"Ow," Xander exclaimed, dropping his razor in the warm water pooled in the sink. He touched his cheek gingerly and winced, not only at the cut but at the ache in his right hand. Taking a deep breath, he shook his hand out to loosen the muscle. But that just seemed to make it hurt more.
With a sigh, he let his hand fall to rest on the counter. Then he checked the mirror to see if his cheek was still bleeding. "Great, just great." He grabbed his styptic pencil, fumbling it in his left hand before doing his best to dot it along the tender area. At the glancing touch of the chalky end of the stick to his skin, he made a little whimpering noise.
Maybe he was acting like a big baby, he thought as he screwed his face up at himself in the mirror, but the stupid stick smarted like crazy. Besides, there was no one around to hear him.
"Quit your whinging; you barely scratched yourself," a voice advised from behind him.
Xander yelped and gripped the vanity with both hands. The pain flared in his right hand and he forced himself to breathe in and out twice before saying, "Can you not sneak up behind me where I can't see you?"
"Can you ever see me when I sneak up behind you?"
Xander had to turn to see Spike giving him an exasperated look. "Mirror!" He gestured at the wall, and then gripped his right hand to his chest protectively. "I should be able to see you, but I can't because it's you! Besides, I distinctly remember talking about how you were going to let me know you were there in reflective-type situations."
"Well, you talked about it." Spike examined his nails. "Bit too much, if I remember rightly. Don't remember agreeing to anything, though."
"Fine, fine." Xander took another deep breath. Now was obviously not the time to go over conditions by which Spike could stay living in the basement with him and not get turned into a pile of dust. He tried again. "Say, Spike, can you just clear out of here so I can try to finish up?"
"'Bout the fourth time you nicked yourself, from the sound of it." Spike eyed him shrewdly.
"So what?" Xander went to rub his eyes with his right hand, but remembered to switch to his left at the last minute to avoid further hand muscle twinge-y-ness. Then he had to rear back to stop from stabbing his styptic pencil into his eyeball.
"Well, obviously you can't do it properly!" Spike scowled, as though Xander's failure to shave the right way had offended him personally. "Give it here."
"What?" Xander backed up to the sink, trying to block Spike's path to the razor. His antiseptic pencil clattered to the tile floor. "Hand you something with sharp edges and expose my tender parts to you? No way!"
Spike snorted. "Can't hurt you much with the safety razors they have these days. Besides, the chip would stop me from hacking away at you."
"Oh, that's reassuring," Xander shot back. "Makes me want to give you all kinds of everyday jagged objects, honest."
Spike looked wistful for a moment, but then his face cleared. "Why are you trying to have a shave now, anyway?" He looked Xander up and down. "Thought you were out of work until you healed up."
"I was. I mean, I didn't get fired. I'm out on leave." Xander had a bizarre urge to cross his arms to cover himself. But it wasn't like Spike would even care that Xander was standing there in only his boxers. What was he supposed to wear to shave, anyway?
"My supervisor called, though; there's a position they're interviewing for, and he wants me to come in for that," he continued.
"Might get a promotion, then," Spike observed.
"That's the idea, if I can ever finish getting ready." Xander gave him a meaningful glare.
"How likely is it they'll say you're the man for the job if you come in looking scruffy as you are right now?" Spike wondered. He tilted his head to the side.
"You know what? I'm so worked up at this point I'm probably going to give a lousy interview anyway. So, fine. What do I care?" He grabbed the razor and slapped it onto Spike's palm. "Go crazy."
"Don't act like you're doing me any favors," Spike groused. He grabbed the hand towel from the rack and roughly wiped away the thick foam still globbed around Xander's face and neck. "Sometimes I wonder why I ever help you lot."
"Hey, hey! Cut it out!" Xander complained, trying to snag the towel back. "I need shaving gel so I won't get all rashy from the blade."
"It's impressive you can get at the bristle with all that on you." Spike batted Xander's hand away before rinsing the towel in the hot water. He squeezed it out briskly and slapped it over Xander's face.
"Ow! That's hot!"
"'Course it's hot! It's not all that canned foam that helps, it's good hot steam and a sharp blade! Now bend a bit so I can reach."
Xander heaved a sigh, but bent his knees a little so Spike wasn't stretching to get at his skin. He rested his butt against the vanity and waited. "Can I take this off now?" he asked, muffled through the towel.
He heaved a sigh and closed his eyes, listening to Spike splash around in the basin.
Then finally Spike peeled the hot towel off and smoothed a thin layer of foam on Xander's face. Spike's hands were warm from the water, and surprisingly soft as he worked a lather along Xander's skin.
Xander swallowed, not certain where to look. Spike was awfully close, though he supposed that was a good thing, considering the potential for ouchies if Spike tried to shave him at arm's length. He opened his eyes and closed them a few times, unsure whether he wanted to keep watch or ignore Spike until it was over.
"Just relax," Spike murmured, raising the razor and drawing it with care over Xander's cheek.
"Relax, he says," Xander muttered. He tried opening one eye and closing the other, which got Spike to look at him like he was insane.
But after a little while when it became more evident that Spike wasn't going to risk a chip-induced headache and slash him to bits, Xander sighed and settled for keeping his eyelids only slightly open.
Gradually the steam from the towel and hot water in the sink fogged up the room, and Spike's careful rhythmic scrapes of the razor over Xander's skin lulled him into unwinding. He slumped against the sink and breathed deeply.
"You done?" Xander asked. He was surprised how hoarse his voice sounded. He blinked a little in the hazy moist air.
"Not yet. Stay still," Spike advised in a low voice, stepping in between Xander's legs.
"Not moving," Xander mumbled.
"Good lad." Spike reached up, stroking a considering hand over Xander's cheek, examining Xander as though he was a lump of clay he was sculpting. Then he edged in closer still, almost torso to torso with Xander.
Funny how his legs were starting to shake a little, Xander thought apprehensively as Spike swept the blade this way and that, his movements becoming more precise and targeted as he shaped Xander's sideburns. Spike touched his face with fingertips occasionally, turning him slightly this way or that, and skimming along the surface of his skin to check the closeness of the shave.
Xander tried to keep his breathing steady. He'd never even had a barber shave him before, never had anyone else do anything like this until now.
"There we are," Spike whispered in Xander's ear.
Xander shivered. Spike was still really close, but it sounded like he was done -- nope, not done yet, because dabbing away the remaining foam with that hot towel, wiping and touching and smoothing and cleaning...
As Spike stroked down Xander's neck with a single fingertip, Xander nearly started upright. He was getting hard. And no way could Spike not tell, on account of how they were nearly skin to skin at this point, even with the haze of the room and the swish of the blade having made everything fuzzy.
"Um," he stammered.
"Done." Spike's blue eyes gazed into his, searching and unreadable.
Xander pulled in and back a little to curve his groin away. "Thanks."
Spike stepped away, leaving the room without another word.
Xander took a long shuddering breath.
"So it went well?"
"The interview." Buffy swung her legs on the tombstone she was perched on. "It was today, right?"
"Right, yeah. I think it did. They said at the end they want me to come back tomorrow, talk to the vice-president."
"That's good, right?" Buffy asked.
"That's great! Look at you, Xander!" Willow said enthusiastically. "You're second-interview material!"
"Yeah." Xander absently reached up and stroked his cheek with his right hand. He had felt oddly confident during the interview after Spike helped him out in the bathroom. Nothing like a clean close shave for a man's self-esteem, he thought to himself a little hysterically.
"Bet your hand still hurts," Willow said sympathetically. "I hope it's healing quickly."
"What?" Xander asked vaguely. Spike hadn't said anything about, well, Xander's erection pressing up against his thigh, but there was no way he hadn't noticed. Maybe he was being nice, not saying anything, figuring it was random? Xander almost choked. Spike being nice? There had to be something else going on.
"Your hand," Willow said, giving him an odd look. "You know, the one you hurt on the site, from lifting and straining and stuff? The one your doctor said you should rest for a couple more days?"
"Right." Xander stared at his hand. Probably lots of guys got stiff when they were shaved by someone else. It was a whole thing, with the steam and the lather and the stroking. He cleared his throat and tried not to conjure up the image of Spike's blue eyes or the feel of Spike's fingertips caressing his throat.
"Whoops, there he is," Buffy announced, as though she had spotted the ice cream man. "Let's go."
Too bad it wasn't the ice cream man, Xander thought grimly as he moved to follow Buffy moving toward the scary demon they had been staking out. He was supposed to stay back mostly ("On account of hand-hurty-ness," Buffy had said cheerfully), but help cause a distraction if the demon seemed about to turn toward town. For his distraction, Xander thought as he watched the demon lumber forward with a growl, he was leaning toward your basic screaming and running.
But Buffy was already launching her attack, shooting arrows from her crossbow, reloading and striking the demon three times in succession, wham! wham! wham!
"Buffy, watch out," Willow shrieked as the thing stopped growling and started exploding.
"Stay back, everyone!" Buffy shouted.
Xander and Willow skittered back when Buffy turned and sprinted toward them.
Luckily none of them got hit with the demon goo.
"Yeesh. That was a close shave," Buffy commented.
"What? No!" Xander patted his face frantically. "It's a regular shave, if anything! And I don't know what you're implying by 'close'."
She blinked. "I meant the acid-y guts demon exploding over there instead of right next to us?"
"Oh." He stared over at the pile of smoking entrails surrounded by hissing and charred grass and shrubbery. "Right." His fingers lifted to his jaw, trailing along the bone.
"What's wrong, Xander? You usually appreciate good caper talk," Willow said with a worried frown.
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing is wrong."
"Why do you keep touching your face?" Buffy asked, pausing with her crossbow balanced on her shoulder.
"Do not," Xander said weakly. He dropped his hand immediately, flinching when the motion made the ache flash through his nerves.
The two of them exchanged a look. "You probably want to get home, get ready for that follow-up interview," Buffy said.
"Good idea. You want to be self-assured and smooth tomorrow, right?" Willow suggested.
"Smooth? No. I'm smooth enough. Plenty of smoothness." Xander stretched his hands out as far as they could get from his face so he wouldn't be tempted to touch it, stumbled over a small gravestone and lurched to keep himself upright with the help of a convenient tree.
"What say we walk you home?" Buffy suggested diplomatically, taking his arm.
"Fine, I'm fine," Xander blurted at the sound of a creak on the threshold. Of course his anxious glance at the mirror revealed nothing. Stupid lack of vampiric reflection.
He spun around to see Spike leaning against the door jamb, eyebrows raised.
"Good to know." Spike looked him over, appraising, while Xander flushed from his face down to his chest and middle. He was just in his boxers again -- it seemed weird to try to wear something with more coverage just because Spike had shaved him yesterday. Spike had shaved him yesterday -- something about that phrase just sounded too perverted even to think. He choked a little, dropping the washcloth he held to the grimy floor.
"Another interview, then?" Spike asked.
"Good on you." Spike moved his lips into a moue. "So do you need help with --"
"No, no," Xander rushed to answer. "I'm good -- good from yesterday, see? All smooth." He slapped his cheek for emphasis with his left hand and cringed.
"You?" Spike scoffed, stalking closer. "No, you're not smooth."
"No?" Xander tried to back away, but there was only so far he could go before he hit the sink (which he soon did, with an Oof!). "I mean, hey, sure I am --"
"No," Spike answered. He had a funny sort of smile on his face. "You're the type of bloke who could do with a shave twice a day, never mind thinking he can skip a day." When he was close enough he raised his hand, cupping Xander's jaw. "You've a heavy beard if you let it go." His thumb skimmed along Xander's jaw line. "Thick dark hair." He glanced at Xander's smattering of chest hair then back up at Xander's face.
"I...guess?" Xander offered.
Spike grinned. "You see? Of course you need my help."
Xander opened his mouth to protest when Spike began running the water, but a second later found himself once again being slapped in the face with a hot towel. "Ow!"
"Quit your complaining," Spike replied.
"Come on now, you know how this goes," Spike crooned in a low voice.
Xander gave a hesitant nod, and once again scooted down a little so his knees were bent and his backside resting against the vanity.
Spike wasted no time this round, immediately closing the distance between them.
"Want to look good for your meeting, don't you?" Spike murmured.
As before, Spike's hands were soft as he removed the towel and started to work the gel into lather on Xander's skin.
"Well, then," Spike whispered into his ear. "Leave yourself in my capable hands, eh?"
Xander definitely didn't have an answer for that. He tried to think the un-sexiest thoughts he could muster. But somehow his stupid brain had come up with the equation that Spike plus shaving equaled sexiest thing ever, so he was pretty much at a loss. Add in mention of Spike's capable hands, and Xander was left flailing for some imaginary core of inner strength so he wouldn't start humping Spike's leg.
Yesterday he had spent the first half of the whole shaving thing figuring out where to look. But it wasn't that Xander didn't know where to look now. It was that he couldn't look away, away from Spike's clear blue eyes, from his sharp set jaw, from his soft-looking lips. He did his best not to stare at Spike's hands as they touched and turned his face. He really tried as hard as he could not to see how Spike leaned closer to him, how Spike's lips curved upward whenever Xander took a shaky breath.
"Relax," Spike said, an echo of yesterday's scolding, this time smiling as he said the word.
Xander stifled a panicked laugh. Not that the steam and the gel and the fingertips weren't all having an effect on him, but relaxation sure wasn't it.
"Here we are," Spike said in a quiet voice, drawing the razor steadily over Xander's cheek then down his neck.
Smooth and scrape, lift and slide, and Xander was trembling all over as Spike hummed a little tune as he worked to shave Xander's cheeks, chin, lip, and neck.
Even though the water cooled and the steam dissipated, it only seemed to get hotter in the room whenever Spike touched Xander's face, feeling his skin for traces of stubble and assessing his progress as he went.
"Interview in the morning again?" Spike asked casually as he wiped away bits of foam from Xander's face.
"Ngh," Xander exhaled. "I mean, no," he corrected himself quickly, horrified at the needy sound he'd made. "Not 'til this afternoon, so not for a couple more hours."
"Hmm." There was a splash as Spike dropped the damp cloth into the water.
Xander gulped, waiting for Spike to back away.
Instead Spike surged closer, and Xander gasped as Spike grasped his cheeks with both hands and kissed him hard.
And oh god, hard, Spike was hard too, and the way Xander's knees were still just a little bent brought them right up against each other. And if Xander thought shaving was suddenly sexy, it was absolutely nothing compared to Spike's tongue flickering in his mouth and Spike's cock rubbing against his through denim and thin cotton.
"Ngh," Xander repeated dumbly, and Spike grinned at him.
"Think you're the man for the job then?" Spike asked.
"Mlurble," Xander blurted.
Spike laughed as he tilted his hips forward and Xander bucked helplessly into the slow grind. "Now that you know what a good shave can do for you, let's see what this does for your confidence level, eh?"