by Tesla

Xander was in Japan.

Not that he was much of a tourist, just a Watcher-type who went where he was told. It seemed that, along with the whole demon-magnet package, there came a side of Slayer-magnetness. So Xander went where Giles and the New Council told him, and the Slayers found him, he put them on planes, and it was on to the next stop.

Sometimes he had a little downtime, and he could take in the sights. Times like this, he missed having someone to talk to. Not a new someone, not one of the Watcher-types that were emerging in the wake of the First's jihad, who were respectful of Xander. They acted like he was Giles, or someone.

No, he needed someone who knew him before the "Children of the Crater" website went up, back when Xander kept a box of stakes with his box of tools in the trunk of his car, back when Xander was building houses, instead of a sisterhood of Slayers.

Be careful what you wish for, he thought later.

Yaeko, the latest Japanese Slayer, had given him the address of a nice, comfortable "Edo-style" inn, tucked away in one of the older neighborhoods of Tokyo. He could stay within the neighborhood, and eat in the local sushi and noodle shops, drink in the local bar, go to the local hot baths, and then take a taxi to the airport.

Sounded like a plan.

Xander liked Japan, liked Japanese food and tea and beer, liked the softness of padded quilts and the sound of rice-paper screens sliding shut. He even liked watching "Iron Chef" and the other odd game shows, and samurai movies, liked wearing the hotel's kimono. No one needed him to do anything, get anything, or kill anything. It made for a nice change.

He was sitting at a corner sake shop, the second evening, wondering if he should go to a Noh play---the innkeeper had recommended it highly---or to a puppet show---recommended by the maid. Or maybe, just maybe, he could sit here on this chair, for a couple of years. Even though he was taller than most of the passer-by, no one gave him more than a careful, polite glance, as he drank his beer.

Until the guy in the black motorcycle jacket kept walking back and forth, back and forth, and triggered Xander's inner paranoid. He looked up, and it was Spike. "Bloody hell," Spike said, in wonderment, and he walked straight across the street and the clog of bicyclists and cars and pedestrians as if he was walking through fog.

And there was unmanly hugging, for a breathless moment, as Xander's hands and arms were holding something he never, ever thought would hold again: the living coolness of a vampire. And the vampire was slapping him on the back and was that a sniffle?

Spike suddenly let go of him and looked him up and down. "You aren't quite as surprised as I would have thought, Harris."

Xander sat back down in his chair and waved Spike to the other one. "Andrew told me you were alive, and with Angel in LA. I think that last one surprised me more than the first part."

"You don't know the half of it. Angel, and his heroics." Spike sat down. "Do you know how fuckinghard it is to kill a goddamn dragon? It takes all bleeding night, mate. Fucking poof was all," Spike went into a rather convincingly flat American accent, "'I wanna kill the dragon.'"

Xander signaled the waitress for another beer. He had a feeling he was going to need it.

"The damn thing was doing reconnaissance, wasn't bothering a soul, but no, Angel has to go throw a fucking ax at it!" Spike took a reviving draught of Xander's beer and barreled on. "And Bluey? Well, you never met her. Some kind of God-King. Last thing I saw, she had poor Charlie over her shoulder and was headed into the sewers, dragging Captain Forehead behind her. His head was thumpin' on the curbs, but since he's thicker 'n shit in a bottle, he should be all right. Hope they're happy together. Went in the opposite direction, m'self. Never should have let Charlie get in that fight. But that's bleedin' Angel, never learns, head harder than a fucking--may learn something after Bluey makes him her pet, though."

Another fortifying swallow to finish off the beer, and Spike grabbed Xander's new drink from the waitress. "Heard you been in Africa? Many Slayers down there?" Spike tossed out with the most perfunctory semblance of interest.

Xander smacked the pale vamp-hand and regained his beer. "So, you've seen Buffy?"

Spike looked panicky. "No! I mean, when?" He sighed. "Saw Andrew when he took that mad Slayer from us. Well, before that." Spike lifted both hands off the table. "Girl that sawed my hands off. Dana."

Xander felt his irritation drain away momentarily. "Dana sawed your hands off? Andrew never said who she did that to." The thought of Spike's shapely, artistic hands being mutilated gave Xander a shudder.

"Good as new, though," Spike said. He pushed one sleeve back. "See? Not even a mark."

Without thinking, Xander put his hand on Spike's forearm, and was momentarily struck by how brown his hand was against the smooth ivory of Spike's skin.

Spike looked down, his brows quirking together for a moment. He looked back up at Xander, and for a moment, his expression softened.

Only for a moment. "What about you, mate? Waitin' for Buffy to break up with the Immortal before you make your move, or are you just countin' on bein' her Watcher when old Rupert kicks?"

Xander stiffened. "No."

"No to which one?"

"No to all of it. No to Buffy, no to being her Watcher." Xander peeled the corner of the label from his new beer bottle. "Did Andrew tell you about Anya?"

Spike had been tamping a cigarette on the back of his hand, but he stopped to look Xander in the surprisingly realistic, Council-funded prosthetic eye. "Yes, he did. I'm sorry. Anya was one of a kind. I liked her."

"Yes, she was. And once you've had someone love you as much as Anya loved me, you don't settle for second best." Xander nodded to the waitress, who brought two more beers. "You should know that, Spike. You told Buffy once that you were love's bitch? Well, it turns out, so am I."

Spike clinked the neck of his bottle with Xander's. "Yeah," he said gently, "I know."

Which didn't explain how Xander ended up in a hot tub with Spike.

True, they weren't exactly alone, because they were first scrubbed down by the attendants and had buckets of water poured over them. Spike's flawless skin being much admired, the maids talked to him more than Xander, and why did Spike know Japanese? And then there was the old fashioned--according to Spike--wooden tub bath, and the drinking of hot sake. Xander thought he was being parboiled, but Spike told him that they were soaking at Western temperatures. "You couldn't take a true Japanese soak," he told Xander. "You'd pass out."

Xander wasn't quite sure about the nakedness, about all that flawless skin being right next to his own full-o'-flaw-and-scars epidermis. It was weirdly non-shocking, though, when Spike huffed out a breath and put one slender, warm hand on Xander's face. "You got a glass eye," he said. "Thought there was something different about you. I like it."

There was no reason why Xander closed his eyes and leaned into that slim hand. There was no reason why Spike's thumb slipped to Xander's mouth, and brushed his bottom lip. There was absolutely no reason, after Xander's heart-felt words about accepting second best, for Xander to open his eyes, let Spike's thumb into his mouth and fall into that intent blue gaze.

Except maybe the sake.


Yeah, it had to be the sake that had Xander making out in the hot tub with Spike, his old---what? Enemy? Friend? War buddy? A fellow bather who was now underwater doing---

doing Xander, and ohsweetchristonapony, Spike was between Xander's thighs and proving to Xander that vampires? Didn't need to breathe. Under the water, Xander's hands were gripping that those smooth, strong shoulders and he wasnot saying stop. He wasn't saying anything at all, because stopping was the last thing he wanted to happen, at this point he didn't care who was giving him head, because, hell, the demons he attracted didn't usually start out with blow jobs.

He'd definitely been with the wrong kind of demons.



The next morning, Spike was lazing about in the futons with Xander. "If I'd known you could give it to a man good an' proper like you did last night, I'd for damn sure looked you up sooner, Harris."

Spike's tone of voice was breezy, but they were actually cuddling and damn it, Xander had missed the apocalypse. The one where he fucked Spike in a Japanese hotel room, with samisen music on the radio, where Xander made Spike growl and thrash under him, the one where Spike was entwined around Xander like a cool...entwining thing, because Xander seemed to have lost a lot of nouns what with the sake and the sex and the sex and the sex.

And the sex.

They sat up at the knock on the door, and Spike said something in Japanese, and two middle-aged nice motherly ladies came in with wide smiles and bed trays of food for them. "Western and Japanese," said one of them. "Just like you ordered, Spika-san."

"Great, perfect," Spike said, getting up with no apparent embarrassment at being buck naked and covered in love-bites. The maid handed him one of the house kimonos, and he tied the sash and sat down at the low Japanese table. "You gettin' up, Xander?" he asked, grinning.

"I'm good," Xander said.

The other maid laid a matching kimono on the foot of the futon, and they both bowed and left the room. The smell of bacon was getting to him, so he tossed back the covers and pulled on his robe. When he sat down, Spike was swallowing the last of the bacon.

"Why are you eating---give me that toast!" Xander snatched at the toast. "You eat the noodles or the rice, or the, dear God, not sushi this early in the morning."

"Well, eat up, then, food's for crap when it's cold."

"You eat blood, " Xander pointed out.

"Yeah, and I'll get some later. You gonna eat those eggs?"

"Yes!" Xander said, almost choking on a sip of orange juice. "God, just because you really know how to give head and have apparently taken out one hemisphere of my brain with your wily vampire charms, doesn't mean---let me eat, god damn it!" He sighed. "This is what the rest of my life is gonna be, isn't it? I'll never, ever get to finish a meal in peace, or finish it at all. Just because I'm weak and that thing you do with your tongue makes me lose it?"

Spike finished and wiped his mouth, fastidiously, with one of the warm towels. "Aah, buck up. 'S for the best, mate, seein' how much weight you'd put on back in the day. Good thing I came along to look after you. Only a matter of time 'til you'd discovered tempura and the Kobe steak places, and it'd be the large, economy-sized Harris again."

Smirking, he crawled around the table until he was right next to Xander, confiscating the loaded fork headed for Xander's mouth and setting it aside. He turned into Xander's lap and expertly untied their kimono sashes with one hand. The other hand sneaked the last piece of toast from Xander's plate.

"I really, really hate you," Xander said, and kissed him.


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