Xander was wobbling on his feet, but he didn't dare fall. Not because Spike would be angry, because Spike would be angrier. So, he clenched his fists and clenched his teeth and stood, trying not to think about the bruised ribs and the lump on his head and the part of his brain that was telling him that his wrist was pretty close to broken. He ignored the sizzling line of pain across his chest from the demon's claws and the stinging sensation from the place on his shoulder where its shark-like hide had scrubbed away a few layers of skin. Xander held his ground and listened to Spike rant.
"What the hell were you thinking, Xander? That was a bloody Axenarthene! You're just damned lucky it didn't bite you - fuckin' things are poisonous. Doesn't that triple-damned Watcher tell you morons anything about the beasties you're going up against?" He spun, pacing and smoking, and Xander had to look away, because the movement was making him dizzy - dizzier. "It could have had you in a second," Spike said, gesturing angrily with his cigarette. "One scrape from one tooth and you'd have been writhing on the ground with your blood turning to acid and your skin melting and your eyeballs turning to soup! What the bloody hell is wrong with you, Xander?"
"I'm...sorry," Xander's voice came out low, almost a sob. He didn't know what else to say. The Axiswhatever had been trying to eat Willow, and she hadn't been able to get a spell going in time and there was no way Xander was going to stand aside and let his oldest friend be turned into snack food, no matter how pissed it would make Spike. And it had. Made Spike pissed. Very pissed. Xander looked into Spike's very pissed-off face and was happy to see the narrowing of his field of vision that accompanied passing out. Problem solved.
When he woke, he was in his own bed, snuggled down into his own pillows and blankets, with his own vampire sitting in a chair by the bedside. Brooding. Xander's mouth was dry, and he turned to look at the bed table. Spike saw him and picked up the glass of water there, angling the straw so that Xander could drink. After half the glass was gone, Xander leaned back and cleared his throat.
"No," Spike said. "Don't speak." His voice was quiet, but steely, and Xander knew better than to disobey. Way better. He nodded instead.
Spike moved to sit on the bed at Xander's side and started running a single cool finger across the injury sites, now neatly bandaged. He ran the finger through Xander's hair to lightly caress the lump on his head.
"This head is mine," he said, eyes tracking his finger as it moved through the mink-brown strands. "It's pretty thick, but it's mine. I like it the way I found it - no bumps or bruises, no shiners or bloody noses, no bruises on the jaw or cuts or scars. It's beautiful, and it's mine."
Xander took in a shaky breath and let it out, then nodded.
"That's right," Spike said, moving his hand to Xander's chest. He traced the bandage that covered the cut and lightly swept over taped ribs. "This chest is mine," he said, his voice still commanding and detached. "The skin and the muscles, the hair and the bone - all mine. If it's to be marked, I will make the mark; if it's to be bruised, the bruises will be from my lips, scratches from my hands. It's mine."
Xander nodded again, remembering exactly how much he loved the marks made by Spike's evil, passionate mouth.
Spike's hand moved to his shoulder, over the bandaged abrasion, and then down to his splinted wrist. "My arms, and my hands," Spike said, still not looking at Xander's face. "These arms are strong, and they do what I tell them. They hold me at night and they wrap around me, or they get tied to the headboard or stretched out in front of me. These fingers touch where I tell them to, and they wait when I tell them to. They twine with my fingers and touch me. They move inside me. They're mine."
Spike's hands swept over Xander's hips and thighs, rougher on the uninjured areas, making Xander shake and squirm. "This body is mine," Spike said. "This brain, this heart, this soul - all mine." Xander listened as Spike pulled in an unnecessary breath, letting it out slowly. "I know, Xander," he said. "I know that you love your friends and you want to help and you can't just stand back. I get that, but it scares the hell out of me." Spike's hand swept up to rest over Xander's thudding heart, then inched up to his neck and stroked there, over the pulse point.
"You can, you know," Xander said, speaking for the first time.
"Can what?" Spike asked, frowning.
"If I ever get hurt and there's...there's no other way, you can turn me." Xander curled his unhurt hand over Spike's fingers. "I've already talked to Willow about it, and she's working on a spell that doesn't have the happiness clause."
"You...I...but," Spike stammered, staring at Xander in surprise.
"Even if I don't get hurt, I want you to do it. Not now, though." Xander kept his voice quiet, and he stroked Spike's fingers with his own.
"When?" Spike said, his voice almost a gasp.
"I figure right before I start looking older than you," Xander said. "Don't want people seeing us together and thinking I'm some sort of cradle robber." Spike didn't respond to the joke, and Xander could see the emotions playing across his face. He raised his hand to the back of Spike's head and cradled the nape of his neck, where the hair curled gently.
"I'm yours, Spike," Xander said. "Forever."
"Mine?" Spike asked, voice trembling.
"Yours," Xander replied. He pulled Spike down, and he wasn't all that surprised when the face that came to rest gently on the uninjured side of his chest was wet.