Fandom: Pairing: Buffy: Spike/Xander
Concrit: Please. If you spot a typo or a grammar glitch, feel free to tell me in comments.
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Summary: Xander gets lost. A lot. A solution, of sorts, is found.
Notes: Written for spring_with_xan, this ficlet exists as part of the established relationship Protected!verse (see post tags for previous ficlets), in which Spike and Xander decided they wanted eternity without risking Xander's soul and self by turning him into a vampire. Instead, they have bought, procured and earned various spells and markings that Xander now wears, protecting him from a variety of dangers and possibilities. Can be read as a standalone.
Xander's never really had a sense of direction. He's a SoCal boy after all, brought up surrounded by street signs and tourist maps and fast food outlet locator flyers.
He's never had to navigate by the stars or by reading the moss on the trunks of trees. He's never used the shadow of a stick to divine true north; he wouldn't know how.
It's not until he's wandering the streets of Seoul, bewildered and bedazzled and totally lost, that he realises just how vulnerable he is when he steps out of his known world.
It only takes one phone call to Spike to get him back on track, and he's back in their hotel suite soon enough, digging out their wish list to scribble a reminder at the bottom.
"What's put a bee in your bonnet now, love? You're not thinking of trying to find some kind of Babelfish Stargate translator spell, are you? I can't imagine they'd work on street signs even if you found one, always assuming we could afford to get it done."
"Nope," Xander replies, "but it's worth thinking about." He quickly scribbles 'Babelfish/Stargate transl.' underneath his previous note and tosses the list onto the pillow beside him as he sprawls back on the bed.
"So what was your latest bright idea?" Spike asks, crossing the room to pick up the crumpled list when Xander doesn't immediately answer. "'Stop me getting lost'? That's a pretty tall order. Got any thoughts on how we could make that work?"
Xander shrugs. "Some kind of inner GPS maybe? I could probably memorise a star chart, but what's the point with all the light pollution out there? If I can't see them, they're not going to be any help."
"I'm not sure I'd trust your memory to keep all those little twinkles straight anyway, Xan." Spike easily avoids the half-hearted swat Xander aims at his hip, and continues thinking aloud. "Getting you set so you can find true north without props might be easiest, but that doesn't help if you don't know which way to go, and you're completely bloody useless without a map."
Spike lets Xander wrestle him down to the bed, putting up just enough resistance to make it interesting, mumbling his final words into Xander's neck before they both get too distracted.
"We can email Kular and Willow with the idea later. One of them should be able to come up with something useful."
The scars seem to take forever to heal, and Xander curses the bandages that keep his usually agile fingers stiff and clumsy, inflexible; his sense of touch muffled and less than useless. He can't even masturbate or pee alone. And the ones on his feet are a hundred times more troublesome.
When Spike finally decides it's time to remove the medicated padding and wraps, they both watch intently as Xander washes off the blue-black ointment that has spent the last five days seeping into his skin. When it's gone, his hands and feet are very faintly stained, as they'd been warned, and it makes the scarification stand out, silvery and embossed, as readable as Braille.
There are fourteen tiny constellations seared into each hand: one on the pad of each finger and thumb and on every joint below. There are twenty-one on each foot: one on the pad of each toe and then five more on the ball of each foot, pinpointing the metatarsal-phalangeal joints. Two lines of five more follow the outer edge of each foot and the inner curves of his arches, with a final constellation low on the back of each heel. Those two had hurt the most.
In total, he now wears seventy different patterns of stars, collected from – and in – thirteen different dimensions. They don't stop him getting lost and they can't tell him where he is. He'll know if he ends up in the wrong dimension, but not which one he's in, and they can't open a handy inter-dimensional portal to get him home.
What they can do is nudge him in the right direction. No matter how lost he gets, he need only focus on his chosen target – Spike, of course - and the insistent tingles in his fingers and toes will lead the way.
A few days after the big reveal, Xander snaps his fingers and announces, with unfettered glee, "Hey! I just realised, I'm the one with the scars, but you're the one who's been magically lo-jacked. That's kinda cool."
Spike's expression is priceless.