Xander was trying to be quiet about it. Really, truly he was. Except this thing underneath his right shoulder blade wasn't going away. Moving it was becoming a problem, and lifting already was. The rest of his back was starting to tighten up, too, and pretty soon he was going to have to waste good money.

Placing the cup down in the sink, Xander felt something spasm in his neck. Shit. Looked like it ‘pretty soon' was now.

"Hey, where'd we put the important medical numbers?"

"Second drawer on the right."


Xander got out the thick sheaf of papers and started flipping. Doctor, doctor, doctor, eye doctor, gastro, gynecologist, dentist, podiatrist. . . Okay, no back doctors. Maybe a chiropractor? Something. Anything. The ice he'd surreptitiously put on a few hours ago was wearing off and he hated taking painkillers—they always made him feel fuzzy and fuzzy was bad.

"What are you doing?" How did Spike always look so sinfully sexy, even when clad in t-shirt and jeans, lounging up against the door in a manner in now way supposed to be sexy. But it was. Sexy.

"Eh, just a check up. I'm due. Haven't been to one since my pediatrician, and, well, usually we just show up at the hospital, injured."

Bad joke, and he knew it when Spike's eyes flashed darker. "Put the book down, love."

"Nah, I'll figure it out. Just gimme a minute." Inwardly, Xander was praying that Spike would buy the check-up story. His vampire could be insanely overprotective sometimes.

"Xander. Put the book down."

Voice like chocolate, stroking his body without a single touch, and Xander could never resist that voice. The one that wasn't trying to be sexy or playful or any of the other things Spike sounded like when he was being intentionally being sexy. Just slightly exasperated and tolerantly amused. It got to Xander every time.

Xander put the book down.

"C'mere." Xander followed Spike into the bedroom, unprotesting when he was pushed onto the mattress. His shirt was carefully removed, Spike solicitous of his right side, which meant he hadn't hid it as well as he wanted and wait a minute, why wasn't Spike freaking out about this? But then he was face down on the bed and Spike was settling on his thighs and —ohgodyeahplease.

Cool hands pressing right over the spot that hurt, kneading gently and he gasped when the pressure just got a little too much. "Shhh, love," Spike crooned as he worked. "Don't fret, now. Saw you holding your arm funny, figured what'd happened." One hand moved up to press very gently on the muscles on either side of his neck, in what was almost a choking hold. Except you couldn't choke from the back. And besides, it felt so good, what he was doing. "Hurt here, pet? Feels like it. Rock hard an' not in the good way. Lemme work, Xan. Lemme get you all nice an' relaxed, just putty in my hands, aren't you? Been workin' hard on this project, yeah? Haven't been sleepin' as good at night, won't let me hold you much. But I'm here now, an' I'm not letting you do that again. Gonna take good care of my boy, now. Shhhhh."

The soft words in that slow, hypnotic rhythm made Xander feel sleepy in the best way. The burning fire of his neck was diminishing and his arm felt like it might function. But he didn't say anything, mind and body limp with relief. Spike kept speaking as he worked, slipping occasionally into a soft, crooning hum, hands rubbing up and down his back, hitting every single place that hurt and easing it.

"Mm, that's it, lovely boy. All wrung out and limp. Now you just sleep a bit, yeah? Don't move, let yourself heal."


Spike slid off, but didn't get back on again. That roused Xander from his stupor, enough to lift his head a little. "Hey."

"Here, now, don't undo what I've done." Spike hovered by his head, pushing it back down and running the heel of both hands over the sore muscles.


"What's that?"


"Fay? You've got blanket in your mouth, pet. No, you just sleep a bit, I'm gonna go read."

Grumbling, Xander moved his left arm up to grab on to Spike and tug lightly. "Fay. Bleese."

A long pause. "Promise not to move?"

Xander put his arm down exactly where it'd been.

Spike chuckled and carefully slid himself half on top of Xander before pulling the covers over both of them. "Uv oo."

Soft lips against the back of his head. "Love you to, Xan."