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"Son of a bloody..."

Xander woke with a jump at the loud curse not five feet away from him.


He couldn't help but smile at seeing Spike looking and sounding almost like his usual self, but, as he woke fully, he remembered that Spike was far from healed.

"How are you feeling, blondie?" he asked, hoping a light-hearted tone would keep the mood light too. A grumpy vampire, a grumpy Spike particularly, was not good.

"Like I've been sliced and diced six ways to Sunday, whelp." Spike replied, with almost jovial return use of the boy's long-term nickname. "What the bloody hell happened to me?" He pushed back the blanket and peered down at his body, noticing the unhealed markings, and winced as fragments of memories returned. "Ah."

"Yeah." Xander nodded, seeing recognition and recollection flit across Spike's features which shifted momentarily before resting on human again. "Ah, indeed."

"You remember much?" he asked tentatively, walking to the kitchen to heat up a mug of blood for the vampire.

"Enough." Spike didn't remember everything. He didn't remember getting home. He remembered being ambushed, waking up restrained, being cut. "Hurt like a bitch. That much I do remember. Still bloody does actually."

"That'll be the Garchen's knife." Xander re-entered the living area and passed the mug to Spike, who took it with a nod and drained it hungrily before holding it out again with another nod. Xander chuckled and fetched another, along with a fresh coffee for himself.

"It's a cursed knife, designed to inflict unhealing injuries on demons." Xander explained, sitting at the other end of the sofa to where Spike was now upright. "We are hoping that Willow might be able to reverse or lift the curse."

"Bloody curses." Spike dropped the second empty mug onto the side table. "Thought they were the poof's thing."

Spike cast his eyes across to his grand-sire, laid on the second sofa, still deep in sleep.

"He OK?"

Xander swallowed hard before responding, unsure exactly what to say.

"He's in a bad way. His injuries from the Garchen's knife were more erratic, aimed to kill... they've done a lot of damage... he hasn't woken yet."

Spike leaned forwards, his face serious.

"He was injured too?"

Xander nodded.

"How long's he been like this?" Spike tipped his head to the still-sleeping form.

Xander glanced at his watch, willing his brain to make a quick mental calculation.

"7 or 8 hours, maybe?" he replied, silently cursing himself as he realised he must have fallen asleep on the armchair for at least an hour.

Spike pushed himself up in an attempt to stand, only to come back down hard on the sofa again, cursing.

"Fuck!" he exclaimed loudly, cautiously laying against the sofa's back, his arms wrapped around his torso.

"You're not in good shape either!" Xander sidled up alongside Spike, placing an arm around his back. "Let me." He had expected that Spike would want to check Angel over for himself.

Spike let the young man aid him into a standing position and leant on him as he crossed the short distance to his grand-sire. Xander lowered Spike into a kneel and backed away, not wanting to intrude.

"He's... he doesn't look good, does he?" Spike confirmed what Xander had been thinking, as he pulled back the blankets to assess the older vamp's injuries. "When'd he last feed?"

Xander shook his head.

"Not sure. 'Bout 18 hours ago was the last time I saw him. Just after I got here." Realisation that so much had happened in such a short space of time hit Xander hard. Only 18 hours.

"He needs blood. But we really shouldn't wake him..." Spike frowned and let out a long sigh.

Xander watched a thousand conflicting thoughts rush through Spike's mind. Wake or not? Feed or not?

"How long 'til Red gets here?"

Spike replaced the blanket and lowered himself carefully back on his heels..

Xander groaned as he made yet more mental calculations. Thank god for AI coffee.

"It's 1pm now, so 5am in Scotland. In an hour, maybe?" He figured that 6am wasn't unreasonable, given the current situation they were in. "Should we feed Angel then? I wasn't sure. I mean, when I sat down this morning, I wasn't sure if he needed blood... or whether I should wake him to help feed him... I didn't know.. I mean, you always said not to wake a healing vampire, right?"

Spike raised a hand to silence the jabbering young man.

"I don't think we could wake him even if we wanted to." he finally responded gravely. "He's too deep to feed like that. Maybe direct from a source..." Spike trailed off, aware of Xander's impulse reaction to raise his hand to his neck protectively.

"Not that kind of source, whelp." he reassured the panicked young man. "Something fresh from my arm should do it."

Spike reached across to lift Angel's sleeping form into a more upright position. Xander rushed over to help.

"You're not seriously suggesting that he feeds from YOU, Spike?" Xander's voice raised, filled with disbelief at what the blond vampire was suggesting. He was barely fed himself and certainly in no fit state to be donating any.

As Xander helped Spike settle Angel in a position where he was more seated than laid down, he grabbed Spike's arm, stilling it with his own firm grip.

"Don't." Xander commanded him, pulling the vampire's arm away from Angel. "Please."

"He needs something, Xan." Spike's voice was small, almost desperate. "Look at him."

"I know, Spike." Xander began rolling up his own sweatshirt sleeve. "I know."

"Xan?" Spike's tone had a hint of 'what are you thinking?' about it.

"Let me do this, Spike, please. You can keep an eye on us, make sure he doesn't take too much... but you're in no state to give up your own blood right now."

Spike looked into Xander's eyes. The boy was serious. He was actually offering his own blood to Angel, to help Spike. He studied Xander closely, checking for signs of hesitation and doubt but finding only concern and stubborn determination. It was quite incredible.

Spike nodded slowly, taking hold of Xander's arm and carefully lifting it to his mouth, not breaking contact with Xander's deep brown eyes.

"I need to open the vein first, OK?" he explained quietly, as if talking to a timid animal, "Angel can't open it himself in this state, but his demon will get the scent when the fresh blood gets close."

"OK." Xander chewed on his bottom lip anxiously, as he watched Spike's face shift. He looked much less frightening that Xander might have imagined as Spike lowered his face to Xander's wrist and carefully slipped his fangs into the soft flesh. He had expected pain, he was braced for it, but none came. It was almost... sensual.

Spike groaned, his eyes flickering closed as he briefly lost himself in the glorious, long-forgotten sensations of warm blood from the source. Seconds later, gold eyes snapped open and morphed back to blue as Spike released Xander and lifted the boy's arm towards Angel.

Despite being in deep slumber Angel's demon rose and latched onto the arm, much less gently than Spike had, and for a moment, Xander felt panic rise within him.

"Spike?" he asked nervously, only just resisting the urge to pull his arm back to himself.

"It's OK, Xan. He can't control the demon while he is sleeping, but I can. He can't fight either in this condition." Spike's grip tightened reassuringly around his arm, and Xander found himself calmer for it. He watched Spike watch his grand-sire with an anxiety that was very familiar to him. He had felt it himself only hours before as he watched the two vampires sleep.

Spike began stroking hypnotically on Xander's arm, soothing away any lingering fear and panic. A minute later, Spike somehow, and without too much discomfort broke the arm free from Angel's demon's hold, and they both watched the demon recede back to its healing slumber.

As Xander went to withdraw his arm from Spike's grip, Spike kept hold.

"Let me close it first." he said, pulling the wrist towards him and licking gently along the puncture holes, letting his vampire saliva do its job of healing the wounds.

Xander shuddered as the strange sensations washed over him. It was a warm, fuzzy feeling. Calming. Smooth.

He yawned loudly, suddenly realising that he was beat.

"It'll do that to ya." Spike explained matter-of-factly. "Get me back up onto the sofa, will ya? We could both do with a kip now."

Xander forced himself to stand and, carefully taking hold of Spike, moved them both back onto the other sofa, where he sat alongside the blond vampire, letting out another long yawn.

As Spike settled himself back for a short snooze, Xander's head fell onto his shoulder and in very few minutes, both were sound asleep.