bit wider and nudged him, Xander nodded and chuckled and said, "Right. Water. Coming right up." And he got up and walked naked to the kitchen.

As he filled a tall glass with tap water and then took a long drink, he found himself looking at the refrigerator door. Among all the take-out menus and to-do lists and random magnets, there was an obvious blank space. The postcard was gone ... he didn't even remember what had happened to it. Maybe Spike took it? It didn't matter, really. He refilled the glass from the tap, then rearranged the spare magnets on the fridge to form an X in the blank space. X is for Xander. X marks the spot.

When he got back to the bedroom, Spike was still sprawled on his back with his hands clasped behind his head, snoring quietly with the blankets covering him only to the waist. How can someone so defensive fall asleep so quickly? He had angry pink rug burns on his elbows, and probably in a few other places Xander couldn't see at the moment.

Xander put the glass of water on the bedside table and climbed carefully into the bed, trying not to jiggle the mattress too much. Spike didn't stir. He pulled the blankets over himself and just watched Spike for a minute, so relaxed and vulnerable in sleep.

This was new, too.

After a little while, Xander turned off the light and rolled over on his side. One of his knees touched Spike's knee under the covers, and stayed there. And then he fell asleep.

-o-o-o-

THE END

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