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Facing Fear1-7 | Facing Fear 8-14
By Suki Blue
“What was the name of this thing again?”
Spike huffed and glared at his companion in arms. “It's a bloody Spatatula. *If* you had been paying attention earlier instead of grieving over that sodding demon bint, you would have bloody well known that, and I wouldn't have to keep repeating myself.”
“Spike, you could spell that name out for me a hundred times over and I still wouldn't remember it. I kind of have this blind spot for stupidly long demon names. And FYI, I wasn't grieving…..I was contemplating the past, making sense of the future, sorting out…..”
“Oh bloody hell, Harris. Enough with the babble. Bloody demon is gonna hear us coming a mile off.”
Xander was silent and Spike counted back from five in his head.
“It's not like *I* was madly in love with her and she just left me, was it?”
Spike rolled his eyes “Nooo”
“We had a good time, I wouldn't commit, so she left. So when you think about it, I technically left her.”
“Yeah, ok, Harris. You left her. She left you. Who bloody cares? Just shut up, get with the game and I'll take you for a beer after. You can ponder the failing that is your love life over a game of pool.”
“Alright, alright. You're buying though, right? Anya pretty much cleaned me out. Not that that was anything new. No sooner than I would bring home a pay check, she would be out spending it on god knows…..”
“Harris” Spike warned.
“Okaay, I'm quiet. Quietness is here. You'll hear no more from me……No-sireee. Quiet as a mouse. Wouldn't even know I was here. Quiet incarnate, that's me.”
Spike stopped in his tracks and turned to give Xander a full on glare. “No patients incarnate, that's *me* Now if you don't shut up in the next ten seconds I'm gonna ram this stake so far up your arse I'll be able to pick your teeth with it!”
Spike shook his head in exasperation and puzzlement. “No. Stake.”
Xander pointed “Uh, no, Spike? Spatula, behind you.”
Spike suddenly felt the presence of a demon and he spun in the direction of Xander's pointed finger. “Bugger”
He turned quickly back to Xander and re-pronounced the demons name through gritted angry teeth. “Spatatula, you bloody idiot. Now look what you've done! I wanted to sneak up on it. Ambush the sodding thing”
Xander pointed again “Err, Spike? I think it's trying to ambush us right now.”
“Bloody hell. Pet, get back!”
Spike placed a powerful hand into the centre of Xander's chest and pushed him backwards, sending him flying into a bush and onto the ground with a pained thud. Wincing, he sat up and rubbed at an ass cheek that was probably going to bruise. He listened to the furious fight that was going on outside the shrubbery, ready to jump up and help if Spike should need him. Strangely, his mind kept drifting and he could only think one thing. Did Spike just call me pet?
Spike swore and brushed off blue flaky skin from his duster. “Damn Spatatula, never heard of moisturiser, clearly.”
The fight had been short. Flaky but short. This Spatatula had been female. Half the size of the male version. For this he was grateful. A male would have taken quite a bit more effort to dispose of.
Spike glanced around, suddenly remembering that he'd tossed his companion somewhere in the undergrowth. Spike caught site of him and smirked. The boy was having some sort of disagreement with a bush, a fight had broken out and it looked like the shrub was winning.
“You alright over there, Harris? That plant putting up struggle is it?”
“Stupid bush. I'm all caught up. Damn it! Ow!”
“Bleedin hell. Hang on a minute. Let me do it.”
Spike dropped his weapon and steamrolled over to the worked up human.
“Just hold still…..don't….stop moving….I can't get hold of it…”
“Spike, it's down my pants now. Ow! Careful.”
“I'm trying to be careful, just stop wiggling. I can't get it out when you're writhing all over the place.”
“Ahh! It's digging in me, Spike. Get it out.”
“I'm doing my best. Here you hold it and I'll pull.”
“Ok, but be gentle yeah, I think it's stuck right in me.”
“Gentle ain't in my vocabulary, mate. Just….just….hang on, turn around.”
“Right. Hold on then. Let me just position myself a little more over here. Right that's it. Now brace yourself.”
“Why? What are you going to do?”
“OWW! Fuck, Spike. Do you have to be so rough? That really hurt”
“Gimme a break, Harris. You're free aren't yer? Besides it can't have hurt all that…….”
Spike pulled Xander the rest of the way out of the bush and was shocked to see a large gash running from the boy's navel down into his pants.
“Yes, oh. Next time you push me into a bush, could you please make sure it's a nice safe one with no prickly leaves or thorns.”
“I'll see what I can do, mate. In the meantime though, let's head back to your gaff, get that cleaned up before you get an infection, die, and I get the blame.”
“You're all heart, Spike.”
“And don't you forget it.”
Xander was suddenly so tired. He turned his key in the lock and pushed open the apartment door. He felt Spike push past him and watched slightly irritated as the vampire headed straight for the fridge.
“Oh help yourself, Spike, please, why don't you?”
Spike slammed the fridge door closed. “I would if you had anything decent in there. You eat such crap.”
“I do not! That is quality pizza in that fridge, you know”
“And how old is that *quality* pizza?”
“Only a few days, thank you fangless”
“*Only* Bleedin' hell, Harris! You're gonna poison yourself. I wish you bloody would”
As if on cue, Xander's skin paled to a deathly white, his eyes rolled up into his head and he fell backwards, hitting the wall and sliding slowly down it.
Spike glanced around the room suspiciously “Err, if anyone's listening. Anya or *anyone* else. I didn't mean that. That wasn't an *actual* wish.”
Spike waited for a reply but got none.
The vampire quickly rushed over to the fallen human and checked for a pulse.
He couldn't find one.
Spike tore across the room, snatched up the phone and dialled
“Yeah, I need an ambulance, quick……my mate…he's…he's not breathing….”
Xander's eyes flashed open and he gasped for much needed air.
The vampire did a double take. “Oh yes he is. My mistake….he was…..asleep. Pardon me.”
Spike hung up the phone and ran back over to the pale human.
“Fuck. Are you ok? Pet? Speak to me?”
Xander groaned and tried to sit up. “Yeah….I guess.”
“Fucking hell, Harris. You scared the bleedin' shit out of me.” He swiped at Xander's head
“Hey! What was that for? Sickly person here!”
“Well, don't die on me, then. It's not polite.”
“Oh, so sorry. Next time I'll raise my hand and ask permission first…..Hey! What do you mean? I'm not dead. Am I?” Xander suddenly heaved and clutched at his stomach. “Oh, Spike. I think I'm gonna…..”
“Bloody hell, not on me you're not!”
Spike hauled Xander into a standing position and dragged him to the bathroom, where the human was promptly sick next to the toilette.
“Well that's just lovely.”
Spike pulled Xander over to the bath tub and draped him over the side. “There. You can't possibly miss now.”
Xander moaned, twisted around and threw up over Spike's shoes.
Spike threw his hands in the air “Could things get any worse?”
Xander passed out
“When will I learn to keep my big mouth shut?”
Willow stared down at her snoring friend. “How long has he been like this?”
“About half an hour. He's been sick too, course that was after he died.”
“Yeah, well, no. I thought he was dead. He just fell over and stopped breathing. Didn't have a pulse or nothin'. Then, quick as he died, he was alive again! Then he was sick, and then he passed out.”
“Goddess! Do you think we should try and wake him?”
“Naah. Let him rest. I pinched him earlier, he seemed ok.” Spike rubbed at the back of his head in memory of the consequences of pinching someone that wanted to sleep.
“Ok, well, I think we should call Giles. This sounds I little weird. I mean, dying then un-dying? That's not normal. I mean, it couldn't get more not normal. Not unless he sprouted breasts and a pair of wings. That actually happened to a guy in my old chem class. It was so weird, I'd never seen a pair of……………”
“You will be. Look, could we *not* call Giles? Couldn't you just mojo him back to his normal, irritating, healthy self.”
“No, Spike! We don't know what we're dealing with here. We need to find out who or what did this to him and why.”
Spike swore under his breath.
“Spike? Why don't you want to call Giles?”
“Obvious innit? Xander was in my charge. I was supposed to be looking out for him. And look what happened.” Spike pointed at the bed. “You tell Giles, Giles tells Buffy, I end up inside a vacuum cleaner.”
“That wouldn't happen.”
“Sure about that, Red? They all hate me, you know. You and jabber mouth here are the only ones that even talk to me properly. And that's no consolation. Harris would talk to a fire hydrant if it meant he could babble uninterrupted. I'm just one step up.”
“Spike, that's not true. We all like you, even Buffy. We just don't always show it.”
Willow sighed and took pity on the vampire. “Look, tell me what happened tonight. Maybe we can work it out without involving the others.”
Spike retrieved the first aid kit and relayed the evening's events to the Wicca.
“……And I swear it didn't touch him. Then I helped him out of the bush and we came back here. That's when he collapsed.”
Spike lifted Xander's shirt and examined the wound that the plant had inflicted. He'd meant to look at it earlier but what with all the dying and vomiting it had slipped his mind.
“Spike? What's that?”
“Oh, turns out Harris attracts plants as well as demons. Bush got `im good and proper”
“Oh my! A plant did that? It looks really sore…….Spike? What did this bush look like?”
“Alright, keep yer knickers on. It was a big round thing, Spikey leaves, thorny stems aaaand I think it had flowers. Yeah, it did. Little purple and red ones.”
“I don't think I've ever seen one of those, I wonder what it is?”
“Well don't look at me, I don't bloody know! Perhaps I should go back and ask it!”
Willow frowned at the vampire and brushed off the sarcasm. “You think you'll be alright looking after him for a while? I'm going to pop home and get a couple of books. I think Xander may have been poisoned by that plant.”
Spike's eyes widened. “Well go on then, go! Find out what it is! Xan'll be fine here with me, I'll look after him…..Go on, what yer waiting for? Go, go!”
“Ok, I'm going!” Willow started to walk away, but turned back at the bedroom door. “Spike? Where are your shoes?”
“In the bath.”
Willow wished she hadn't asked.
Xander cracked open an eye and felt something cool inside his pants. He cracked open the other eye and lifted his head.
“Spike? Why have you got your hand in my pants?”
“Don't panic, Harris. I'm just `aving a look.”
“At the wound, idiot!”
“From the bush.”
Spike huffed. “You really do have the memory span of a bloody tea pot. The bush. In the woods. Pay attention.”
Spike finished spreading antiseptic over the wound and he sat back looking glum.
“What is it?”
“You, you look all…..upset”
Spike was indignant. “I don't get upset!”
Xander wasn't buying it. His head may be currently spinning like a disco ball, but he hadn't quite lost grip of his senses. “Then what?”
“It's just…..I didn't mean it you know.” Spike said quietly
“Crickey, Harris! What I said, just before you…..just before you died. I said that I wished you would die of food poisoning. But, I didn't mean it. When you collapsed, I thought it was me, I thought I'd done it. Looks like I was wrong though. I mean, if it had happened because I'd wished it, then you'd still be dead. So what I'm tying to say is….I'm glad you're not dead….or not still dead. Whatever way you want to look at it.”
“Wow, full on Spike babble, that's a first. Thanks….for not wishing I was still dead…….this conversation is weird.”
“That it is, mate. Change of subject? How yer feeling?”
“Um, thirsty? It's ok though, I can go get something….”
“No you don't. Stay exactly where you are. Don't want you passing out again. Makes the place look untidy. I'll get you some water”
Spike walked to the door and turned. He pointed a stern finger at Xander. “And don't even think about dying again or I'll be right pissed off.”
“Got it. No dying. I can do that.”
Spike walked to the sink and filled a glass with water. He had to admit that he was worried about the whelp. Why? God only knows. The boy was loud mouthed, irritating and sexy….no, no. That's not right, that's not what he meant. Xander certainly wasn't sexy when he was throwing up all over his docs. Well, at least it wasn't his duster.
Muttering, Spike made his way back to the bedroom. When he reached the door he froze. Xander was slumped over the pillows. He was deathly white and his vacant eyes stared blankly into nothingness.
He was dead…….again.
Spike dropped the glass, ran to the bed and gathered the lifeless boy in his arms. “No, no, no, not again. You can't do this to me again.”
The feeling was the same as before. Air suddenly blasting into his body and filling his lungs like a balloon. He forced his eyes open but found that darkness still reigned. Where was he? Where was Spike?
Xander heard a feint voice. It was deep, musky and held a strange yet comforting edge of evil.
“Come back to me Xan, come back. Come back to me Xan, come back…..”
As the words were repeated like a mantra, the fog began to lift from Xander's tired brain and he recognised the voice as Spike's
Oookaaay, so Spike was here, but the question still remained of where *here* actually was. Why was it so dark? As Xander drew in a slow shaky breath, he caught the scent of leather, JD and smoke.
He realised where he was.
Spike choked out his words through sobbed pleas.
“Come back to me Xan, come back. Come back to me Xan, come back…..”
Xander had been dead for nearly ten minutes now and he was giving up hope. The pain of losing his friend was ripping his un-dead heart in two. Why wouldn't the little shit wake up? This was just like Xander, the inconsiderate, stubborn bastard. Fuck it. Whelp was probably doing it on purpose…………Why won't he wake up?
“Come back to me Xan, come back. Come back to me Xan, Come back…..”
A muffled voice rose up from somewhere near Spike's chest.
“Um……I'm trying, but it's a little difficult when you're suffocating me in your duster.”
Spike froze. He hardly dared to believe it. Slowly, he pushed Xander away from his body and stared in wonder at his friend's pale and confused face.
“You came back.”
“Uh-huh” Xander said wearily. “Wanna know why?”
Spike placed one hand on Xander's cheek and smiled “Tell me, pet”
“Cos I need to barf.”
Spike jerked his hand back quick as lightening.
“Eh? *Again?* You're kidding?”
“Nope, not kidding here. Serious barfage….coming your….way.”
“Right. Just hold it in for a…………..bloody hell!”
“You sure that's it?”
Xander leant against the bathroom tiles and nodded.
“Yup, officially empty. No more to see here.”
“See? Nothing. Dry as a bone. Empty as my bank account.”
Xander stared at the vampire. Something was missing. Oh yeah.
“Sorry about your duster.”
Spike glanced backwards. The said garment was laying defeated in the bath tub with only a pair of docs for company.
“S'okay, pet. It's seen worse.” Spike pondered for a second. “Why is that vomit always has carrot chunks in it?.......I get spaghetti hoops in mine too.”
“Uh…Spike? Could we not talk about it? I'm pretty sure I could conjure some carrots from somewhere. And Spaghetti hoops? I just don't wanna know.”
“Sorry. Xan?................Please don't die again.”
Xander wondered if Spike really did care about him. Did he really give a shit if he lived or died or was the vampire only concerned about not getting staked? Xander decided to test him.
“Spike, its ok, my friends won't blame you…..”
Spike's temper flared, what with the dying and not dying events of the evening, his nerves were in tatters.
“The hell they wouldn't! Stake first and ask later, that's what would happen. Wouldn't even give me the chance to explain, I'd wager. Bunch of bloody gits that they are.”
Spike sucked in a long harsh breath and was about to let loose a string of expletives when he caught a look of hurt flashing across Xander's face. Spike immediately regretted his outburst. He wasn't really thinking about what the scoobies would do to him if Xander died and he wanted Xander to know that. He wanted him to know that he, Spike, the evil soulless vampire, cared very much about him and didn't want him to ever die
Spike cursed under his breath. Willow was back, her timing impeccable as ever.
“In the bathroom, Red. There in a sec.”
Xander pushed himself up the wall and Spike reached out an eager hand to help him.
“I'm fine!” Xander snapped.
“You're bloody not, Harris. C'mere. Lemme help you.”
Xander snatched his arm away from Spike's grip. “I said I was……dizzy.”
Xander swayed and toppled sideways. He crunched up his eyes and prayed that the floor would be kind and not hurt him too much. Spike didn't give him the chance to find out. With vampiric speed, he grabbed at Xander's falling body, flipped his legs up and cradled him against his chest.
Xander's last thought before he passed out in Spike's arms was. Mmmm, Spike shaped cushion, nice.
Spike carried Xander out of the bathroom and into the bedroom.
“Oh, Spike. Is he ok? What happened?”
“Repeat performance. You got the books?”
Willow stood at the bedroom door and nodded.
“Well? Don't just stand there gawping like a bleedin' idiot, bring `em in.”
Willow fetched the books and handed one to Spike. “You look in that one. It's got more pictures…..”
“What yer sayin'? I can sodding read you know!”
“I know that, Spike, I just thought that maybe you might be able to recognise the bush from one of the pictures.”
“Oh. Yeah, alright. Whatever.”
Willow frowned at the vampire. Was he sulking?
“There. That one.”
Spike pointed confidently to a picture in the book and passed it over to the witch.
Willow studied the page for a moment before looking back up at Spike. “Are you sure?”
“Course I'm bloody sure.”
“But this plant is harmless.”
Spike Lifted Xander's shirt. “Does that look like the result of something *harmless*?”
“Well, no. But it says here that the sap from a…..Brocclicai can cause skin irritation, maybe that's all it is.”
“It can't be. It's got to cause more than that. There's no other explanation. Keep reading.”
Willow looked back at the book and after about thirty seconds her eyes widened. “Oh, Goodness.”
“Um, Spike?......You didn't happen to see any spiders in that bush?”
Spike paled to the colour of a bottle of milk “No, I didn't. Should I have?”
“Well it says here that the Brocclicai is a chosen nesting site for the Tarantula Giganticus.”
Spike shuddered and ran shaking fingers through his hair. “Huh. Is that so? Giganticus eh? Sounds……big.”
“So did you see one?”
“Are you sure?”
“Giganticus, Red. Read between the lines. It must be massive. I think I would know if I'd seen one.”
“But it says here that the newborns are only an inch in length….”
Spike got up and paced the room. His mind was filling with a vision of inch long spiders scurrying around his feet. Jesus, he could have been standing right next to one….or two…or a hundred! Spike laughed hysterically and repeated himself.
“*Only*? Christ on a bike!”
“Spike, I think this is what we are looking for. It gives a brief list of symptoms, sickness, dizziness, lethargy………..”
Spike snatched the book and babbled like a crazy person. “No, no, no, it can't be. Anything but this. Anything but spiders. I can't bear it. Disgusting. No, no, no…………..”
Willow picked up another book. She closed it and bashed Spike over the head.
“Oi! What was that for?”
“Snap out of it, Spike. This is serious, we have to help Xander.”
“I bloody well know that!”
“Well then. Just calm down. There aren't any spiders here now.”
“So what do we do?”
Spike suddenly pointed an accusing finger at Willow.
“And don't you dare sodding well tell me that we have to go and collect a bloody sample. Cos I'd rather set light to my duster.”
“Calm down, Spike. Don't get excited. *I* am going to go and plug my laptop in. See what I can find out about this spider. See if there's an antidote. *You* are going to check every inch of Xander's body until you find a spider bite. We need to be sure. Check *everywhere*”
Spike swallowed hard and looked down at the sleeping human. Check Xander's body, *everywhere* Sooo very good. Spider bites? Sooo very bad.
Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad………………………
Spike popped a cigarette into his mouth and braced himself.
Ok, stay cool. You can do this. Check him. Check him *everywhere* You can do that, no problem. You're a vicious blood sucking…..sucking…..sucking…*ahem* blood sucking vampire. You fear nothing. So just take off Xander's clothes and find the spider bite. You can dress him again afterwards. It'll be like it never happened.
“Have you done it yet?” Willow called out, impatiently, from the other room
“I'm just doing him now………..*it* I mean, I'm doing *it* now.”
Spike shook his head, looked back down at his sleeping friend and sighed. One side of his befuzzled brain was hoping that he would find the bite on an easily accessible piece of skin like the neck or wrist. The quicker he found the bite, the better. At least then they could be sure what was causing Xander's illness. The thought that they could lose him at any moment was terrifying and Spike could not imagine life without his chatter box friend.
The other side of Spike's brain, the side that was right now giving him dirty thoughts and an uncomfortably large bulge in his jeans, was desperately hoping that he would be forced to completely de-clothe Xander and have a damn good rummage for the bite. After all, the spider could have gotten *anywhere* Spiders like dark places, don't they?
Another thought hit Spike like a pie in the face and he staggered back. What if the spider was still there, nestling somewhere beneath Xander's baggy clothes. What if it was laying in wait for him, readying to pounce, waiting for the kill? What if it jumped on him? What if it looked at him? What if…?.....What if….? What if there was more than one? What if Xander had *hundreds* of spiders in his pants? What if they all attacked him?
Oh god it's the legs, the legs, long spindly legs. If they didn't have legs then there wouldn't be a problem…….
Xander groaned and shifted slightly on the bed. “Ssspike?”
Spike whipped his head around and shot back over to the bed, all thoughts of hundreds of spiders with long spindly legs, temporarily forgotten.
“Xan, you alright, pet?”
Xander immediately drifted back into a deep sleep and Spike got no answer. He stroked his fingers through Xander's hair and had a quick think.
How likely was it that there were hundreds of spiders in Xander's pants? Not very likely. How likely was it that if he and Willow didn't help Xander soon, he was going to die, again, possibly even for good? Very likely.
Xander turned his head in his sleep and nuzzled it against Spike's open palm. His lips parted slightly and a small moan ghosted from his mouth.
Spike's jeans took the strain. “Blinking' `eck”
Ok, you need to start thinking clearly, here. There is a young man, your friend, moaning…..no, no…*lying* on that bed and he desperately needs your loving touch……..…no, no, your * help* he desperately needs your * help*
Spike mentally kicked his own ass. You can do this, you know you can. Just take a deep unneeded breath, take of his clothes, and fuck him……..*check* him, I bloody meant, *check* him!
Spike finished his fourth cigarette and stood suddenly. “Right. Clothes off. Quick, but thorough check. Clothes on.”
He had already checked all visible parts of Xander's body and it was time to do the rest. Time was a wasting.
The shirt was first to go and Spike marvelled as he fumbled with the stiff buttons, at how Xander had managed not to get a single drop of vomit on himself yet had covered both Spike's duster and docs in smelly carrot chunks. Selfish, just bloody selfish. Brat.
Spike pulled Xander into a boneless sitting position and tipped him forward. With gentleness and care that he didn't even realised that he possessed, he slipped the shirt from Xander's shoulders.
“Sweet, holy mother of……”
Spikes eyes widened and blackened with surprise and lust. He trailed his fingers lightly over soft tanned skin, half looking for the bite and half just exploring and enjoying Xander's tight muscled body. Jesus, the boy was hot. No, not boy, most definitely *all* man.
Spike had expected Xander's body to be on the side of yummy, but fuck me backwards and twice on a Tuesday, Xander was gorgeous. What a wonderful benefit of construction work. Spike wondered if Xander also worked out, perhaps he would ask him when this was all over. Course, that would sound like a chat up line. Did he want it to sound like a chat up line?
Spike laid his friend back on the bed and made a mental list while he unfastened Xander's pants.
Xander was good company.
Xander had a great sense of humour.
Xander was attractive.
Xander had a fantastic body.
Xander was Xander. The one and only.
Yes, he did want to chat him up. He wanted to take him for a drink. He wanted to take him to the movies. He wanted to cuddle with him in front of the TV. He wanted him. But hey! Let's not jump too far ahead, maybe Xander didn't want to do these things with him. Maybe he never would.
Spike eased Xander's pants down his legs and broke out in a sweat. “Bloody, buggering, sodding hell, got bloody nice legs too.”
Spike was in serious trouble, the bulge in his jeans was way past the point of painful, his heart was near to beating again and his stomach was doing dramatic flippety flops. If nothing else, he was in deep lust. He leant in close and ran shaking hands over thick, taut thighs.
“Wish you weren't so beautiful, luv. Making this bloody `ard, you are. Never gonna find this bloody bite at this rate. Couldn't of had `orrible flaky skin, could yer?”
Spike sighed and quickly removed Xander's boxer-shorts. This bit needed to be done as quickly as possible, otherwise he would end up just staring and drooling, desperately trying to resist the urge for just one brief touch. He discarded the boxers on the floor and turned back to begin the inspection.
Spike's eyes bulged in their sockets. “Bloody hell! You could take somebody's eye of with that thing!””
He could hardly believe what he was seeing. It was……he had….and it was so………good lord! Spike tried desperately not to look at the huge throbbing erection as he scanned Xander's hips for any sign of the bite. Not looking. Not looking. Not looking. When he was sure there was no bite to be seen he gently turned Xander onto his front.
There it was. Swollen, sore and planted right in the middle of a firm buttock was the spider bite. Instinctively Spike caressed it, trying to heal with just the touch of his hand and the thoughts in his head.
Spike pulled himself together, there might not be much time left and they had wasted too much already. Xander was too precious to lose and Spike was going to do everything he could to ensure that he could have a healthy babbling, bouncing Xander once again. He turned Xander on his side and pulled a blanket over his naked body. Spike kissed him gently on his forehead and whispered quietly into his ear.
“Beautiful Xander. Gonna make you better, pet. I promise. Ain't gonna let you go”
He kissed Xander again and reluctantly left the room.
Xander's eyes fluttered open and he smiled. Spike.
“Watcha got, Red. What we dealing with, here?”
Willow looked up from her laptop with large fearful eyes “Um, you're not gonna like it.”
Spike held up a brave hand “S'ok, Red, hit me with it. How bad can it be? A few poxy spiders? The big bad can deal.”
Spike wasn't quite so confident on the inside. A few `poxy' spiders were threatening to send the big bad into a state of blind panic. But no, he wasn't going to panic, he couldn't afford to, not with Xander's life on the line.
“They're not ordinary spiders. The book that we looked at said that they were rare, the only sightings of them confirmed in California and Cleveland. But that book didn't know the half of it.”
Spike looked nervous, his eyes were wide as dinner plates and his foot was tapping unconsciously at the wooden floor.
“Go on…..I can take it.”
“They're Hellmouth spiders.”
Willow paused there, whether it was for dramatic effect or to let Spike digest the information before she hit him with the *really* bad news, she wasn't sure.
Spike didn't speak, but his one legged tap dance increased in pace. If the news got any worse then he was going to end up doing a full Irish jig.
“Their poison is deadly, Spike. If we don't cure him, the baby spider's bite will kill Xander for good in less than three hours.”
Spike swallowed an imaginary cactus and tried to meet Willow's worried gaze. “How? How do we cure him?”
“You're not going to like it.”
“I already don't like it.”
“Well, ok, then you're not going to like this more. There is an anti-venom. If Xander drinks it, then he'll be cured.”
“That's great! Where do we get this ant-venom?”
Willow opened and closed her mouth like a goldfish, not quite knowing how to break the earth shattering news to the vampire.
“C'mon, Red. We ain't got much time.”
“The mother spider carries the anti-venom in her blood……”
“*Mother* spider. We have to find the mother? Blinkin' flip!”
Spike began to pace furiously. He ran shaking fingers through his hair and tried desperately to reason with himself.
“S'ok, I'm the big bad. I can handle a mother spider. No problem. She can't be that big. What? Three, four inches? I'll just close my eyes and grab it.”
Spike stopped pacing and shuddered. “He has to drink her blood?”
“Yeah, and it has to be fresh. He'll only have a few minutes to drink it once she's dead and if he doesn't……..”
“We have to find another one.” Spike finished
“No. If he doesn't drink it in time then we're fucked”
Spike cocked an eyebrow at Willows bad language. He was almost tempted to scold her.
Willow continued. “There is only one Mother Brocclicai living on any one Hellmouth at any one time.”
“One? While *I am* comforted by that, how the hell are we going to find just one spider in that bloody great wood?”
“Oh don't worry. She'll be near the nest.”
“U-huh. And……she should be pretty easy to spot.”
Spike whipped his head around. “How's that?”
“She's, um…..quite large.”
Spike desperately patted down his body looking for the pack of cigarettes that he knew he had left on Xander's nightstand.
“How large?” He asked, trying to sound casual.
Willow shook her head.
Willow shook her head
Xander heard a bump from the other room and he hurriedly slipped his pants and shirt back on. Wearily, he padded into the other room and spotted Spike lying stiff as a board, on the floor.
“Spike?! Are you o.k?”
Xander collapsed to his knees next the blond.
Spike sat bolt upright and brushed himself off with frantic hands.
“Get `em off, Get `em off!”
Willow squatted behind her friend and supported him. Xander looked like he was going to become unconscious himself any second.
“Spike, there's nothing on you.”
Spike came to his senses and tried to look casual.
“Err, yeah, I knew that…….Xander! What are you doing up? You should be in bed.”
“Wanted to see if you were alright. Don't worry about me, I'm ok.” Xander slurred, his eyes already drifting shut and his body sagging back into Willows surprisingly strong hold.
“You're bloody not ok. C'mon, we're going to bed……I mean, *you* are going to bed.” <i>Damn it, not this again.</i>
Willow stopped Spike before he could haul Xander to his feet.
“No! Spike, he has to come with us. The blood has to be fresh, remember?”
“Shit. How's that gonna work, eh? He can't even sit straight, never mind trample through a bloody wood!”
“There's a spell I can do. It'll give him some strength, just for an hour or so.”
Spike was scared as hell. A three yard Spider from the Hellmouth? He'd rather scoop out his own eyeballs with a spoon. But he had to face it. He had to face his fear, or the one he loved was going to die.
Love? Yeah, probably.
“Is it working?”
“Sssh. Give him a minute.”
“Mrpf tiddle, mrph”
“Wot did he just say?”
Willow just shrugged and continued to watch her magic do its work.
Spike watched with concern as a sleepy Xander tried his best to regain consciousness. They had been just about to leave the apartment and go spider hunting when Xander had taken a turn for the worse. He'd died, again. After half an hour of Willow sobbing and Spike pacing, smoking, swearing and hoping, Xander had finally come around. Spike had then given Xander a good telling off. Who did the brat think he was, dying all willy nilly?! It was too much for a vampire to take!
Xander had only managed to stay conscious for about five minutes after that. He was getting weaker by the second. At that point, Willow had decided that it would be best to cast her spell there and then, rather than when they reached the woods. She needed to see her friend up and moving about, she couldn't stand another second of seeing Xander so lifeless.
“Err….Red? Is `e alright? He sounds…..like a crazy person”
Golden light swirled around Xander's body as the spell continued to pull him from his poisoned slumber.
“He's fine, he's just waking up.”
Xander shifted and flapped his hand at the golden glow.
“Go way. Flp”
The glow dissipated and Spike surged forward, grabbing at Xander face, willing him to open his eyes.
“Xan? You with us, pet?”
Large watery eyes were slowly revealed and Xander grasped the tops of Spike's arms and tried to pull himself up. Spike got the idea and helped Xander into a sitting position.
“How ya feelin? Dizzy? Sick? Tired?”
Xander rolled his eyes up to the ceiling while he tried to decide exactly how he felt.
Dizzy? A little
“Um……I kinda feel sorta…..um…….ah, ahhh AASSPPOOO!”
Xander sneezed and Spike got caught in the blast.
“Thanks for that, pet.” Spike said as he ran a hand over one eye.
“Sorry, Spike. I think I have a cold.”
“You don't bloody say. How'd that `appen then, eh? You didn't `ave a sodding cold half an hour ago.”
Xander and Spike turned their suspicious gazes on Willow.
“I'll give you `Ooopsie' in minute you daft bugger……”
“Spike, it's ok, really. I'm just a little bunged up, I'll be fine. Please don't blame Willow.”
Jesus on a cold day. How could he have a go at Willow, when Xander was giving him the `I'm a puppy, please don't play football with my head' look? And besides, thanks to Willow, Xander was fully awake and talking.
“Right. Well. Let's just go then.”
Spike pointed a warning finger at Willow.
“But if he's still sneezing when this is all over, then *you* are springing for the cold meds”
“You got it…….Uh, Spike? Are you going out like that?”
Spike looked at Willow and Xander with a puzzled look on his face.
Xander smiled cheekily at Spike and gestured to the vampire's state of dress.
“No docs? No duster? Spike, you're practically naked.”
“Bollocks. `ang on.”
Spike rushed to the bathroom to retrieve the said clothing articles and came back with a wrinkled nose.
“Still smells.” He complained, shrugging on the duster anyway.
“Sorry. I didn't mean to. I couldn't help it. It just had to come up. I really couldn't avoid it. Well, perhaps I could have avoided you. But you were just in the wrong place and god knows I would never hurt the holy duster……What?”
Spike smiled fondly at the Xander-babble, it had seemed like an eternity since he had last heard it and although he sure that it would become annoying again in, oh I don't know, five minutes, for now he just wanted to listen to it.
“What?” Xander repeated. “You're mad aren't you? I knew it. I really am sorry…..and where are we going by the way? Can I eat first? I feel the need for boiled egg and soldiers. I think it must be the cold. I always crave stuff when I'm sick. You know, comfort food.”
Xander paused for breath and Spike got in quickly.
“Yeah, I know what you mean. C'mon, pet, we've not got much time. I'll tell you what my comfort food is when we're in the car.”
Spike wiped at his other eye.
“I'm so sorry!”
“S'alright, pet, been covered in worse.”
“Oh. That's good?...........Where did you say we were going again?”
“ASSSPPOOO!...........What's going on?”
Spike sighed, wiped the back of his neck and turned around in the driver's seat.
“Just waiting for Willow. Red said she'd forgotten something from your apartment.”
“Dunno, mate, she didn't say. She'd better hurry up though, not got much time.”
“Time for what?”
“'til the spell wares off.”
“Never mind, pet.”
Xander was too tired to push for an actual answer. He didn't really care. To be truthful, he was having trouble recollecting anything from the past few hours. He did have dim vision of Spike with his hand on his butt……naaahhh, that must have been a dream, some kind of beautiful dream…..Oooh, had he really just thought that? Xander shook his head to try and clear the fuzziness.
“You alright back there”
“Mmmm, just tired…..what's going on?.....Did I already ask that? Hmm, seems familiar….ah, ahhh……..”
Xander paused, his eyes half closed and his mouth opening wide in readiness for a cataclysmic sneeze. With lightening reflexes, Spike ducked behind the car seat and watched a trail of phlegm and saliva travel over his head like a cosmic starburst. When the coast was clear Spike poked his head up and looked at Xander warily.
“That it? Or is there more?”
“That's it….for now. Spike? Could you have a look in the glove box? I think I left some tissues in there.”
Spike obliged and pulled out a small pocket pack of tissues. He pulled one out for himself and passed the pack to Xander. Spike used his to wipe the windscreen.
“Someone really should invent internal windscreen wipers.” He said
“S'ok, mate. Your windscreen. Needed a good clean anyway. It's coming up a treat.”
Xander fog horned into several tissues and Spike winced. His vampire hearing was very sensitive and he hoped Xander's nose blowing would not go on for long. He'd rather just put up with having to dodge the projectile phlegm.
“Oh, Spike, I really feel like total shit.”
“Yeah, you look it.”
“Didn't mean it like that, idiot.”
“Yeah? Well you look hot….erm, I mean you look like you have a fever.”
Xander shivered and Spike debated with himself. To go and cuddle him or not to go and cuddle him. It was almost Shakespeare.
“Spike? Please don't slap me or tease me for being a complete girl, but I just feel like I need a cuddle.”
Ok, to go and cuddle him it is then.
Spike climbed over the front seats and sat next to Xander. He extended his arm around the shivering man's shoulder's and tucked him into his body, closing the other arm around him in a protective cocoon.
“There you go, luv. I know I'm not the warmest bloke in the world, but the car heater `as blasted me a bit, so I should be a bit warmer than usual.”
“It's ok, Spike. You feel warm and………cosy.”
In all his vampire years, no one had ever called him cosy! When Xander was feeling better, he was going to have to give him a damn good kiss…..bloody, buggering, fuck, a slap, he was going to have to give him a damn good slap. What the fuck? Spike sighed, it was useless, he could not deny his feelings anymore, he had to admit to himself that he was falling big time for this human, and he had been falling for a long time. But what about Xander, could it be possible that he felt the same way?
<i>Mmmm, Spike feels nice.</i> Xander sighed quietly from within Spike's tight embrace. He had no real clue about what the hell was going on, but he was fully aware of how good it felt to have Spike's arms coiled around him. Actually, it felt amazingly good. It was an embrace that was brimming over with comfort, caring and love……..No, he wasn't thinking straight. How could someone like Spike possibly love someone like him?
“Sorry guys, I had trouble finding what I needed.”
“Scoot over, Red. You're driving. And what exactly was it that you needed?”
Willow shuffled over to the driver's seat, glanced at the snuggling men and hid a smirk.
“Um, just a…a…a tool, an accessory if you will.”
“What kind of accessory?” Spike asked suspiciously
“Let's not go into it now, Spike. You'll find out soon enough. Is Xander ok?”
“Yeah. He's cold, though.”
Spike instinctively rubbed his hand over Xander back and Xander unconsciously gave out a little moan in response.
“What does it look like? I'm warming him up!”
Willow turned back around and started the engine.
“I bet you are.” She muttered with a cheeky grin.
“I said I bet you wish you were in a bar.”
“I mean instead of here….with us….and the whole spider thing.”
“Can we not talk about the spider thing? I'll deal with it when we get there. Just bloody drive, woman.”
Xander popped his head up.
“Is that where we're going?”
“Did I…..get bitten?”
Spike stroked his hand through Xander's shaggy locks.
“Yeah, yer did, pet?”
“Is that why I feel weird?”
“Yeah, that and Red's clumsy mojo.”
“I quite like spiders”
Spike quickly felt Xander's forehead.
“Put your foot down, Red. He's becoming hysterical.”
“Hey! I'm not hysterical! I like spiders…..as long you're not talking about one of those great big tarantula things, cos, ewww. I had a bad experience with one at a zoo once. It attacked me! Jumped right at my face!.......course it was in a cage and the glass stopped it, but still, if the glass hadn't been there, it could have attached itself to me like one of those face-hugger things.”
Xander made a clawed hand and shoved it over his face to show *exactly* what he meant.
“They can jump real far you know. It's a good job you can't get tarantulas that are big as cows, cos think how far they could go? Whoa! I bet it would be able to jump to the top of a tree, or a house, or, or, or an apartment block…..”
Spike thought quickly. He just couldn't listen to anymore of this spider talk. There was only one way he could think of that would stop the Xander-babble in its tracks. And it was a good way, a way that would distract the both of them.
“Wow, imagine if you could get spiders that were as big as a bus, or a house, or……………”
Spike tilted Xander's face upwards and kissed him.