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The Hots (Victorian Style)

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It wasn't the dangerous-sounding muttering he sometimes heard in the middle of the night or the odd thumps coming from Spike's room under the cover of darkness that bugged Xander most. It was all the nervous daytime "Good show!"s when Xander cracked a joke, or even slightly giddy, "Well played, sir!" remarks in the evening when Xander told stories about how he'd talked his way into the winning bid on a contract for work.

When Xander came home late one afternoon to see Spike sort of bending and smiling at him, he finally asked, "Do you need a hat or something, Spike? Because you look like you want to be doffing one right about now." Spike's uncertain smile and flushed cheeks in response made Xander fidgety for two whole days after that.

"What's up with him?" he whispered to Dawn one night when she came over to get out of Buffy's hair and watch a samurai flick. Spike had pulled out a chair for Xander to sit in (never mind that Xander either sprawled on the couch or flopped onto the floor) and insisted on getting him something to drink.

"I think he's digging your chili," she mouthed back.

"Nuh uh," Xander said far too loud in response.

"Is this young lady disturbing you?" Spike asked solicitously. He came over and looked like he was ready to start wringing his hands. "Of course one of your charms must attract a number of unwelcome suitors -- the perils of boasting such good humor and, may I say it, enthralling eyes! Allow me to act as a deterrent, if you would, sir, between you and your passionate admirers, and you would find me most grateful for even the merest crumb of your --"

Xander grabbed Dawn's arm and yanked her into the next room.

"See?" she said smugly despite rubbing her arm. "He thinks you're totally cool. He wants to defend your honor and stuff."

"Are you serious?" he said in a half-whisper, half-yelp. "Spike's got the hots for me?"

"Like, Victorian style or something. Because that's when he got," and here she mimed a maul-y bite-y gesture. "And now you're putting him up, and he's all," and here she made a starry-eyed simpering expression Xander hadn't seen on her since she went through her *NSYNC postered-walls phase.

"He's just temporarily loco," Xander dismissed.

She shrugged. "Maybe. But don't be surprised if he tries to ask for your dance card, or whatever."

The next morning, Xander stumbled into the kitchen to get a mugful of coffee, only to find one already prepared for him: a good one-quarter cream, and four sugars.

"Thanks," he croaked at Spike, who for some reason was wearing one of Xander's dress shirts with his jeans.

"Not at all," Spike replied, his eyes darting everywhere but Xander, who stood in only his boxers and with his hair on end.

"Look, I," Xander tried. "You seem really," he said, and then stopped short.

"This is all very sudden, I know." Spike's voice had gone low and mellow, and somehow Xander found himself leaning forward to hear it better. "Be assured I expect nothing from you at present, but merely to remain in your company. I can only hope that in days to come, your friendly nature will respond to me in kind, if I could prove myself worthy --" He took one of Xander's hands in both of his and kissed the back of it fervently.

Xander's jaw dropped. Spike's eyes widened.

"Forgive me for taking such liberties," Spike stammered, and hauled tail back to his aggrandized closet.

The phone rang.

"Xander can you get over here before work?" Buffy asked urgently. "Things are getting weird."

Xander put down the receiver and stared at the back of his hand. "Like she knows from weird," he muttered, not noticing how he had begun to stroke the spot Spike had kissed with his fingertip.