Day 11

Title: Day 11
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Buffyverse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Spike/Xander
Disclaimer: Not my characters. I wish they were mine. I definitely don’t get paid for this.
Summary: Spike doesn't want Xander to know he's sick. That's tough when Xander's lying in bed beside him.
Notes: Written during my 12 Ficlets in 12 Days in 2015 project for silverelf

As if Willow had cast a slow-motion spell on him, Spike moved off the bed so as not to disturb the still sleeping Xander Haris. He walked silently through their hotel room, avoiding the things littering the floor that they'd dropped after their hunt last night, too exhausted to pack them away properly before crashing in bed. He stepped over a knife wrapped in a hotel towel that they were going to have to steal rather than try to explain the blood stains. He walked around the case of magical items they took with them around the world when hunting monsters, because you never knew when you were going to actually need St. George's dragon box or some extra vamp-slaying stakes. Spike kept his hand clamped over his nose and mouth the whole time, worried that the sneeze he felt coming on would strike at any moment and destroy what little chance he had of getting to the bathroom without waking his boyfriend.

Boyfriend. Ha. Xander wasn't the first man he'd ever had sex with or even the first he'd ever fallen in love with. But he was technically the first person he'd ever used that term to describe. And this all still felt so new. They were still feeling each other out, still figuring out how the “we” thing worked for them. So far, it had worked well enough to keep it going.

Reaching the bathroom at last, Spike quickly entered and shut the door with the quietest of clicks before flipping on the light. He and Xander were still in that part of the relationship where everything was new and happy, where everything could be worked out over a good roll in the sheets. Spike didn't want to do anything to ruin what they had right now; he knew a thing or three about ruining a good thing.

The problem was, his body didn't seem entirely on board with that plan. He'd woken up yesterday with a spectacular sore throat. Drinking water had somehow simultaneously made it both better and worse. The cool water on the top of his mouth and back of his throat felt nice, but the pain he felt when he swallowed was excruciating. There was really no question about it at that point: he was getting ill.

Ever since that the conclusion of that big battle outside Wolfram and Hart when the Shanshu Prophecy had been split between the two world-saving vampires with souls, Spike had been learning both the good and the bad about being half-mortal. Taking a walk in the sunlight, being able touch anything in a church without being burned, feeling a heart beating in his chest—faint but there—where all wonderful. But less-so was the fatigue, the lack of heightened vampire senses and strength, and the pains and bothers that came with humanity. He could no longer go days without eating. For that matter, he couldn't go days without drinking blood either. And if he didn't, he caught colds. Wretched, annoying, debilitating head colds that had him burrowing under blankets and sneezing his head off until they were over.

He could tell one was coming on, just by the sore throat. So he had done the only thing he could think of to do: he drank all the blood he'd been keeping in the hotel mini-fridge. It had been work to keep it down; his body needed it, sure, but his mind still told him it was wrong and disgusting. His stomach had churned and he had nearly lost the lot of it. But he'd kept it down in the end. And it was supposed to have helped drive this human ailment right out of his system. All day, whenever he had felt the need to cough or when his nose ran and he had to wipe it on his sleeve, rubbing his nose until the tickle in it went away, he had told himself the blood would kick in soon and he'd start feeling better.

Because he didn't want Xander to know he was sick. Nothing could ruin a brand new relationship like an uncontrollable sneezing fit. Spike was sexy. He was all about being sexy. The jacket. The hair. The accent. The attitude. Everything was sexy. And having a sniffly, runny nose when you were trying to snog your lover under the mistletoe was the very definition of not sexy.

And he'd thought the blood would take care of everything, drive the cold right out of him so that they could handle the Skagard demon they were in town to stop. But, as it turned out, he felt even worse this morning than he had on the one before. It wasn't just the sore throat. Now there was a pounding headache and aches in his bones and an overall ick feeling. Oh, and there was the stuffed-up head and tickling nose. Spike pulled tissue after tissue out of the box and pressed the whole handful of them to his face to muffle the sound. “ahh...” He drew a breath and tried to fight it. He was not going to sneeze. He was not going to sneeze. He was not “KTChhhffffff!” Oh, bloody hell. “ahhh-KDichhfffffff! ah... ah... AhhhKSchuffffffff!

Though not what it used to be, Spike's hearing was still better than a regular human's. He strained, listening, but he couldn't hear any movement from the bedroom. Xander was still fast asleep. Good. At least something was going right. Not a hell of a lot ever went right at four in the morning. That was especially true when you were trying to fight off a miserable head cold.

Spike pried the tissue box out of the holder attached to the counter and hugged it to his chest as he leaned against a wall and slumped to the floor of the bathroom. It was cold down there, so he pulled one of the fluffy white towels out from under the sink and stuffed it under his butt. He considered wrapping another one around his shoulders, but he knew it wouldn't stay put for long, not with his sneezing. “hahh... ahhhh... ahhhhhhhh-Ahtchhhffff! Ahh-KIHTchhffffff! ahhh... ahhhh... ahhh-Hahhkdshhfffffff!” Spike folded the tissue around his nose, wiping with one hand. Then he bunched the tissues around his nose again and blew softly, quietly. He sounded horrible. He felt horrible.

And not just because of this cold. They were supposed to get on a plane home today. They were supposed to be back in Scotland by dinnertime to celebrate Christmas with the other Scoobies. For the past two weeks, through all the trips and fights and meals and hunts, Xander had been talking about nothing but seeing Willow and Giles and Buffy and Dawn and even Andrew again and all in one place. They had a whole suitcase packed with gifts they'd picked up on their travels. They were hoping those would lessen the blow when they told everyone they were an item now.

Now that perfect reunion was going to be ruined one way or another. Either Spike was going to be too ill to have Christmas Eve dinner with the group or, worse, too congested to even get on the plane n the first place. He'd stay here in South Africa while his boyfriend—there was that term again—flew home to have Christmas fun without him. “ahhh-hahKitchhhffffff!” Getting to Scotland didn't seem likely considering he wasn't sure how to leave the bathroom without Xander hearing him. Or worrying. Or getting angry with him for letting this happen again. Or fussing over him too much.

Spike was pretty sure that would be the worst, even worse than Xander abandoning him for the holidays. Spike had been a vampire, one of the scariest out there; he had killed two slayers. And when he'd been chipped, he'd wanted to die of the shame. Spending weeks tied up every night in Xander's basement, not being able to bite anyone without pain, and seeing the pity in everyone's eyes had been so terrible he had wanted to die. Seeing Xander's frown or his frustration when he realized Spike was ill would just about kill him all over again.

ahh... Ahh-ahh... ahhhhKehtchhfffffffff! Khufshihfffffff!” The only way out of this was to get rid of this cold. Maybe if he got all of his sneezes out now, before Xander woke up, then he'd be all right by the time their cab was to come pick them up at the hotel to drive them to the airport.

Spike hauled himself up and dropped the used tissues into the tiny trash can. He pulled more tissues out of the box and folded them in half to make them thicker. He rubbed the edges against the bottom of his nose, tickling his nostrils. They flared violently for just a moment before he buried them in the wad of tissues. “ahh ahh ah ah AH AH-AHHHH-KTSchhhmffff! Ah-Chufffffff! AhhhKuhtshffffffffff! Ahh... ahh ahhhh...” As another sneeze struck, Spike pulled more tissues out of the box. “ahh... ahhhhh... ah...” He would have to make a quick switch. “ahhh... ahhh-Hihtchhhffffff! Hah-Kihtchhhhfffff!” He held onto the edge of the bathroom sink, steadying himself. He was starting to feel light-headed. “ahh ahhhKEHtchhhfff! AhhhKdshhhffffff! Kahchuhfffff! Ahhhh-HAHKTShhhhhhffffff!” He snapped forward at that last one, which was unusually strong, and he smacked his forehead against the bathroom mirror.

Spike smothered his surprised yelp of pain in his handful of tissues and sneezed again. “ahh-Kuhds hhhhhhhh! ahhh-hah... hushhhhfffffff!

“Bless you, baby.”

Spike whirled around to see Xander in the doorway, wearing his eye patch like he did when he was too tired to put in his glass eye. Spike had thought he'd been able to keep quiet enough. Damn it!

“Looks like someone's catching a cold,” Xander said in an almost sing-songy voice. “Grab the tissue box and come back to bed with me.”

Not budging, Spike rubbed at his nose. “Xadder...” His nose was so stuffed up already, and his cheeks flushed to hear it.

“Hey, we all get sick sometimes, even half-human-half-vamps apparently. I wonder if Angel catches cold as easily as you do.” Xander stepped forward and pressed a kiss to Spike's cheek. “In any case, it's the middle of the night. I don't want you lurking in a cold bathroom all alone when you could be nestled in a warm bed with your boyfriend.” This time when Xander said it, it didn't sound strange at all to Spike's ears. Xander took his hand and gave a little tug. But Spike still didn't move. “Come on. This isn't the way you want to start your first Christmas Eve day since becoming partly human, is it?”

“But...” Spike gripped the counter. “I'b ill. You'll catch this cold frob be. Add you wod't get back hobe id tibe for Christbas.”

Xander looked confused. “So?” He stepped forward and placed a soft kiss on Spike's lips. “We'll make our own Christmas here. And it'll be special because we'll be together.”

Spike looked shocked. This was unexpected to say the least. And it was strange. Xander was a good guy, that was one of the reason Spike had been drawn to him. But this was beyond sweet. Something was wrong here. Not even a single regret about missing his friends? “Xad... what's wrong?”

Xander shifted his weight from one foot to the other then back again. “I'll tell you once we're back in bed together, okay?”

Fear filled Spike, stabbing him right in the heart. His blood went cold as he shuddered. “Xad, what habbed to Buffy?”

“She's all right,” Xander said, quickly. “She's a slayer, you know?”

Oh, Spike knew all about slayers. He knew how tough they were. He knew how hearty and skilled they were. But he also knew that he'd taken down two of them. All it took was some stupid demon or vamp to get lucky. “Tell be,” Spike demanded, frozen in place until he heard the explanation.

Xander gestured back at the bedroom. “I just got a call from Dawnie. She and Buffy are going to be spending Christmas in Italy.”

Spike's eyes were wide now. “But what habbed to... to Buf... Buffff... ah...” He pulled away, eyes fluttering closed, nose twitching. “ahhhhhhh-HaahhKTschhhooo!” he sneezed, forgetting entirely about the tissues and forgetting to hold onto the bathroom counter. He swayed in place, dizzy.

“Bless you. Come back to bed, Spike.” Xander put an arm around him to keep him safe, or perhaps to encourage him in the direction of the bedroom.

But Spike shook his head. “Doe! What habbeded? Tell be. If the Ibbortal hurt her...”

Hurt flashed in Xander's eyes and he tensed, though, to his credit, he kept his arm around Spike, supporting him. Immediately, Spike knew he had done wrong. They'd just gone from a potentially wonderful Christmas together to the way it used to be, all those years ago in Sunnydale when Spike had lusted after Buffy. They'd had this discussion before, plenty of times, and Spike had insisted during every one of those discussions that what he and Buffy had had was over and that what he and Xander had was exactly what he wanted. But sometimes Xander still had trouble imagining that Spike's lusting was entirely over.

“She broke her back fighting some demons,” Xander finally answered. “One of the other slayers was apparently killed in the fight, so Buffy got off lucky.”

It didn't seem too lucky to Spike. It would take some time to heal from such an extensive injury, even for a slayer. Getting on a plane like that was out of the question. “At least she's got Lil' Bit with her.”

“Just like you've got me with you.” Xander gave him a smile that was supposed to be reassuring but looked a little more on the desperate side. ”Right?”And when he spoke, it sounded like he was trying hard to keep Spike. “I'll go get you whatever you need, I'll wait on you hand and foot.”

Not wanting to enter into another argument now of all times, Spike nodded. “But what I wadt dow is for you to have a good Christbas. Ahhh... ahhh Hahkschhhhhhhhh! Sniff! Add baybe sub bore tissues?”

“Do you have enough until morning?” Xander asked, leaning to the side, trying to get a look at the box. 

Now that he wouldn't be trying to hide and muffle his sneezes, he could use a normal amount of tissues. He could make these last, so he nodded.

“Good. In the morning, I'll go out and get you more. And I'll make some phone calls to let everyone know we're not coming and to change our flight. I'll...” Xander paused to yawn powerfully.

Spike didn't give him a chance to continue. “Let's go to bed,” said Spike. He couldn't do anything to change this situation, but he could get Xander some more sleep. And after the long day they'd had stopping that demon, Xander needed his sleep.

Xander nodded, grabbed the tissue box, and led the way back to bed. He lifted the covers for Spike then climbed in after him. As Spike's head hit the pillow, he had a hard time trying to remember why he left. He'd been trying to be nice, to let Xander sleep. And he'd been trying to avoid a lecture once Xander realized this cold probably had something to do with Spike not drinking blood the way he was supposed to. But he hadn't gotten a lecture; Xander hadn't even mentioned the blood. Xander had just been sympathetic and reassuring, and now here he was, curling himself against Spike. The feel of his stubble-covered chin against the back of Spike's neck. The feel of his strong hand on Spike's shoulder. The feel of his warm breaths whispering against the ends of Spike's bleached hair. Spike hadn't felt so loved and comforted in a long time.

As Xander hugged Spike to his chest, Spike hugged the tissue box to his chest. The sheet and blankets were pulled tight around them, tucked under their chins. The room was quiet—not quite as quiet as it was back in the castle in Scotland, but certainly the Cape Town traffic in the middle of the night was nothing like Times Square in New York City or Tokyo City in Japan.  Spike hated to disturb it, but he couldn't help it. “Xadder?”

“Mmm?” Xander sounded halfway asleep already, maybe even further than that.

“I... ahhh I'b so sorry. I have—ahhh! Ahhhh! Have to sdeeze.”

Xander's hand slid down Spike's arm then to his chest. Xander pet his chest softly. “Of course you do. You've got a cold. You don't have to keep telling me or warning me. It doesn't matter how much you cough or sneeze, I'm not going anywhere.”

Overwhelmed by sentiment, Spike wished he could say something or at least turn his head and kiss Xander for that. But that would mean sneezing on his boyfriend, and that wasn't acceptable. “ahh... ahhhHitchhhhhhhh! HahKdtchhhoo!” Spike blew his nose miserably.

Xander held him close. “Bless you, baby.” He patted Spike's chest. “You're getting better at blowing. Remember that first cold you caught after becoming half-human? You had no idea what to do with a Kleenex.” Of course Spike remembered. It was before he had admitted he had feelings for Xander, before he had kissed Xander, before he had even made a move. But Xander had still held tissue after tissue at his nose to teach him how to deal with a leaking, sniffly, sneezy nose. Xander had been so kind. Okay, maybe there had been a little bit of teasing, but Spike had liked that too.

And, hell, Spike couldn't resist asking just one more thing of him. “Would you rub by dose for be like you did that tibe?” He expected Xander to be a little repulsed or even too tired to agree.

Instead, Xander chuckled, his chest shaking against Spike's back. “Okay. Let me get a tissue.” He reached down, feeling around for the box. Once he had one in hand, he had to shift a bit, but managed to find Spike's nose with it. He wiped a few times, folding the tissue around his nose for one strong rub to finish it off. “Are you going to do this for me if I catch this cold from you?”

Spike hadn't considered that. “Do you wadt be to?”

“Maybe,” Xander breathed warmly on the back of Spike's neck, following it up with a soft kiss. “Maybe you'll surprise me by doing it when I least expect it.” He wiped at Spike's nose again. “That's the sort of thing boyfriends can do when they're stuck in a hotel room on the wrong continent for Christmas, right?”

And this time, the word boyfriend didn't sound so strange to Spike. Maybe the trick was hearing it when your boyfriend was wrapped around you, kissing you, taking care of you. “Right,” Spike agreed.

“Good. Now get some sleep. And don't you dare sneak off to the bathroom again unless it's to pee. I want you warm and toasty under the covers with me the rest of the night and all day tomorrow, too, if we can manage it. Mmm. How's a big breakfast in bed sound? On the Watcher Council's dime, of course.”

Spike laughed, coughed, sniffled, and yawned all in that order. He closed his eyes and Xander's thumb stroked his cheek. He'd wait until morning to tell Xander he was out of blood. No need to ruin the moment or his track record tonight with the possibility of another fight. And something told him that pig's blood wasn't on the room service menu.