Cat's Cradle

Walking home after another Scooby meeting; a couple of hours listening to Buffy and Willow talk about classes - listening to Giles talk about monsters - listening to Anya talk about not being a demon anymore. Listening to himself saying not much at all. It's hard to talk, sometimes, when all he wants to do is talk about…him. But he can't, so he doesn't, and it makes him feel…angry, in a way, and it makes him feel sad. And feel lonely, even though Anya is willing to share her new human self with him. He just doesn't want it - doesn't want her. Wants his own demon, the one who… Well, no point in thinking about it. He hates that he can't get Spike out of his mind - out of his heart, it seems. Hates that a blond head in a crowd makes him catch his breath - hates that he dreams; blue eyes and cool fingers and sardonic, smiling mouth. Hates that he fell, and seems to keep falling, and nothing is stopping him and there just doesn't seem to be an end to how crummy he can feel. And how…stupid.

Xander kicked out at a rock - sent it skittering down the sidewalk. Stupid, to think that Spike would stick around, once he was well. Stupid to think he'd choose some mortal boy - clumsy and ignorant and so, so needy - over the love of his life - over 100 years of togetherness. Xander kicked at another rock - missed it, and stomped on.

"I hate my life," he muttered.

"Really, pet?" That voice, out of the blue, and Xander feels his heart just stop - stop, and sit in his chest for a moment like lead. And then start pounding again, fast, hard, and painful, so painful. It hurts so much, in fact, that Xander feels tears prickle in his eyes, and he closes them for a moment - looks up to find the source of that voice.

And he's there, on the wall that borders the cemetery. Cigarette in left hand, bottle in right. The same, the same, so much the same. Xander just stands there. Can't quite get anything to work - not his feet, not his mouth, nothing. So after a moment, Spike hops easily down, flicking the cigarette away, taking a long pull on the bottle and sauntering over.

"Do you really hate it, pet? Or is it just that…teen angst thing they talk about on the telly?" Blue eyes and sardonic, smiling mouth - just like the dreams, and Xander can't face this - can't do this, and finally he's moving; walking past Spike, a little shaky, and on down the sidewalk. Blinking, because his eyes are hot and itchy with tears. Blinking so Spike won't see.

"I really h-hate it, Spike," he says, and shivers when Spike falls into step beside him, the duster swinging and just brushing his wrist.

"Why, Xander?" Softly, and Xander rounds on him, hands clenching into fists, his eyes swimming and his traitor voice cracking.

"Because it's fucked up, that's why! Because I - I let myself th-think that… I hate it." *Hate you* he thinks, but he doesn't, not really, and even this angry he won't say it. Won't.

"Think what?" Spike is looking at him, head a little to one side, that scarred eyebrow raised a little, and Xander hates that - hate's that Spike seems to be confused, or…at a loss. And there's no way he can be, because Xander knows Spike felt like this. Knows he did, because he watched it, every day that Drusilla skipped off with Angel. Every time she took his side over Spike's side. Spike knows what this feels like, and Xander hates that he's pretending he doesn't get it.

"Oh fuck, Spike, just…just leave me alone, ok? Just - go get Dru and…and find some old lady to scare or something, ok? Just don't…" Xander stops - closes his eyes for a second, and then shakes his head. *What's the point?* He turns and walks on, and Spike is still there, right there.

"Xander…Dru's not here."

"Well, duh. What, she's over at the mansion, having a vision or something? What'd you come back for, anyway?" Xander tries to walk a little faster, but Spike easily stays with him - takes another drink from the bottle he's carrying and offers it to Xander.

"Fuck no," Xander mutters, wincing at the thought. He just doesn't do alcohol, when he's pissed off. It's too much like - it's just not a good idea.

"Listen - Xander. I need to talk to you."

"Well, talk then. I'm right here." A sigh from Spike, and then his hand is on Xander's arm - stopping him, and Xander tries to wrench free - is a little shocked when Spike yanks him hard enough to hurt him, pulling him around.

"I said, I wanna talk to you, pet. Sit down and talk." A bit of a growl, there. Xander is staring into Spike's eyes and he sees something rather unexpected. Firstly, that Spike is drunk - very drunk, even though he doesn't sound like he is. And second, that those blue, blue eyes - those eyes that have held so much laughter and pleasure and wicked lust and sly amusement - are wounded, are almost black with pain. Xander just stares at him, and Spike takes another drink - drains the bottle and tosses it away. His hand is still locked down on Xander's bicep, and now his other hand comes up - delicately traces Xander's cheek and jaw - touches his lower lip.

"I hafta…tell you some things." They just stand there for a minute, and Xander sighs, finally, and shakes his head.

"Fine. Come on, then." Spike blinks at him - nods back, and his hand finally eases up, sliding off Xander's arm. They start walking again, not speaking, Spike smoking another cigarette, Xander kicking at rocks, head down. They get to Xander's house, and he leads the vampire around the side, to the basement entrance.

"This your house, Xander?" Spike looks a little confused - like he's forgotten where Xander lives, and Xander shrugs.

"I'm down in the basement now - kinda like an apartment, only…not."

"But - they'll hear us - come looking -" The alcohol must be kicking in hard, Xander thinks, because Spike is looking really confused now - a little unsteady.

"Nah. They've been ignoring me for twelve years or more. I'm even easier to ignore down here. Doubt they'll even notice." Xander pulls his keys out of his pocket - opens the door and steps inside. Turns and looks back at Spike, who's standing there, looking lost.

*I'm out of my mind. Fuck it.* "Come in, Spike," he says, and Spike's mouth twists up in a tiny little smile, and then he steps inside. Xander leads him down the short flight of steps and into the basement proper. He glances around and sighs. It's mostly clean - the space is too small to allow for clutter - and the couch and ancient recliner aren't any more decrepit then your average college student furniture. But the basement is dark and a bit musty, and the palpable sense of…loneliness hangs over it all like a fog. No pictures - no cheerful touches. Just…the basics. Survival. *Welcome to my life*

"Wanna beer?" Xander strips off his jacket - crosses to the miniscule kitchenette and opens his fridge. He's got a six-pack in there that he stole from his last job - an 'I just got fired so fuck you'' five-finger discount that he can't force himself to feel bad about. He just looks at them, though, and Spike says nothing, so he closes the fridge again and goes to slump on the couch. Spike is standing in the middle of the room, looking around him with the air of someone who was expecting the Ritz and got…a damp basement hole.

"Nice digs, pet."

"Yeah, well…" Xander just shrugs, and Spike finally moves - takes off his duster and slings it into the recliner - sprawls down on the couch next to Xander and leans his head back, staring at the ceiling.

"Thing is…" Spike says, and his hands are doing this slow-motion wander over his body. "Thing is…" Xander just watches him - wonders what in hell he's doing, until he finally realizes Spike is looking for his cigarettes. Which are in his duster. Xander sighs and gets up - grabs the duster and searches it - finds the cigarettes.

"Here, Spike," he says, and tosses them into Spike's lap. The vampire picks them up, looking faintly puzzled.

"Ta, pet," he says, and pulls one out - slides his Zippo from his jeans-pocket and lights it, then sits there, smoking. Xander just stares at him - finally leans back and closes his eyes. His brain is nicely blank. Just - blank. No thoughts, no feelings - nothing at all. It's a first. He sinks into the nothing - the silence - and it takes him a moment to realize Spike is touching him. Cool fingers gentle on his jaw - his collarbone - his shoulder. Tangling in his hair, stroking down his arm and rubbing over his knuckles. Back to his shoulder again, then on to skate lightly over his chest and belly. Fingers on his lips, now, and Xander isn't in nothing anymore, he's in the middle of a molten criss-cross of touches. Everywhere Spike's fingers have touched, fire has sprung up, and Xander imagines a spider's web of lines over his body - a net of fire that flickers and dances and follows the black-nailed hand that ignites it.

"Cat's cradle," Spike murmurs, lips brushing the upper curve of his ear, nose just touching in his hair, and Xander takes in a hard, harsh breath.


"Cat's cradle. You know? With string and hands…" Lips on his temple, now - on his cheekbone, and Xander wonders fleetingly if Spike managed to put the cigarette out.

"I know what it is…what does it - oh…" Lips on his lips, now - nibbling at the edges - tongue just lapping a bit at the corner of his mouth - at the wet underside of his upper lip. Spike is so close now, so close - cool length of his body all along Xander's left side, one hand spread in the center of his chest so that it's like a coal of fire there - dense and burning.

"Spike -"

"Missed you, pet. Missed you…" and Xander is ready to just sink into that - into knowing that, but he doesn't. He opens his eyes and Spike's are staring into his *God, they're like some kind of jewel, some kind of star…* and he puts his hand flat on Spike's chest and pushes him away.

"You can't do that, Spike. You can't go away for a year, Spike, for a fucking year and come back and just - " Spike has leaned away from him a bit now, head to one side, and Xander wants to punch him or - something. Just wants him to stop looking at him like that, as if Xander is being silly, being…. dramatic.


"Don't, Spike! I might be - might be just a human, might be just a - a kid, but you can't do that, you can't make me feel like - and just go, and then come back here and - " Xander leans forward and puts his elbows on his knees - his face down into his hands and searches for that nothing place again - twitches violently when Spike's hand slowly traces his spine.

"Come back here and what, pet?"

"Come back here and look at me like that, like -"

"Like what, pet?" Spike's voice sounds genuinely puzzled and Xander squeezes the sides of his head - drags his hands back through his hair and pulls a little. He turns and glares at the vampire.

"Like you don't get it, Spike. Like you can't imagine why I'm not - not throwing myself at you and just - taking up where we left off! You can't do that to me, I don't care if you're the fuckin' Slayer of Slayers and William the Bloody, you don't have any fuckin' right - " Spike stares at him - leans slowly back and picks up his cigarette from where it's smoldering on the edge of the coffee table. Takes a long drag and stubs it out on his boot-heel.

"I don't - I'm not looking at you, Xander. I'm - bloody hell, pet! I'm tryin' ta - " Spike is up off the couch like a cat, pacing to the stairs and back, scowling.

"I told you I wanted to talk to you. I need to - just listen, Xander!" Xander puts his head back down, hoping for the nothing instead of the fire; the fire that still burns across his skin and the fire that makes him want to jump up and grab Spike - kiss him and touch him and try to quench the heat that is burning through him against the vampire's cool, cool body. Banked embers, coming to life after a year of sullen smoldering, and it's almost too much.

"When I left - me and Dru, we went down to Argentina, pet. She wanted to go where it was warm - wanted to see the mountains there. We lived in Buenos Aires - got a little villa there, just outside the city…"

"I know this, Spike, I know this." Xander whispers, and Spike touches his head, fleetingly, as he paces by. Xander jerks away and then stands up, and goes over to his dresser.

"When we left here - it was months before she stopped talking about the bloody Angelus. She was so mad at me for takin' her away…" Xander opens the bottom drawer of his dresser, where he keeps his yearbooks and some pictures - mementoes. He takes out a plain white envelope and holds it in his hands.

"I tried to - to make her happy. Gave her everything. But she was so… She was so angry at me, and so… She saw us, you know?" Xander turns at that, looking at Spike.

"What do you mean?"

"At the factory one time, early on. She saw you there - saw you help me, saw you…"

"Oh." Xander goes back to the couch and sits heavily, the envelope in his hands. He turns it over and over - finally opens it and takes out what's inside.

"What's that?" Spike asks, and he sits down next to Xander, knee pressing lightly into Xander's thigh, shoulder just touching, and Xander just wants to lean into him, just sigh and close his eyes and give up, give in. But he doesn't. Instead he unfolds the papers from the envelope. Three flimsy sheets of air-mail stationary, the kind that you fold into an envelope. The blue and red 'Airmail' logo is poorly realized - the lettering on the pages blurry, as if the ink has soaked out a bit. The creases are soft - the edges worn. Xander has handled these a lot.

"I know where you were, Spike. You sent me these, remember? See?" Xander angles the top page toward the vampire, the first letter, the one he got two months after Spike and Dru had gone. The postmark is from Mazatlan. There's no salutation - no signature, just a jagged sketch of a spike with what might be real blood smeared on it.

"You told me about how you walked up the hill and stood next to this lighthouse - El Faro. How you looked up the coast. Here, listen -" Xander squints at the letter - at Spike's upright and rather shaky hand. "'The lights go all the way to the horizon, jewelry-strands of white and blue and the sea is streaked with phosphor. The air is warm and heavy and salt, and I can almost taste you on my tongue…' That's Mazatlan, Spike. And this one - " Xander folds the first, his touch delicate, almost reverent, despite the crack in his voice, the bitterness.

"Someplace called…Quito. In Ecuador." Xander's hands are shaking a little, and he smoothes the faintly bluish paper. "'It's raining. I'm sitting across the street from La Compania de Jesus, and I can hear the rain striking on a bell in the tower. Just a faint sort of thrumming and it's like hearing your heartbeat, like lying with you and just being lulled by the sound of your living…' There. Ecuador. And this one, this one…" Xander pushes the heel of his hand into his eye for a moment, trying to push back the welling of tears. *Won't do that. Not now. Not…with him here…* "Buenos Aires. 'Puerto Madero. The docks. In some ways, in some places - it's a little bit like home - London, I mean. But London hasn't been home for a hundred years, and this isn't home, and Dru…isn't home anymore. Just one far-away boy, warm as the sun, home in the flicker-light of hell…' " Xander runs his fingers gently over the words - seems to remember suddenly that Spike is there, and folds the letters and tucks them away.

"How could you - send me those, Spike, how could you walk away and send me those and… They just - they just shredded me, Spike! You walk away and you send me these like you just expect me to…to take it, and when you get back to pretend you were never gone and I can't do that, Spike, I just can't." Xander realizes he's crushing the envelope, and he hastily smoothes it - looks up when Spike's hands reach and gently cover his. Spike's look is - bewildered. Lost.

"I didn't want you to forget me, love. Didn't want you to…think you didn't mean anything. Listen. Down there - Dru just kept…coming back to it. Coming back to you. Said - you were all around me - all over me. Said I whispered your name in my head all night, said…I looked at her and saw you, dark hair and dark eyes and… She was right, Xander, she was. But I - I just…" Spike leapt up, pacing again, running a hand back through his hair and the demon flickering out and back, snarl of fangs and cat's-eye gleam for a moment, and Xander feels that old surge, that sudden twisting drop in his belly, that sharp gasp for air he can't help. *Oh fuck, it's the same, the same, I can't see him except I want him and…* Xander closes his eyes again, forehead to bunched hands, the envelope cool on his skin.

"How is this supposed to work? How are we supposed to - to trust each other? You're friends with the Slayer, Xander , you kill my kind. And I kill your kind, why are we…" The footsteps stopped, and Xander felt Spike's fingers in his hair, stroking it back, rubbing the longer, loose curls that fell around the nape of his neck.

"She said it was like cat's cradle, love. A mess of cross-purposes and knots and tangles, getting you all confused, making you lose your place. But then, you just tug here and move your hand like so and it falls right into place - makes Candles, or Cup and Saucer. Makes something…clever and special and…new. Something - different. She said - I just had to do it right, and we'd stop being in knots." The caressing fingers move down - rub at the tense muscles of Xander's neck, and then Spike is crouching down in front of him, hands on Xander's wrists, pulling his hands down and looking up at him - looking at him, eyes wide and hopeful - fearful.

"I don't want to be in knots. She knew she lost, pet. She fought me, she tried to keep me, and I tried to stay…she gave me a hundred years, love - she gave me so much… But in the end - she wanted him more than me - wanted…something I couldn't give her. She hated me for it - and I just…wanted to be away." Xander just watches him - watches the emotions rush across the lean, expressive face. Anger, sadness, hurt. And - hope. Love.

"She was right, Spike. I am tangled up - all knotted up in my head…" Xander leaned just far enough to rest his forehead on Spike's. Leaned there and closed his eyes. "You're all over me - you're all through me, and I can't…" Xander stopped again - tossed the envelope aside and put his hands on Spike's shoulders. Ran his fingers lightly up the back of Spike's neck.

"I can't go to sleep without dreaming about you. I can't think, half the time, because I'm thinking about you. I can't talk, because all I want to say is Spike, but I can't tell anyone…"

"Tell me," Spike breathes. "Tell me, pet…" And then his mouth is on Xander's and they're kissing, only it's more like drowning, like dying, because Xander can't see, can't move, can't breathe, just feels the thin and deceptively strong hands curling around his back. Just tastes the smoke and blood and caramel that is the demon, the man, Spike. He shudders - clutches him closer and presses his mouth harder, wanting more, wanting… Spike pulls away, his lips going to Xander's jaw and throat, his hands working under Xander's t-shirt, tracing spine and shoulder blades.

"Tell me, tell me, love," he whispers, and Xander feels himself sliding down, off the couch, kneeling between Spike's tensed thighs, pulling him close, belly to belly.

"Dreamed about you - dreamed about your hands, on me, about your mouth, on me. Dreamed that you…oh…that you wanted me and…nobody else, nobody else." Spike is pulling at his shirt - pulling it off, and then his hands and his nails are running over Xander's body - gentle and then rough, stinging scratches and soothing caresses. Xander leans back, eyes closed, and his mouth opens on a soundless gasp when Spike's mouth finds first one nipple, then the other. Scrape of tooth and rasping tongue, Spike's fingers urgent and fumbling with the button of Xander's jeans.

"I dreamed about you too, pet. Dreamed about you on your back for me, open to me, begging me… Dreamed about this, this skin, this heat, this…" Spike's voice rumbles into a wordless hum of pleasure as he kisses his way from collarbone to navel, and Xander slides his hands through the moon-struck hair and pulls him up. Looks at him, his eyes wide and dark, full of a desperate hope.

"Why are you back, Spike? Are you gonna stay? Do you -"

"Back for you, love, back for you. Want to be here, be in you, be…all, everything… Let me back in, love. Let me… Won't hurt you again, promise you, won't do that…" Sincerity in that voice - truth, in that voice. He thinks so. Wants it to be so, so very badly. Feels the pressure of sharp hip-bone and hard thigh and willing flesh - wanting him, and he sighs and lets go - lets it all go. *Sold my soul to this devil the first time I kissed him - the first time he touched me. Let him have it, then, if this is what I get in return. So tired of wanting and not having…* Xander pulls Spike to him and kisses him - puts all and everything into that kiss; loneliness and bitterness and love and need, and Spike's arms are wrapping around him, holding him so close he can barely breathe. Xander runs his fingers over Spike's back - finds the edges of his shirt and gets under it - yanks at the t-shirt under that and pulls both of them up, desperate for the cool flesh to be against his own. Spike leans back - helps Xander get the shirts over his head, and then he pulls at Xander's sneakers and socks - tosses them aside. He grabs Xander's hips and lifts - gets him back up on the couch and is undoing button and zipper - stripping Xander's jeans and underwear off and sending them flying. Then his hands, his mouth - moving over Xander; touching and tasting every inch of skin. Scrape of tooth or nail, then soothing tongue, and Xander just leans back and lets him - sighs and gasps and writhes under the sensations. His hips come up off the couch when Spike's mouth takes in the head of his cock. Spike sucks there - licks - moves lower, takes him in deeper, and Xander moans aloud, his hands digging into the edge of the cushions, his breath coming in gasps, now. The cool wetness is exquisite around the burning flesh of his erection and he tries to push up, to get more. Spike backs off - lets him go, and Xander hears his voice whispering - wanting.

"Spike, Spike - feels so good…do that again, please do that again -"

"Do something better, love," Spike whispers, and his mouth moves down, licking, until he is at Xander's balls and he takes one and then the other into his mouth - suction and prickle of teeth, pressure that is sharp-edged delight, and Xander whimpers, twisting under the vampire, thrusting up, panting. Then Spike shifts - puts his arms under Xander's thighs, and then his shoulders, and his mouth is sliding wetly lower, to lick with cat-licks at the sensitive flesh there - to suddenly stab in, and Xander cries out. Spike just does it again - again - until Xander is trembling, on the edge of orgasm. Spike moves again - up again, mouth taking Xander's cock in and sucking and a cool finger is pressing in where his tongue just was, twisting, and Xander can't hold back, can't stop it, and he arches up into Spike's mouth and comes, crying out, feeling Spike's teeth on him, feeling the nails of Spike's hand clawing at his ribs. He relaxes slowly, panting, and watches as Spike slowly draws away - looks up with demon-gold eyes and swollen lips, a hungry look on his face.

"Sweet, just like I remember. Get up, love - on your knees." Spike glides up - lightning tattoo of nibbling kisses up Xander's ribs and chest to his throat. Xander gasps, and then Spike is stepping away, kicking his boots off, shedding his jeans in one swift movement. He rummages in his duster, pulling out something, and Xander pushes himself over - gets up on shaky legs and kneels on the couch, elbows on the back, head down. Waiting - wanting. Knowing what comes next. There is crackling and soft cursing from behind him.

"Bloody safety packaging," Spike mutters, and Xander can't help it - he has to laugh, and Spike presses up close behind him, cock slipping between Xander's legs and cool belly pressed to his buttocks.

"Not so funny when you can't get the sodding stuff off," Spike says, his hand slipping down. Xander feels Spike's cock pushing at him, cool and insistent and wonderfully slick, and he takes a hard breath in and pushes back. The tip of it slips in, and Xander stiffens - shivers.

"God, Spike… It's been so long…" Spike's hands, which have been rubbing up and down Xander's back, stop.

"You didn't have anybody while I was gone, pet?"

"Fuck no. Spike…" Xander tries to push back further and Spike moves with him, moving away. The vampire bends over, arms around Xander's ribs, lips at the nape of his neck.

"You really… Not anybody?" His voice is so soft - utterly amazed.

"Really. Only want you, Spike - only wanted you this whole time. Fuck, please - " Spike lingeringly kisses his neck and shoulder - moves slowly forward, inch by inch, making it last, making Xander moan. Spike finds that place, deep inside, and pushes against it, and Xander jerks, hardening again, something like a cascade of sparks fountaining up his spine, down his thighs. Spike's hands are on his hips, holding him so still, and Xander fights him - tries to move - but Spike controls him effortlessly.

"That the place, Xander? That feel good? Right there?" He moves - back an inch, forward an inch, hitting the spot again, again, and Xander's legs are trembling now, his belly heaving with his panting breaths. Every time Spike moves it's fire and needles and a giddy rush of blood, pounding through him, and his voice is getting hoarse, now, his hands aching from clutching the back of the couch. Spike can do this for hours - has, before, but Xander needs something else this time - tonight. Needs something more.

"Spike," he whispers, twisting to look over his shoulder, to look at the vampire who is arched over him, eyes wide and golden, mouth a little bloody where he's bitten his own lip.

"Kiss me, Spike - wanna taste it -" Spike blinks - moves again, roll of his hips, and Xander arches and groans aloud.

"Please Spike, wanna taste you -" Spike leans forward - cool belly and chest against Xander's back, like ice on skin that is almost glowing with heat. Xander cranes his neck - takes Spike's lip into his mouth and sucks, pulling the tiny punctures open, tasting the salt-savory blood that wells there. He bites - kisses harder, and Spike's hands dig into his hips, crescent-shaped cuts from his nails and that's just more fuel to the fire. Spike starts to thrust in earnest, building speed and force, and Xander puts his head down onto the couch-back - rolls it to the side, baring his throat, letting his knees slip a little wider, letting Spike in a little deeper.

"Dreamed this, love - oh fuck you're beautiful, you're so lovely around me, so hot…" Spike is hurting him now, just a little, almost enough, and Xander arches his back - thrusts back into him. After so long, so very long, he finally feels right - feels whole. The cool weight of the vampire on him - the solid, perfect length of him, filling and pushing and making him shiver, making him shout, and this is what he's wanted, what he's missed. Spike's body pounding against his, demonic strength that holds and moves and makes him - keeps him safe even when he can't think, can't see, can't breathe.

"Spike, want you - please, please, please, do it, please Spike, now…" He doesn't even know if he's coherent - he can't even hear himself, just knows what he wants from the vampire - what he must have, the final thing, and Spike knows, as well, and his hips are like a machine, oiled and implacable and brutal, and his mouth is on Xander's throat - is open and wet against him. Xander arches into that touch - wails in purest ecstasy as Spike's fangs slash into him and sink deep. It's white-out, then, and every muscle in Xander's body is locked - ridged - and Spike's hand on his cock is almost too much and he comes again - feels Spike inside him, doing the same, wash of coolness in the furnace of his body. The fangs are a point of a deep, pleasurable ache that spreads to his whole body and Spike's arm is crushing Xander to him as he drinks and drinks and finally pulls away, gasping hoarsely into Xander's neck as the last tremors of orgasm ripple through him. They both begin to come back - come down - and Xander's legs give way and Spike goes with him, twisting so that they fall onto the couch. Spike pulls Xander up tight against him, chin on his shoulder and arms around heaving belly, cock still held inside. His back is against the corner of the couch back and arm, holding them both up. Xander just slumps boneless against him, breathing in great gulps of air, letting his head fall back onto Spike's shoulder and turning it just enough so that he can kiss the long arch of the vampire's throat.

After long minutes they're calm, Xander's breathing back to normal. He shivers just a little as the sweat begins to evaporate off him. Spike licks at his neck where the bite is, sending a flutter of arousal through Xander's stomach and groin.

"Oh man, fuck, that was… That was what I've wanted…for so long…" Xander whispers, and Spike kisses the hinge of his jaw - his cheek.

"Perfect, love, just like I remembered." Spike reaches out to the cigarettes he left on the coffee table and snags one - looks around for his Zippo.

"In your jeans," Xander says, smiling, and Spike groans.

"Too far away. I got matches in the duster…" He stretches - moves in Xander and Xander shudders at the push of hardening flesh inside him. *Oh fuck, I forgot about that, forgot he could… I can't even move.* Spike catches the edge of his duster and pulls it towards him and rummages for matches. He pulls them out and they're tangled with something - some sort of cord that starts to fall to the floor and Xander catches it. It's hair, dark and blond, and brown, all braided together in a long, long loop. It's slightly creepy and Xander holds it gingerly, wondering what the hell it is. Spike strikes a match - lights the cigarette and inhales - reaches for the thing and holds it up.

"Dru's cat's cradle. She made me take it. Her hair and mine, and yours. Said it was like…a scrying glass, to have all of us together, wound up like that." Spike balances the cigarette on the edge of the coffee table, ember jutting out over the ratty carpet, and loops the cord around his hands - between his fingers and around, making two long x's.

"You know what to do next, love?" Spike whispers, and his hips are moving just a little, just enough to make Xander feel it, and Xander nods his head.

"Yeah, I know." He grasps the center of the x's in thumb and forefinger - turns his hands out and brings them down and around and up again, making the next figure. Then Spike does the same, another figure, and then Xander again, and Spike bends to the bite mark, teeth worrying over it. Xander just sighs, thighs tense as he moves against Spike.

"Jacob's Ladder," Spike murmurs, holding the last pattern. "Ladder to heaven…I'll never climb it…heaven is here…" The pattern dissolves as Spike slips the cord free, tossing it down, and his hands rub over Xander's body, over chest and shoulders, belly and hips and thighs, touching every part, re-claiming every part. "Mine, my own," he says, and Xander looks up at him, into layers of blue on blue, and he has to agree - heaven is here.