A few years later, Xander is sent to find him, because they need him once more for a mission, and Spike just looks at him and blows cigarette smoke in his face. They palaver a bit in the hotel bar, and Xander says, "So men actually pay you to what--sit on their face?" Spike says, "I *can* punch you now, you know." Xander shakes his head. "I'm out of the closet and I still wouldn't fuck you on a bet, Spike."
Spike: "I *knew* it. Damn. Red owes me ten bucks."
Xander: "So come collect it."
Spike: "You don't need me."
Xander: "Right, because I would have flown three thousand miles across country on my own dime to find you if we didn't?"
Spike studies him for several moments, then says slowly, "You're lying. Angel told you I was here, didn't he? Bastard. I told him not to--" Not to *what* Spike abruptly doesn't say. "--well you can fuck off, hear?"
Xander, dropping all missionary pretext for his visit, says simply: "The girls want you home. I'm your--well, actually I'm your escort."
Spike talks about the idea of home. Sunnydale isn't home. "This is home now." Blah de blah.
Xander: "You know, I've heard that line in a hundred movies, and it never gets less lame."
Spike: "Sod off."
Xander: "Hey, I actually *paid* for this date."
Spike: "Right. So is it I sit on your face then, or you sit on mine?"
Xander: "It's more of a face-to-face thing where I talk until I wear you down and you--hey, where are you going?"
Spike says he has a room upstairs and they jaw a bit more before Xander trails after him. Upstairs they crack a bottle and each takes a drink, and Xander wanders out onto the balcony, which has an unexpectedly posh view of the city. Spike leans in the doorway and Xander turns and leans against the railing and studies him, and it's cool and night of course, and there's a high, light city breeze, with all the lights spread out below. Spike's wearing expensive black trousers and a white silk shirt unbuttoned in a way that should look sleazy but doesn't, and he's suddenly barefoot. Cuffs of the shirt rolled up. Stupid gold chain at his neck, a different one, and his hair is that kind of gold now, and Xander stares at it. He's a different Spike, with his different hair, but still the same. Souled and jaded, very old, this vampire. Lonely and difficult to figure out. Behind him Xander can see white carpet and shiny chrome furniture and big paintings on the walls, and there's also a bookshelf filled with books. Xander realizes Spike lives in this hotel room--more like an expensive apartment--the way a hermit crab inhabits some random shell it finds.
Spike's eyes are different, as if he's slowed down enough in the last few years to give things a lot of thought and ended up thinking too much. There's a lot more going on in there--Xander thinks this just for a moment, and then he looks again and it's like a trick of light, and Spike is bored and flat-eyed again, and possibly there's nothing all that meaningful or deep going on in his head, not really.
They end up talking for hours, about Sunnydale mostly, and every now and then Xander tries to wrap it up and convince him to return home and Spike digs in and refuses.
Eventually, Xander sighs and leaves, but he's back the next night, paid in full. "What are you, made of money?" Spike asks in annoyance. Xander says yep. They wander out, strolling through the city, seeing the sights, drop in at a few clubs where Spike knows everyone. Xander watches him in his element. It's effortless, but facile, empty. Spike has no friends, and a sense of the other man's utter aloneness seeps into Xander and depresses him, makes him take a few more drinks than he should.
When they get back to the hotel, Xander comes up again, comes inside and stands there, shifting his weight from foot to foot, rambling about this or that or maybe trying to make plans to bring Spike home. When he focuses, Spike is matter of factly undressing. Xander is more or less frozen, watching, asking what the hell, as Spike trails expensive clothes toward the minimalist bedroom.
When Xander gets to the bedroom, Spike is naked and expressionless and staring at him. Challenge or warning in his eyes: you're in or you're out.
Xander can't quite make himself move, but within a minute of terse conversation, Spike is standing by him, unbuttoning his shirt, undoing his belt, and Xander is wanting it--if only for the novelty, he tells himself. Vampire. Spike.
Xander: "I never had a thing for you. Just so we're clear."
Spike: "I know."
Xander: "You were annoying, and when you were at your most evil, I hated you."
Spike, looking at him with cool, unreadable face: "You hated me when I was at my most human too."
They're soon kissing, tongues untied, and Xander's got his arms around Spike, and Spike's hair is soft now, filling Xander's palm along the hard curve of the skull. And when they fuck, it's not bad. It's not earth-shattering true-love sex. At first it's the kind of sex you get when you're paying good money for it, and Spike is closed-off, clearly unwilling to show any vulnerability even when Xander blows him and kisses him. But after a while he's getting into it, there's more friction and breathing and a frantic, hungrier need building, and when Xander fucks him, Spike works his hips and takes it so prettily that Xander nearly loses it, and he gets why men shell out serious money for this, and he thinks he could get used to it.
But it's just one of those high-pitched orgasm thoughts. Afterwards, everything is tense and unfun again, and the idea of sex and money and Spike is unsettling and kind of sad.
"Come home," Xander says.
"Hellmouth doesn't exactly support the lifestyle to which I've grown accustomed, mate."
Xander: "You can stay with me."
Spike: "That right?"
Xander: "Not like that."
Spike: "No? Fuck off then. Why should I drag my ass all the way back to Sunnyhell--so I can fight big nasties for you? Pick your pockets for blood money, nick fags from the Super-Mart? Fuck you."
They fight with rough, angry words, Spike getting ever more cutting, until Xander rather wants to punch him, but he balls up his fist and grips his temper tightly instead.
He leaves. And comes back the next night. Spike is sick of seeing him, or is pretending to be. He flings a few mean, angry jibes at Xander, who after taking it for a bit, hands Spike a check. "What's this?" Spike asks. Xander says it's an advance for the first month of his services. "I need you to house sit," he says blandly, with a facade of suavity and calm. "During the day. When I'm not there."
Spike tears it up into little pieces, staring at him coldly all the while, flings them at Xander's feet in fluttering bits, then goes upstairs. A few minutes later, Xander is knocking.
Palaver follows where Spike informs Xander that he's called his manager at the agency and said he doesn't want any repeat visits. Xander says he's paid up for the night. They sit in silence for a while, Spike fuming, Xander trying to figure out what will convince Spike to come back. He asks the question outright: "What can I do--there must be something that'll convince you to come back."
Derision. "Why, because I'm so soft on you lot that I can't live another day without seeing your shining, happy faces?"
Xander: "Look, I know you could stay here. We both know that. You're doing good for yourself." A pause as they both contemplate this, trying to decide if it's the truth or a lie. "But Dawn misses you, and there's monsters to kill, and I'd like to come home once in a while to someone else's mess, not just my own."
Spike: "So get a cat."
Xander: "Got one. He gets bored too."
Spike, patience thin over impatience: "So get a bloke. You're not altogether monstrously unshaggable. Don't need me pissing away the hours on retainer, watching Oprah and drinking up your beer."
Xander: "Yeah, but...you're dependable. On the beer-drinking thing. And...other things." Spike gives him a dry look, but Xander has a sense that he's dragged Spike to the brink, that Spike might be teetering somewhere inside, contemplating the jump, and there are words he should say at this point, persuasive words, nice words, but--
Xander: "Have you *really* developed a sense of pride? Because I have to say, it's pretty poorly timed." Another pause. "I'll pay more."
Spike blinks, and they stare at each other for several moments, and then: "How much more?" The merest hint of a smile.
And Xander dips his head just a little with a sense of relief, hair falling into his dark eyes, and he can smile without hiding it. "Everything you're worth."