Year of the Cat

The pain is unrelenting. Who knew that your ribcage was so - flexible? Every time Xander takes a breath, he can hear it, creaking and groaning under the bandages. He can feel the broken ends rubbing together ever so slightly. And oh god it hurts. He wishes he didn't have to breathe - briefly wishes he were a vampire - but then, if he were a vampire he'd be all healed up by now, and it wouldn't matter. Four days, lying in this rigid hospital bed. Four days of that stale, warm, antiseptic air, that always makes him feel like he's suffocating. Four days of bustling, cheery nurses who take blood pressure and temperature and pat him on the shoulder. Four days of no TV, because he head just aches; concussion and a cracked skull, they say, you got lucky. During the day, he wakes up and looks around, and Buffy will be there, or Willow, or Tara or Dawn - spelling each other on Xander-sitting duty. Giles comes by towards evening, and Anya pops in at odd hours. Even Joyce has been by, but she is uneasy in the hospital, and Xander doesn't blame her.

His parents haven't come by, but he's glad of that. Three long nights, when he wakes shuddering, gasping - trying so hard not to move or breathe too deeply but the scenes in his head just won't quit, and he cries, finally - tries not to sob or gasp but does, anyway. Feels the cold tears threading into his hair and in his ears and whimpers every time he has to breathe. He fingers the call-button but doesn't push it - doesn't want light and noise and clucking sympathy, just wants...something... The fourth night, he wakes to a light touch on his cheek and his eyes fly open - his heart surges in panic.

"There, love - just me." Whiskey-and-honey voice out of the gloom, and Xander catches his breath and almost cries again, because he's so glad, so very glad.

"Sspike..." he whispers, and the cool fingers ghost over his face - down his throat. They flutter over his cast - over the bandages and the I.V. and come back to his head, to softly comb through his hair.

"I've got you, pet," Spike whispers, and the bed shakes a little as the vampire settles, light as a feather, on the edge. Xander sniffs and breathes and tries to move, but his ribs send little hot knives through his chest, and his back is one huge ache and he groans - tries to muffle it.

"Love, what happened?" Spike's hand, still petting through his hair, and it feels so good, that cool skin, that delicate, loving touch, and Xander pushes a little into the vampire's palm, his eyes falling shut.

"You heard about - Glory? New nasty in town?" He murmurs, and the hand hesitates - resumes it's soothing rhythm.

"Yeah. She's got these little goons - they're runnin' all over town, tryin' to recruit everybody. She's crazy, pet."

"Yeah. She's a god, Spike. Hellgod. She wants something that - that Buffy's got. She thought - I had it. So...this." The hand has stopped altogether, and Xander opens his eyes - looks up at the profile that's limned in the glow from the hallway. Dark eyes on his and they flare for a moment, lambent gold and then human again, and Xander shivers just a little. Spike's hand slides weightlessly down his arm - skips over the I.V. and the long fingers are twining with his, squeezing gently.

"This, what? She attacked you?"

"Her - little goons. They heard me talking to Buffy - thought I knew where this - thing was. So they jumped me, dragged me off t-to her place. She...tried to make me t-tell her - " Xander's throat is closing up fast, and Spike's hand grips tighter - loosens. He leans forward, and Xander gasps in helpless delight as Spike nuzzles into his cheek - kisses him all over his face, being extra-gentle over the long track of stitches that march from left temple to jaw. That eye is still mostly swollen shut - his lips are stiff with the special glue they used, instead of stitches. But Spike kisses him, merest pressure of lips and the shallowest dart of tongue. Just enough to make Xander want more. Enough to make him smile lopsidedly. He's surrounded by Spike's scent, now - leather and smoke, lemon and caramel, and it's heady and heavenly after the oppressive deadness of the hospital air.

"Didn't know you had a thing for Frankenstein's monster, Spike."

"Love -" Spike's voice chokes off, and his hand grips a little too hard, for just a second. Xander squeezes back.

"I'll be ok." He says. He feels as if he's floating. Not even Willow's stoic cheerfulness and daily babble have made him feel this good.

"Course you will, pet." Spike lifts their hands - rubs his cheek along the back of Xander's hand -presses his knuckles to his mouth.

"So - what is this thing? Why does she want it?" Xander thinks about that for a minute - long enough to make Spike shift on the bed.

"It's - a magical thing. A key. She has to have it to go back to - wherever she came from."

"Oh. So - why not give it to her? Then she's gone -"

"Can't. It - it opens a portal to her dimension. And when that happens...Giles says all the walls between the dimensions will come down. Everything will just - be gone. All of us, and the world...everything. These monks - they were hiding it from her forever. She killed them all." A long silence, and then Spike is kissing his fingers again - nibbling on the tips and slipping them into his mouth, sucking gently. Xander closes his eyes, just feeling that - trying not to breathe too deeply, trying not to gasp when Spike places a soft, open-mouthed kiss in the palm of his hand.

"Oh, god...Spike..." he whispers, and Spike's other hand is stroking his hair again - running lightly down his chest and worming under the sheet - cupping the arch of Xander's hip in his hand and rubbing gently. Xander feels his cock hardening - shifts a little in the bed and flinches when his ribs flare, white-hot.

"Ow, fuck -" Spike freezes - inches his hand away and Xander puts his free hand on top of it, clumsy in the cast, holding it in place. "It's okay, it's - everything just hurts, fuck -" Xander feels tears threatening and squeezes his eyes shut. He feels so stupid, crying over this, but it just won't let up, and its torture, because he has to breathe and that hurts and he has to pee and that hurts, and there just doesn't seem to be one thing that he can stop doing so he'll stop hurting. Spike's hand goes back to that gentle caress on his hip, and suddenly he leans forward - kisses Xander's face, tongue darting at the tears that have edged out between his eyelids.

"I know somethin' that would help with that," he murmurs, biting oh-so-gently on Xander's jaw, and Xander shivers and opens his eyes.

"Wh-what do you mean?" He whispers, and Spike nuzzles lower - kisses Xander's throat, right below the hinge of his jaw - trails his tongue there for a moment. His hand has moved lower - is now stroking Xander's belly.

"A little taste of my blood, pet. A few swallows - it'll help you heal up ever so much faster. Make all this hurt go away."

"Really?" Xander turns his head so that his cheek is rubbing on Spike's head - on the slightly crunchy hair and one cool ear.

"Really, pet. Got magic in it, doesn't it? Lots of magic, to keep this body like it is - magic to turn blood into fuel. Make those ribs stop hurting - make your face feel better." Spike's voice is low and soothing, his lips just brushing Xander's collarbone and shoulder - pausing to lap at the hollow of his throat. Xander moves his hips very carefully - arching up a tiny bit into Spike's hand, into the fingers that are combing through his pubic hair.

"What - will it do anything else to me? I mean -" Xander stops, and he feels Spike's mouth smile against his chest.

"Won't turn you, if that's what you're thinkin'. It'll just heal you up a bit faster and..." He dips lower, to the edge of the bandages. Takes a nipple into his mouth and sucks - bites - and Xander grits his teeth and breathes slow, slow. He groans aloud when Spike's hand cups his balls - lifts and tugs and rolls them in his hand.

"Spike - oh god - please -" Xander wants to thrust - to pant - to open his legs and take Spike in but he can barely move and he's getting lightheaded from the shallow breathes he's forcing himself to take.

"Want to, pet?" Spike whispers, and his hand slides the length of Xander's cock - squeezes.

"Oh, yeah, oh - want to - " Xander can hardly see - can't think, with Spike's hand there and his mouth there and, oh fuck. Spike's thumb over the head of his cock, and then Spike is sitting up - lifting his hand to his mouth and licking his thumb, his eyes glittering at Xander, demon-gold.

"Alright love. Ready?"

"Yeah, I - wait. You said 'and'. 'And' what?"

"Hmmmm?" Spike slides his thumb out of his mouth - puts it back on Xander's cock. Xander squeezes their still-linked hands.

"What's the 'and'?"

"You'll just - make the other vamps think twice, is all. Have a bit of me in you, they'll know it. It'll make 'em...wary."

"Oh." Xander thinks about that - twitches a little as Spike's hand continues its slow petting of his cock - his hips and belly. "Ok, then. It won't - Buffy won't -"

"Nah. Not enough to do that." Spike leans down and kisses him again, a little harder this time, a little deeper, and Xander's head is swimming - ringing. Spike pulls away and raises his wrist to his mouth - holds it out - and Xander sees the cut that he's made there. Razoring fang slicing easily through the pale skin and blood is welling up, black in the dimness. Xander can smell it - a salt-metal smell, with an underlying citrus tang that reminds him of tequila - margaritas - something... He opens his mouth, and Spike is pressing his wrist to his lips, and the blood suddenly flows in and Xander is drinking it. Spike mewls softly; his head ducking down low, his hand stuttering to a stop on Xander's cock. Xander drinks - metal-salt-citrus and some underlying spice, peppery and bright, somehow, that he thinks is the magic - the demon. It's savory and wonderful and it seems to flood him with tingles of electricity - of heat, even though Spike is cool against his mouth, and the blood is cool on his tongue. He swallows again and again, and Spike is panting now, moving on the bed, and Xander reaches out and presses the flat of his hand to Spike's groin. He's hard, under the denim, and his hips jerk spasmodically forward into the touch. Suddenly Spike is pulling away, and Xander tries to follow - to take more - but Spike puts the wrist to his own mouth, licking it clean, and his eyes are wide and feral, watching Xander.

"Spike, that - god -"

"Oh yeah, pet. Good, isn't it? Almost as good as when I drink from you." Spike darts forward, sealing his mouth over Xander's, his hand suddenly tight and sure around Xander's cock. Xander arches up into that cool grasp, and the pain from his back, from his ribs flares up and then out and becomes something more - something else - and he can feel Spike's blood in him - feel it working through him. Spike is licking into his mouth like a cat and Xander scrabbles with his un-casted hand at Spike's jeans - jerks the fly open, pop of metal buttons. Spike's cock is sticky-wet, so hard, and Xander tugs at it - tugs at Spike while he scoots a little lower in the bed - turns on his side.

"What - Xan -" Spike finally pulls away, gasping, and Xander tugs again.

"Come up here, want to taste you -" he whispers, and Spike groans. Xander is on his side now, the grating of his ribs lost in the curling wave of giddy heat and sparks that is Spike's blood. Spike stands - moves to the head of the bed and his cock is right there, just the right height and Xander snakes forward and pulls him in. As his mouth closes around Spike the vampire shudders, and one hand is on Xander's neck, urging him forward, the other on the bed. Xander sucks - licks - lets his teeth scrape the sensitive head, lets his tongue flutter along the underside. He pulls Spike closer by one hip - cups the taut buttock in his hand and digs in a little, pulling at Spike and wishing he didn't have a cast on the other hand. Spike's legs are trembling - the bed frame is creaking where his hand is closing down on it and Xander pushes a little further - gets Spike as far back in his throat as he can and sucks, letting his teeth bite down just a little, pushing one fingertip in, twisting and pulling. Spike is gasping - panting - trying to be quiet as he comes and his hips are thrusting hard. Xander swallows again and again, the edge of pain in his sore jaw spurring him on, the taste rich on his tongue. When Spike finally relaxes, slumping a little into the bed, Xander pulls back slowly, making sure to get every drop, kissing and licking until Spike lets out a breathless laugh and pulls away.

"Love, that was... Gotta do that more often." Spike crouches down and kisses him, that hand still on his neck, pulling him close. Then he's gliding down, trailing wet tongue and sharp teeth, and the water-cool flesh of his mouth takes Xander to the root, one fast downward push. Xander's hip strain forward - he claws the sheet and tries not to shout and Spike growls around his cock - slides his fingers down Xander's back and to the crease of his buttocks. The blood is singing in Xander's veins - in his head - and it makes every touch feel like fire, like needles. It's shivery and breathtaking and good and Xander pulls his leg up, his cast behind his knee and Spike is pushing two fingers into his mouth, pressing on his tongue and Xander sucks. Then the fingers are gone, are pushing into him with a twist, a sharp scrape of nail and Xander muffles his shout in the pillow and is coming, so hard. Spike sucks - swallows - mouths his cock until he can't stand it anymore, until it almost hurts and Xander pushes lightly on his shoulder, pushing him back. Spike draws away, grinning, and Xander just collapses, breathing more deeply then he has since he got here. There is a shock and flare at every inhalation, but it's not really pain, and Xander barely notices that Spike has pulled up the sheet - tidied himself away. The vampire lifts the pitcher on the bedside cabinet and shakes it - pours water out into a cup and holds it where Xander can reach the bendy straw that's poking over the top. Xander sucks the water down - closes his eyes and smiles as Spike puts the cup aside and crouches down - resumes kissing him, slow and sweet. After a bit they break apart, and Spike pushes sweaty hair off Xanders forehead.

"Better now, pet?"

"Oh yeah. Can we do that again tomorrow?" Spike chuckles - pushes at Xander's cheek with his forehead.

"Maybe better not. Try the day after, all right?"

"Mmmm. You're the boss," Xander murmurs. His eyes are closing - there is a warm and heavy lassitude washing over him like the tide, and he sinks into it without a struggle.

"Don't you forget it," Spike whispers, and kisses him again.

"Love you," Xander says, on a sigh. He'll remember later that Spike takes in a sharp breath at that - that his voice has a tremble in it as he speaks. But for now, all he can do is smile, because Spike pets the side of his face - his hair, and whispers back.

"Love you too."

When Xander wakes up, he feels...refreshed. Spike is next to him in the bed, propped against the extra pillows and reading one of the magazines that Willow brought. The clock on the TV says 4:27, and Xander blinks and rubs his eyes - goes up on one elbow and smiles at the vampire. He still hurts, but the pain is muted now - blunted. Spike looks at him over the magazine and smiles back.

"What'cha readin'?" Xander asks, and Spike turns the magazine towards him a little.

"Something about Chinese Astrology. What year were you born?"

"1981." Xander says, and Spike runs his finger down the magazine page.

"Huh. Year of the Monkey." He glances up at Xander, eyes bright with amusement. "Figures."

"Ha ha," Xander says, swatting his leg. "What's it say about Monkey people?" Spike snorts laughter and Xander feels compelled to swat him again.

"Stop that. It says your secret ambition is to be a hero. And...that you have an "inner spirit imbued with the lightning energy of our ancestral primates". Spike is grinning and Xander sticks out his tongue.

"Whatever. What about you? What are you?"

"Hrmmm...1880..." Spike muses, and looks down the page.

"You were born in 1880?" Spike glances at him, the demon surfacing for a moment.

"In a manner of speaking," he says, and Xander stares - grins. "Ok - Year of the Cat. Cat people...let's see... "exceptionally sensitive and unusually alert"....and..."high degree of intelligence and refreshing honesty"... Ooh, others are not as quick-witted as we are!" Spike smirks over at Xander and he snatches the magazine out of the vampire's hands, tossing it to the floor.

"Does it say anything about snotty and stuck up?" Spike makes a lightning-fast move and Xander finds himself being kissed into breathlessness. His hands are under the duster, clutching Spike's t-shirt in his fists, and Spike growls happily into his mouth.

"You just don't wanna hear the truth," he says when he finally pulls back, and Xander rolls his eyes.

"Riiiight," he drawls. Spike leans into him for a moment, small sigh, then he's sitting up, looking towards the door and the hallway beyond.

"Doin' rounds or somethin' out there. Time for me to go, pet."

"Ok...see you tomorrow?"

"Course, love." Spike helps him get settled in the bed - smoothes the sheet over his chest and looks at the I.V - touches the cast. "How long?"

"Hmmm? Uh - in here, a couple more days they think. The cast and stuff...six weeks." Spike nods - smiles at him.

"We'll shorten that up in no time. Amazing healing factor of vampire see-"

"Stop!" Xander mock-growls, and Spike leans down for one last kiss, fingers brushing through Xander's hair.

"See you tomorrow, love," he whispers, and then he's up and moving, towards the door.

"Spike -" Xander calls, and the vampire pauses, looking back at him.


"I meant it, you know." Spike looks at him for a long moment, head to one side. And then he smiles, huge and happy and free of any snark or smirk.

"Yeah? Me too." And he's gone, rustle of leather, and Xander snuggles happily into the pillows that have Spike's scent on them, just faintly. Smoke and leather and caramel. It's what love smells like.



Chinese Astrology stuff stolen without permission from here: