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Rules 4
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Part 4

Tom and Jerry left just after New Year’s and life for Xander returned to what passed for normal. He worked hard at the construction site, learning all that he could and actually being surprised when he showed skills in carpentry. He and Spike hung out once or twice a week usually playing pool at the Bronze, though occasionally they would end up back at Xander’s place for pizza and movies. Xander was pleased to find that their budding friendship continued without any backlash from the night they spent together. In fact, other than talking to Tom or Jerry on the phone when one of Spike’s visits intersected with one of Tom’s calls, Spike never mentioned that night. Normally, having been that open and vulnerable in front of Spike would have made Xander shy away from the Vampire, but Spike treated it as if it wasn’t any more remarkable than them playing pool together and as a result, Xander felt more relaxed around Spike than he did around any one else. He actually felt like he could be himself around Spike.

 

His friendships with the Scooby Gang weren’t going so well by half. Giles treated him as he always did, like the older man wasn’t quite sure how to connect with him. Xander hung out at Giles’ for research meetings still and the like, but his relationship with Giles was distant at best. Willow had made an effort to see Xander regularly, but the appearance of Tom and Jerry had shaken her and she was more withdrawn around him of late. Though Xander suspected that also had something to do with the ‘someone special’ that Willow kept mentioning. As sad as it was to be distanced from his best friend, Xander was glad that Willow seemed to be moving on after Oz.

 

Buffy was a completely different story. The surprise birthday party they had thrown last month for Buffy was the last time Xander had really spent much time with her. She was wrapped up college and in Riley, who Xander didn’t trust, and ever since Buffy had met Tom and Jerry she had been eyeing Xander oddly. Like he wasn’t the same person she had known before. Well, he wasn’t, but instead of making an effort to get to know the new Xander, Buffy was acting as if his changes had hurt her personally. He tried to make an effort to hang out with her, volunteering to help her patrol on the weekends and such, but she kept blowing him off. It was all too frustrating for Xander to think about too much, which was why, once again snubbed by Buffy, he was currently sprawled across his couch, matching Spike drink for drink and indulging in the guilty pleasure of some gratuitous sex and violence movies.

 

Xander lifted the shot glass, eying it warily, and then looked to the identical one in Spike’s hand. “Hey! I think there’s more in mine, that’s not fair.”

 

“Whelp, I’ve been drinking three shots to your one. This drinking contest is about as fair as it gets between a Vampire and a Human.”

 

“Well, I still think you’re not as drunk as you should be.” Xander grumbled.

 

Spike shrugged and tossed back his shot then set the glass back down on the coffee table. Only he missed and dropped the glass on the floor. Xander burst out laughing. “Never mind, you’re drunk enough.”

 

Spike snorted and picked his glass up, carefully setting it on the table and pouring himself another shot. “No such thing as drunk enough.”

 

Xander shook his head as the fiery alcohol poured down his throat. “Yes there is, and I’m it.” He tossed his empty glass aside and collapsed back into the couch. “You win. Go ahead, do your evil Vampire guy victory dance. You drank me under the table. I’m under you, or the table. Only I’m not. Huh.”

 

Xander paused and tried figure out what he had just said. Spike however seemed to get it, because he was suddenly leaning over Xander and leering. “You’re not under me but you could be. You’ve been before.”

 

Xander looked up into blue eyes that were suddenly very close. “Um, yeah, but that was, you know, different.”

 

“Different pet?” Spike leaned in close and began sniffing his neck.

 

“Yeah, um, it was special.”

 

“Mmm, yes it was.”

 

“No!” Xander pushed Spike away. “I mean special like, a special cir…circumstance, not a normal thing.”

 

“What’s the matter?” Spike’s eyebrow arched eloquently. “Didn’t you like it?”

 

Xander flashed back to that night and was suddenly very aware that it had been a full month since he’d last had sex. “Yeah, of course I did. But…”

 

“But what pet? You liked it, I liked it, why don’t we do it again?”

 

“Because…” Spike was really close and Xander was having trouble getting a coherent thought through his liquor-addled brain. Suddenly it hit him.  “Because we’re friends! Friends don’t have sex!”

 

Spike pulled back and seemed to think about that for a minute. “But we’re friends and we did have sex.”

 

“Oh, yeah. Well, I guess it’s okay then. Can I be on top?”

 

Spike grinned. “Not on your life pet.”

 

~!~

 

Xander woke the next morning with a pounding head. He groaned and stretched, wincing when places that shouldn’t have been sore twinged painfully. Why the hell am I sore there? Xander lay still and tried to remember the previous night. He’d been pissed off at Buffy for blowing him off when they were supposed to patrol, he’d run into Spike on his way home, invited him over for movies and drinking…

 

“Oh god!” Xander sat up quickly and winced as his ass reminded him exactly what he’d been doing last night. Xander scanned the bedroom. It was empty except for him…and a slip of paper on the pillow. Xander picked up the note and quickly scanned it.

               

Xan-

                Thanks for the shag pet. It was fun. Catch you later.

                Spike.

 

Groaning, Xander buried his face in his hands. “I am so fucked! I just wish I could remember it.”

~!~

 

Spike was scarce the next week or two, which was good because Xander hadn’t decided if he was going to freak out about them sleeping together or not. He went back and forth in his head as the week wore on, one day deciding that if it hadn’t affected their relationship the first time then it wouldn’t the second time, while the next day he was convinced that he had ruined the best friendship he had going for him in Sunnydale. It didn’t help matters that Spike was nowhere to be found on their normal Bronze and pool night.

 

It was almost two weeks later when Spike finally showed up, barreling into Giles’ place under cover of a blanket, swearing up a storm and babbling about being followed. Willow and Xander were over on the premise of helping Giles research, but really they were just worried about the older man, he had been awfully quiet since the whole ‘turned into a demon’ thing a couple of weeks back.

 

“Spike? What’s wrong?” Xander shut and locked the door behind Spike and turned to the agitated Vampire.

 

“They’re following me. Those commando blokes. They ambushed me in the cemetery last night. The bloody tossers, shot me I haven’t been able to shake them since.”

 

Giles glared at the Vampire who was invading his home. “And we should help you why?”

 

Xander went to jump to Spike’s defense but the Vampire beat him to it. “Because I helped you the other week when you had that little turned into a Frayrl Demon problem.”

 

“And you helped me out of the goodness of your own heart?”

 

Spike looked at the watcher incredulously. “No, you paid me…oh bloody hell.” Scowling, Spike dug a wad of bills out of his pocket and slapped it into Giles’ outstretched hand. “That’s all there is left. The rest went into blood and smokes, lot of good it did me. Fucking soldiers.”

 

Willow watched the transaction with shock. “You made Giles pay you to help him?”

 

Spike tossed the blanket and his coat aside and began removing his shirt. “Yeah. How else am I supposed to eat? Can’t very well hunt for my blood like a normal Vampire now can I?”  Spike removed his shirt and turned his back to the small group. “Now, make with the helping.”

 

Xander could see the entry wound from whatever he’d been shot by high up on Spike’s right shoulder. Hurriedly he went to grab the first aid kit while Giles instructed Willow to get towels and fresh water. Xander came back with the first aid kit and a bottle of whiskey he’d found it Giles’ kitchen. “Here you go Spike, anesthesia.”

 

“Ta pet.”

 

They set to work digging the bullet out of Spike’s shoulder, or more appropriately Giles went to work, assisted by Xander while Willow hovered and worried loudly.

 

Finally, because whatever it was, was in deep, they found the bullet. “Huh, that’s odd.”

 

“What’s odd watcher? Just get it out already!”

 

“It’s blinking.”

 

“What?!”

 

A flash of memory and Xander felt a cold clench of fear in his stomach. “It’s a tracer. They’re using it to track Spike electronically.”

 

“How do you know that whelp?”

 

“Halloween a couple of years back I was possessed by a soldier. I still have some of the memories.”

 

Giles wiped the blood off his hands. “Yes, well, we know what it is now but it’s not out yet and the soldiers could be here any minute.”

 

“Oh! Oh, I can help!” Willow’s face lit up and she began bouncing excitedly.

 

“What are you thinking Willow?”  Giles’ face was understandably concerned at the excitement the Witch was showing.

 

“Static electricity interrupts electronic signals. So does magic. I can do a spell to keep them from being able to trace Spike while we fix him.”

 

Spike was swearing about trusting to ‘Red and her wonky magic’ but Giles’ overrode his protests. “Very well Willow, but you best hurry.”

 

A few minutes and some seriously scary hair later and they were back to working on digging the tracer out of the now very drunk Spike. Xander stood pressed up against Spike’s side as he assisted Giles, offering whatever silent comfort he could as they worked. Finally, finally it was out and Xander was racing back to the bathroom to flush the tracer down into the sewers and away from them.

 

An hour or two later Buffy arrived at Giles’ to find Spike passed out on the couch, Xander helping Giles look through some books and Willow surfing the web on her laptop.

 

“Hey guys, what’s up? What’s fangless doing here?”

 

Xander glared at Buffy. “Your boyfriend and his gang attacked him. He came to us for help.”

 

Buffy frowned. “How do you know it was Riley, or the Initiative for that matter?”

 

“Oh I don’t know, Buffy. Probably the military issue tracer we dug out of his back.”

 

“Xander! It’s not Buffy’s fault.” Willow admonished him for his harsh tone.

 

Buffy flung herself into a chair and scowled at the unconscious Vampire. “You haven’t seen the Initiative Xander, I have. They’ve let me in, gave me a pager and everything. They’re huge and the work that they’re doing is amazing. With they’re help we won’t have to worry about demons anymore.”

 

Xander stared at Buffy. “What the hell are you thinking getting involved with them, Buff? They’re dangerous. Did you ask why they’re doing all these experiments on demons? Do you even wonder what their real plan is?”

 

“Their real plan? Come on Xander! They capture and kill demons. How bad can that be? They make my job easier and that’s all I care about.”

 

“Damn it Buffy! They capture and do experiments on demons. They figure out ways to control them! Does the idea of a government organization being able to control demons not freak you out at all?”

 

By now Spike was up and eyeing the argument with barely disguised glee. Buffy glared daggers at Spike. “Not one word out of you fangless. You haven’t been any help to us, I should just turn you back over to Riley.”

 

That was the last straw. Xander was already worried about his friend but to have Buffy threaten him completely unprovoked like that made him see red.  “You know what Buffy? Spike has been a huge help to us. He’s been here more than you have lately. But you don’t want his help and you’ve made it clear you don’t want mine. Well fine then, we’re out of here. I’m not a sheep and I refuse to just blindly follow along anymore. You trust the Initiative. I don’t. Come on Blondie, we’re out of here.” Tossing Spike his shirt and duster, Xander stalked out of the apartment, Spike following closely behind.

 

They stood in the shaded courtyard as Spike smoked and Xander tried to get his anger under control. Finally, Spike glanced up from his cigarette. “Um, Harris, not to piss you off more, but sun’s still up.”

 

Xander sighed and ran his hands over his face and through his hair. “Yeah. I brought my car today; it’s just around the corner. I’ll bring it as close as I can.”

 

Spike nodded and Xander jogged off to get his car. A few minutes later and a slightly smoking Spike was curled up in the back seat as Xander drove them through town.

 

They made it back to Xander’s place in silence and it wasn’t until they were safely behind locked doors that Spike finally asked the questions that must have been driving him crazy. “So, not that I mind you sticking up for me and all, but what was that about? Sure, Slutty’s annoying but I’m not worth pissing her off like that.”

 

Xander frowned at Spike. “Don’t say that.”

 

“Don’t say what?”

 

“That you’re not worth it. You’re my friend, probably the best friend I have right now. Of course you’re worth protecting.”

 

“Don’t need protecting.” Spike grumbled, but Xander could tell that Spike was pleased by what he had said.

 

Xander got up and wandered into the kitchen to grab a couple of beers. “I’ll make you a deal. I’ll answer this, then you answer a question for me. Truthfully.”

 

Spike took the beer from Xander and nodded. “Sure, mate.”

 

“Okay. It was about Rule Number 3.”

 

“Care to explain a little more than that?”

 

“Yeah, I’m getting there.” Xander took a deep breath. “You’ve already heard the story of my trip up until I left L.A. right?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Right. So I left L.A., not because I didn’t love Tom and Jer, I loved being there with them, but I knew it wasn’t where I was supposed to be, not forever, you know?”

 

Spike nodded.

 

“Well, I drove north after that, headed up into Oregon. I stopped in this little college town for a few days, I had been driving for days, hadn’t slept much since leaving L.A. Even though I knew that my place wasn’t there, it was still really hard to leave. Anyway, the second day I was there I was hanging out at this bar and started talking to this girl. She was different than girls in Sunnydale. Piercing, tattoos, dreadlocks, she was an activist. We talked for most of the night and it was nice to talk to someone who wanted to save the world in the non-superpowers sort of way. Anyway, she invited me back to her place and I went, I’d been with only guys for months and I wanted to see if I still liked girls too, or, well, you know.”

 

Spike nodded.

 

“So we hit it off and I stuck around for a little bit. She introduced me to her friends, I went to meetings about saving the old growth forest and the evils of World Bank.”

 

Spike snorted with laughter. “In other words you became a hippie.”

 

“Yeah.” Xander smiled. “So before I know it I’m building furniture for the commune and going to earth first meetings.” They laughed at that. “Anyway, it was a whirlwind couple of weeks and I didn’t realize what was happening because I’d just been so lost after leaving L.A. and here were these people accepting me without question. They didn’t ask too many questions about my past. They accepted that I was bisexual.”

 

At Spike’s raised eyebrow, Xander shrugged. “It’s what I was going by at the time.”

 

“They appreciated that I could help out and build things. So it shocked the hell out of me when I questioned something we were supposed to be protesting and they just turned on me. I realized then that they didn’t want a thinking person they wanted a sheep. And that was what I had been. It’s what I had been during high school, blindly following Buffy without question, and it was what I was doing then, blindly following along for any scrap of affection. So I left, and that’s how Rule Number Three came about: Think for yourself. Don’t be a sheep.”

 

Xander sat back and took a long drink, draining his beer. He held up the empty bottle to Spike, “Want another one?”

 

At Spike’s nod Xander went to the kitchen and exchanged their empties for new beers. Heading back to the couch he caught Spike looking at him speculatively. “What?”

 

“Just when I think I’ve got you figured, you pull something completely unexpected. You keep me guessing, pet.”

 

Xander flushed a little at that. “So, um. Did I answer your question well enough?”

 

“Yeah. I suppose so. So, what’s the question you want to ask me?”

 

Xander settled back onto the couch, turning so he could look into Spike’s face. “I said before that I consider you a friend, probably my best friend right now. I don’t want to lose that over something stupid. So I wanna know, what’s going on between us, with the sex?”

 

Spike laughed. “I’m not sure what you mean Xan.”

 

“Well, I’m used to sex usually leading towards a relationship of some kind. That doesn’t seem to be happening with us and I don’t want things to get awkward if we have different expectations here.”

 

Spike sighed and leaned his head back, staring up at the ceiling. “I’m not sure what to say Xander. I’m not used to having ‘friends’ minions sure, groupies, sires, but I don’t know if I’ve had a friend since I was turned. Before I was turned actually.” Spike grimaced at that. “I like what we have pet and I don’t want to screw it up either.” Spike rolled his head to the side and leered at Xander. “On the other hand, no strings attached sex is good too.”

 

Xander grinned. “I can’t argue with that.”

 

Spike sat up and turned to face him. “Look, pet, I don’t know what’s going on either. But I like you and I like having a friend. Feels nice, feels safe. I don’t have any expectations; I’m not looking for a boyfriend or nothing. Let’s just say we’re friends with benefits and leave it at that, yeah?”

 

“Friends with benefits huh? I guess I can live with that.”

 

“You’ll have to, poofter. It’s the only way you’ll ever see my sweet ass again.”

 

“Actually Spike, I don’t think I’ve ever seen your ass.”

 

“Hey! What about that little strip I did for you last time?”

 

“Um, Spike, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I was so drunk that most of that night is a complete blur. I don’t remember much at all.”

 

“Oh bloody hell!”

 

~~~

Rules of Life Part 5

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Rules of Life Part 3

 

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