Chapter 25: Encounter

Chapter 25: Encounter

Slow, slow push - pause - slow pull out. And again, and again. Xander tightened his calves around Spike's ribs - ran shaking hands over neck and shoulders and tense, quivering biceps.

* you, ohhh* Above him, golden sparks drifted; demon's eyes, watching him as unwaveringly as he watched back.

*So fucking perfect, you, Xander, love you so much*

*Oh god...* Xander raised his hips a little higher, trembling. His whole body felt as if it were being shot through with an electrical pulse, over and over. A tingling, warming judder every time Spike moved - pressed there. His legs ached - his throat was dry from panting. But he didn't want it to end; he didn't want Spike to stop moving, stop touching, stop being right there, so close he barely knew which was his own body and which was Spike's. A delicious fusion - the link open wide and ghost-sensation of fucking while he was being fucked making him bite his lip bloody - making him clench inner muscles down tight. The feeling was almost more than he could bear, but he loved it. Loved having Spike there in his head. All the lonely years of his childhood sloughing from him like snakeskin - being replaced with this new thing - this Spikeskin of utter want and need and love - blood and sweetness in equal measure. He pulled at the back of Spike's neck, wanting him closer, and Spike obliged; dipping down to kiss him as slowly as he was fucking him -making minute punctures along his neck, just teasing the claim-scar. Xander bit back, not even breaking the skin, hissing in pleasure as Spike's measured thrusts begin to get a little ragged - hurried. Xander mouthed Spike's mark - let his teeth sink in just a bit. Spike's face was pressed tight into him now and Xander felt the change as Spike let the demon all the way out. He ran his hands up over Spike's neck and head and lifted the vampire's face just a little - let his fingertips caress the demon visage, finding the places that make Spike mewl in pleasure. Shuddered a little at the echo that came back to him. His own face tingling in pleasure, his own body arching up and taking Spike further in.

*Mine mine always mine...* Hypnotic murmur from the demon and Xander tipped his head back and urged forward with his hands and the link and Spike claimed him again, bone-deep spasm of pure bliss. His orgasm was almost painful - almost too much. Spike was gasping now, thrusting into him hard enough to shake the bed, and Xander did his own reclaiming, groaning in pleasure as the blood sparked over his tongue and rushed through him like pins and needles - little jolts of lightning.

Afterwards Spike just collapsed on him, rumbling purr like an engine vibrating through them both, and Xander had to laugh at what that felt like; feeling it in his own chest and half-convinced he could do it too, if Spike just kept at it long enough - let him learn it from the inside out.

*Keep you here all night, all day - forever. Don't need to get up. Wolfling can feed us...* Xander laughed aloud, trying to hug Spike closer.

"Fuck, I could do that. Does that mean I'm some sort of...weirdo, that I could do that?"

"Means you're smart," Spike mumbled, licking like a cat at the beads of blood and sweat on Xander's neck - kneading his fingers into Xander's back and making him laugh again.

*You're so sweet...big fluffy kitty-pire...still need to get you that collar.* And that little surge of *oh fuck yeah* made him catch his breath and groan. Xander entertained himself for a few minutes showing Spike exactly what sort of collar - what sort of game - and Spike whimpered into his neck, writhing against him and getting hard again - getting Xander hard with him, sharing his arousal.

*Want you IN me, Xander - fuck...* Spike moved - rolled them over, his thighs fanning wide and taking Xander in - pulling him in. Second time they've done this tonight and Xander pushed forward into still-slick flesh. Spike arched up hard - groaned - urged Xander on with sharp nails and a progression of that little kitty fantasy that left Xander gasping - pounding in. This time, when it was over, Xander was pretty sure he wouldn't be able to move for hours.

*Thank god it's the weekend, Spike, love, can't move, ooohh...* Xander kissed what he could reach - shoulder, collarbone - and just panted, his heart pounding. Demon-blood had changed him, but he still had his limits, even if the limits were a lot further out then they used to be. Spike ran his fingers slowly back through Xander's hair, half asleep himself and the purr cutting in and out. Xander giggled softly.

"You're gonna get a spankin' if you don't quit that," Spike muttered and Xander gave a half-hearted wiggle, feeling the tug of drying semen on their bellies.

"Oooh, promise?"

"Mmmm..." Spike brought one hand down on Xander's buttock, barely enough force to make a sound and Xander snuggled in a little closer.

*Gonna be gross in the morning.*

*Don't care. Love you love you love...wolfling.*

"What?" Xander raised his head and looked at Spike, who lifted up an inch and kissed him.

"Wolfling's coming down the street. Guess we play possum?"

"Oh. Guess so. Don't wanna embarrass Derio." Xander caught it now, the pulse of *frost night moon* that whispered Oz.

"Huh. Don't think we could."

"Oh, sure we could," Xander said, and sent an image - Spike, handcuffs, whipped cream, the kitchen table - that made Spike shake with laughter.

*Well, okay, yeah. That might well do it, pet." Spike sighed and settled Xander over him again, shifting a little so Xander could get his hands under his shoulders.

*Like him. He's good for the wolfling.*

*Yeah.* "He told me his grandma is a - lyalochas? A priestess, back in Puerto Rico."

"Lyalochas - Santeria. Huh."

"You know what that is?" Xander lifted his head from Spike's shoulder and looked at him, utterly unable to keep from grinning into the sleepy blue eyes and contented smile that greeted him.

"Oh, a little bit. It's - one a those religions that started in the islands somewhere when the bloody Catholics tried to convert their slaves. Old religion with a Christian cover so they wouldn't be found out."

"Oh." Xander leaned down to kiss - shifted a little and then froze at the sound of a van door being slammed. "He said that's why he knows about the Hellmouth - she told him about it."

"Huh." Spike kissed him back and then heaved a deep sigh, closing his eyes. "Gotta patrol tomorrow, gotta take care of the Bit..."

"Yeah," Xander shut his own eyes, feeling that drifting feeling of almost-asleep coming over him fast. The front door creaked a bit, opening, and there were a few moments of scuffling and stifled laughter as Oz and Derio got the sofa-bed unfolded. Faint pulse through the link; Oz just content - happy to be home and happy to be with Derio and Xander smiled into Spike's chest and slept.

Patrol was - weird. There was just a strange sort of vibe in the air, and Spike wondered if it was because of Glory or something else. The Slayer and her Watcher had gone out of town on some sort of vision quest, and Spike had been hoping they'd get to do some real damage on patrol - maybe even find some of Glory's scabby little minions and see how much pain they could endure. But there wasn't anything around - everything seemed to be gone or in hiding and Xander and Oz both commented on it, uneasy.

"Doubt it's anything but this bloody Glory. She's got everybody spooked. She's been tryin' to recruit - doin' a sort of 'you're with me or you're dying a slow painful death' kind of thing." Spike couldn't keep a bit of admiration out of the link - that was the proper way to do things, after all - and Xander poked him in the ribs.

"Supposed to be on our side, evil undead," he said, and Spike poked him back, grinning.

"Can't help it if I think she's got the right idea. Won't help her, though. She's still gonna be dead as soon as we figure out how. I still think if me and the Slayer -"

"No, no, and no, Spike!" Xander was frowning now, and Spike cocked an eyebrow at him, patting the duster pockets for his cigarettes. "We talked about that - you and Buffy aren't going to do anything as crazy as taking her on alone. Especially now that we know she does that ...mind suck thing." Xander shuddered and Spike shrugged, lighting up.

"She wouldn't know what hit her," he mumbled.

"Wonder if you could drain her? I mean - god blood. Gotta be good stuff," Oz mused, and Xander poked him.

"Stop that! Don't give him any ideas, Oz!" Oz just grinned, and Spike winked at him behind Xander's back.

*Know you did that!* in the link and Spike laughed out loud.

"Oh, pet, don't -" Spike stopped abruptly, listening, and they shared a look between them - as one began to trot through the cemetery. There was a fight going on somewhere up ahead. They dove through a stand of trees and stopped in consternation. Two vamps, circling - one limping. And Buffy, stake at the ready. One vamp lunged forward and Buffy whirled and kicked and pounced, dusting him. The limping vamp looked as if he wanted to run away but a moment later Buffy flattened him and then she was standing up, dusting off her hands. She glanced over at them and stared for a minute, then walked over.

"Hey Buff, I thought you were out of town - doin' that dreamy visiony questy thing with Giles?"

"Xander. You build things," Buffy said, and Spike snorted, flicking his cigarette butt away.

"No points for statin' the obvious, Slayer," he said, and Buffy turned to look at him.

"Spike. You're a vampire," she said - and launched herself at him, her hand and her stake going up and coming down with deadly intent. Spike dodged, astonished, and kicked her in the back of the knee, making her reel. Xander and Oz were both frozen for one long moment and then they tackled her, pinning her to the ground. She fought back, almost heaving the both of them off, and Oz wolfed a little, growling. Spike stomped on her wrist and snatched the stake away - kneeled over her legs and snarled at

her, demon-faced and furious.

"Slayer, what the fuck are you doing!"

"Buffy! Spike's not the enemy anymore!" *mine mine MINE!* from the hyena and

*Not pack!* from the wolf, anger and bewilderment in equal measure. Buffy stared at them - abruptly stopped struggling.

"Of course he's not. I knew that." She blinked and smiled, and Xander recoiled just a bit. The smile was - strange.

*What in hell -*

*Think she's...under a spell or something?*

*Smells wrong* from Oz, and Spike took in a deep breath - realized it was so.

"Let me up, please," Buffy said, and they exchanged glances.

"You gonna behave, Slayer?"

"Of course I am." That weird smile again, and they slowly got off her. She sat up and brushed her hair back, frowning at the dirt on her hands. Spike crouched by her feet, watching her.

"Slayer, that - vision quest thing - it didn't involve...peyote or some such, did it?" Buffy blinked at him - frowned.

"Of course not! Drugs are for losers." She stood up and brushed off the seat of her pants. "Now I have to go patrol some more. Good night." She strode away, looking determined, and the three of them slowly got to their feet.

"Okay. That was -"

"Weird," Xander finished, and Oz nodded. "Do you think the vision quest thing screwed her up?"

"Dunno. She smelled like..." Spike paused, thinking over the sense-memory in his head.

"Chemicals. Or..." Xander shrugged, looking puzzled. "Like plastic. Like she had a new raincoat on or something. But she didn't."

"Weird," Oz said, and Spike lit another cigarette.

"Let's go to the Slayer's house. See if maybe the witches know something," he said finally, and Xander and Oz agreed. Oz was thinking *Derio* in the link - thinking he needed to call him, tell him not to wait up, and Xander and Spike both felt guilt over that. But Oz just shook his head at them, grinning a little. Derio knew - and understood, and he'd asked, not long after meeting them, just what Spike was.

"Get these...feelings, sometimes. From my abuela, from my granny." A shrug. "Mom says."

"Feeling - what?" Spike asked, for once utterly serious, and Derio had looked at him across the table at the Bronze, his eyes a little distant, his fingers absently finding and turning a green glass bead threaded on a dreadlock.

"Feeling...heat. And - movement? Like you're flame. Always something...bright, in the corner of my eye. Something that makes me" Spike hadn't said anything, then, and Xander had wanted very much to use the seeing, and know what Derio looked like. But he hadn't, and Oz had touched Derio's hand and nodded at Spike.

"Vampire, Derio. An old one." Derio had looked at Spike - nodded once, like that explained everything.

Later, Spike had sat staring blankly at the pages of a book until Xander had nudged him, and then Spike had looked quizzically over at him, head to one side.

"You think he can see" Spike had asked, and Xander had thought about that.

"I think he can see...what you are."

"What am I, then?"

"Special. Mine. Best beloved."

At the Summer's house, the witches, Dawn, and Anya were playing Monopoly, all of them wearing pyjamas. Spike leered appreciatively at Tara and Willow and Anya - chucked Dawn under the chin.

"Havin' a sleepover then? Gonna braid your hair and talk about that - Timberlot fellow?"

"Timberlake, Spike, and I am so not into him. Anymore." Dawn blushed and Spike laughed - threw himself down on the couch next to her.

"Spike, you're wearing eye liner." Anya observed. Spike shrugged, sending a quick, laughing glance towards Xander.

"Thought I'd give the bad guys a thrill." Anya shook her head, but she was smiling.

"So - how'd the vision quest thing go for Buffy?" Xander asked, settling on the floor between Willow and Tara. Oz sprawled down next to Anya and admired her piles of play money.

"Oh, well, see, we don't know about the vision quest thing 'cause - she's not back from the vision quest thing. They'll be back tomorrow." Willow tugged at her robe nervously and Spike grinned at her.

"No - I mean - we just saw her. Out patrolling." Willow looked at Tara - at Anya - and there was a sudden frission in the air. Fear, maybe. Spike felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise, and he sat up, growling just a little.

"She's not come home early, then? Are you sure?"

"Well, of course we're sure; she'd have come straight here, wouldn't she? I mean - she would, right?" Willow looked at Tara again, anxiously, and Tara took her hand.

"Sure she would, sweetie."

"Or maybe she had to de-brief. You know - put down her experiences or something so she went to Mr. Giles house instead," Anya said. She straightened a stack of blue money and smiled. "I like this game."

"Yeah - maybe that's what she did. I think I'll call Giles, just to be sure." Xander got up and went into the kitchen for the 'phone, unease in the link. Spike exchanged glances with Oz - settled back down on the sofa.

"So - what do you mean you just saw her? Where were you?" Dawn asked, looking worried.

"Sunnydale Memorial.," Oz said. "She dusted a couple vamps and..." He stopped, frowning, and Spike picked up where he's left off.

"And had a little chat with us." He glanced up at Xander who was coming back into the living room. He was frowning as well. "No joy then, pet?"

"Huh? No. I mean, no answer at Giles place. I think... I think we'll go by there, see if he's home and just - in the shower or something. Oz -" *Watch Dawn?*

*Yeah. Careful*

*Safe as houses, wolf.*

"Think I'll stay and try to buy Anya out," Oz said, sitting up and scooting closer to the coffee table.

"In your dreams, Mowgli," Anya chuckled, cracking her knuckles. They stared at her. Anya stared back. "Hey, I like Disney, too."

"Oh! We have double-fudge almond ice cream, Oz, want some?" Willow bounced to her feet and Oz smiled up at her.

"Sure Willow." Willow bustled off and Spike stood up, ruffling Dawn's hair.

"You stay in now, hear me, Bit?" Dawn stuck out her tongue.

"Duh. I'm in my pj's already, Spike!"

"Just sayin', Bit." *Let's go*

"Okay, we'll swing by later, after we check Giles' place." Xander waved and Tara stood up, walking them to the door.

"Do you think its okay?" she asked softly, and Spike looked over her shoulder at Dawn and Anya, who were squabbling over whether or not to start fresh or just let Oz start in the middle.

"It'll be fine, Glinda. Just a little mix up or something." Spike held her gaze for a moment and Tara finally nodded.

"Okay - you guys be careful."

"Ta, pet." Spike and Xander slipped out the door and down the walk, and by the time they'd reached the end of the block they were running.

Giles' place was dark and locked - he wasn't home, his car wasn't there. They decided to go by the Magic Box, just in case, and Xander fretted as they jogged down side streets.

*Be all right, love.*

*Yeah...but...* He couldn't shrug off his feeling of wrongness, and it only got worse when they found the Magic Box as deserted as Giles' apartment. They swung back through the cemetery but if Buffy was still around, they didn't find her. Then they went by the Bronze - Willy's - anyplace they could think of. They even roamed over the UCS campus, but everything was quiet.

*Too quiet* Spike thought, and Xander snorted in amusement - looked over at Spike who was grinning around a cigarette, walking along the top of the wall outside of yet another cemetery - Peaceful Rest or something. At the moment, Xander couldn't even remember.

"Who names cemeteries, anyway? They all have these terrible, cheesy names."

"Well, most humans would be upset if they called 'em 'Worm Buffet' or 'Last Stop before Hell Gardens'," Spike said, doing a jump-step over a decorative piece of wrought iron. Xander rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, I guess. Makes more sense, though."

*Everybody wants to hide from death* the soldier mumbled, and Xander winced a little. The soldier had been - down, lately. Xander had no idea why, unless it was because he repeatedly squashed the soldier's more fanciful solutions to the Glory problem. Hijacking nuclear waste being the latest.

*He's right, though.* Spike thought, and Xander rolled his eyes.

*See! I'm right. Bunch'a pansies pretendin' that there's no death, no pain, no Grim Reaper waitin' for them...*

"Jeez, don't encourage him. He's so...moody, lately."

"He just needs to work out some frustrations," Spike said, jumping down and pinning Xander against the wall. Several minutes of intense 'snogging' at least made the soldier shut up, and they made their way in a convolute fashion back to the Summer's house, arms around each other's waists. Oz was out front, swinging slowly in the porch swing, looking more like a fox than a wolf at the moment. He'd re-dyed his hair the dark henna-red but tipped it with gold and bronze, so that the pale, spiked ends made a sort of glowing halo against the porch light. The house was dark and quiet - the girls all in bed.

*Pack safe* softly, and Xander and Spike joined him, Spike pulling out his flask and having a little sip.

"So, no Buffy?" Xander asked.

"No Buffy. No Giles?"

"Nope." They sat in silence for a long moment, and then Oz sighed.

"I think we should stay here tonight. It feels..." *Wrong. Bad.*

"Yeah. Think you're right, wolf." They sat out a while longer, but it was nearly four a.m. and Xander and Oz were yawning. Spike said he'd make one more quick patrol - he was hungry - and Xander and Oz went inside to light-proof the living room. They made a pallet on the floor, moving quietly, and Xander felt his heart almost stop when he saw a figure on the stairs.

"Christ, Dawn! What are you doing up!" he said in a harsh whisper.

"I was hungry," Dawn said, crossing her arms over her chest and scowling. "Can't I get a snack in my own house?" Xander went over to her - put his arm around her shoulders and hugged her.

"Sure you can, Dawnster. You just startled me is all."

"Your eyes were all - green," Dawn said, looking uncertainly up at him, and Xander grinned at her, urging her off the last step and into the kitchen.

"Yeah. Just the hyena, you know? It can't hurt you."

"Oh. Yeah. I'm not afraid of him - he thinks I'm part of your - your pack." Dawn climbed up on a stool at the island and Xander opened the 'fridge.

"Yeah, that's right. It - he - does. So, what's it gonna be? Pizza, fried chicken, or... ummm....gah." Xander held a Tupperware at arms length, eyeing the greenish contents with trepidation.

"I think that's the leftover beef stew Buffy made. She's discovered the crock pot."

"It's turned, then."

"No, that's what it was like when she made it." They giggled together, and Dawn settled for a slice of cold pizza and a glass of milk. Oz wandered in and dug out crackers and cheese, and Xander made a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. They ate in companionable silence, and all three of them jumped when the back door creaked open.

"Everybody havin' a snack, then? Dawn! You should be in bed." Spike stood in the doorway, faintly outlined by the paling sky, and Dawn frowned at him.

"Sheesh! My house! Late night snack! Over the age of six! Get over it, guys." Dawn chugged her milk and Spike grinned and shut the door - snagged a cheese-and-cracker sandwich from Oz.

*All quiet?"

*Sunnydale is dead, pet.* Xander chuckled and reached for the peanut butter - flinched and almost dropped it when Dawn squealed.

"Spike! You - there's blood! Are you hurt?" She jumped off her stool and darted over to him - reached with her napkin to dab at a streak of blood on Spike's jaw.

"Is there? No, I'm not hurt, Niblet."

"But - where did..." Dawn stared up at him and then a huge grin threatened to crack her face in two. "I knew it! I talked to Anya about it and she said she thought so, and now I know!"

"Know what, Bit?" *What the hell?*

*No idea.* Dawn glanced around - leaned in close to Spike.

"You got the chip out, didn't you." They all three stared at her in shock, and Dawn cackled and bounced in place like a demented old crone. "I knew it!"

"Uh, Dawnie -" *Fuck, Spike, what -*

"Don't worry, Xander, I won't tell anybody. I mean, Spike's good now, so I know he's only eating people that are, you know, murderers and child molesters and stuff. Anya said 'once a demon always a demon' but I know you wouldn't kill innocent people, Spike."

*Good grief.*

*Can't hide anything from the Bit.* Spike looked smug, but also a bit anxious.

"Listen,'re right. It's - gone. But let's just keep it quiet, ok? Red - doesn't need to know."


*Be all right. Niblet's all right.*

*Yeah, but...sheesh.* Xander, Spike and Oz exchanged glances - looked at Dawn.

"Does Buffy know?"

"Yeah, an' the Watcher. I just think Red might - hold a grudge, you know?"

"'Cause you tried to bite her that one time? Buffy told me all about it. I don't think she'd mind."

"Oh, I think she'd mind, Dawn. Let's just keep it our secret, ok?" Xander didn't like that - lying to Dawn - but he wasn't about to tell her about Spike's drunken threats to Willow, either, ages ago when Dru had first left him. The three of them had discussed it, and they just didn't feel...right...telling Willow. She made the wolf and the hyena nervous as hell and the soldier didn't trust her. The demon hated all things magical, oddly enough, and all of that just made Xander second-guess himself. He trusted Willow, but he couldn't put aside the others' feelings, and had reluctantly agreed not to tell her. She didn't really need to know, Spike had said, and if she doesn't ask, there's no need to bring it up. They had no idea if Buffy or Giles had ever spoken about it - it tended not to come up.

Oz thought Tara probably knew, because her abilities to see below the surface were far stronger than she let on. But she'd never mentioned it, and they knew if they told her, they'd have to tell Willow. So for now, the witches were being kept in the dark. Xander didn't like it, but he didn't feel like he had a choice. He glanced unhappily at Spike, then back to Dawn.

"You're right Dawn. Spike is good now, so we don't need to make Willow worry." Xander tried to keep a straight face at the mental barrage of curses and threats that Spike was sending him - Oz didn't even try but laughed helplessly over the cheese. Spike glared at them and stalked into the living room, and Dawn took her glass over to the sink.

"I can tell Anya I'm right though, can't I? She promised she'd buy me anything I wanted off of eBay if I was right." Oz snorted and began wrapping up the cheese and crackers, and Xander got the dishcloth to wipe the island down.

"Oh, why not. Just tell her not to babble it to Tara and Willow, ok? Spike won't hurt them - any of us - so..."

"Okay Xander. We'll keep it our little secret."

"How - what made you think it was gone, anyway?" Xander asked, curious. Dawn looked thoughtful for minute.

"Anya was talking about it. She said - Spike acted different. And then, she saw him down at the Bronze one night and some guy was hassling him over a pool game and he punched him and Anya said it didn't hurt him. I thought maybe the guy was another demon but... She was right. He does act different. More like when he first came here. For a while he was just...angry all the time." Dawn looked seriously over at Xander. "He is good now, right?"

"As good as he'll ever be, Dawn. You don't have to be scared of him, though. He'd never hurt you."

"I know." Dawn grinned up at Xander and bounced into the living room and a moment later the curses started through the link again as Dawn started asking Spike rapid-fire questions about the chip, who he hunted, how it had happened...

*Xander! Get in here! Get her off me!*

*Big Bad needs some help, huh?* Xander tossed the dishcloth down and he and Oz went into the living room. Spike was on the pallet on his back, a pillow over his head, and Dawn was sitting on his stomach pummeling the pillow and whisper-shouting Talk! Talk! Talk!

"C'mon, Dawn, don't torment the poor vampire." Dawn pouted but rolled off Spike - snuggled down on the pallet.

"I wanna sleep down here." She saw the look Xander and Oz shared and sniffed a little. "I'm scared upstairs by myself, with Buffy not here and everything... She's okay, isn't she?" This time the sniff sounded genuine, and Spike came out from under the pillow, shoving it under his head.

"She's fine, Bit. I think her - quest thing - must have been pretty intense, is all, and she just wanted some privacy to work it all out."


"Sure, poppet." Dawn smiled tremulously at Spike and Spike reached out and gently petted her hair. Xander sat down heavily and took off his boots - tossed them into the corner with Oz's and then started on Spike's laces.

*And I thought my childhood was weird. Vampires and werewolves and Hellgods -*

*Oh my* double chorus from Spike and Oz at the same moment and Xander grinned down at Spike's boot-laces, wrenching a knot free.

"You can sleep on the couch, Dawn. It's softer then the floor."

"No, wanna stay down here with you guys," Dawn mumbled, and Xander could see her eyes were closed.

*Oh man, she's out. Think it'd be okay...?*

*It'll be fine. We'll tuck her up all warm.* Spike sat up carefully and pulled off his duster - grabbed a blanket from the stack by the couch and draped it over Dawn. Oz padded into the downstairs bathroom, and after a couple of minutes the wolf trotted out. He stood on Spike's legs, bumping his nose into Spike's chest, then Xander's, *Pack love you.*

*Love you too, wolf.* Oz yipped very softly and then curled up on the other side of Dawn, nose on paws. Xander got Spike's boots off then grabbed another blanket and lay down next to Spike - sighed happily when Spike spooned up behind him, holding him close.

*Love you Oz. Love you, Spike, my Spike. Be all right, huh?*

*Love you too pet. It'll be fine.*