It was part of their nightly ritual since Spike had agreed to move in with Xander a little over a month ago that they’d watch TV, eat whatever take-out Xander had a coupon for and could be speedily delivered – tonight it was Mr. Li’s Asian Express – and then canoodle on the couch. They hadn’t worked up to more than some fondling and steaming hot, melt-your-socks kissing. Xander had some fumbling experience with a male cousin (twice removed) on his trip to Oxnard and between the not so tender ministrations of Angelus and The Initiative, Spike (surprisingly for a vampire) was as skittish as a colt, so they were taking it slow.
Before this gentleman’s agreement, the first time Xander had stretched his arm along the back of the couch and ‘accidentally’ brushed against the short, platinum blond strands that curled at the nape of the vampires neck, Spike jumped like his jeans were on fire. “Wo-wotcha d-doin’ there, Mate?” he stuttered anxiously, balling up his fists in a defensive gesture while his milky skin flushed a pale rose, telegraphing the gamut of emotions the vampire was feeling.
Xander’s life flashed before his wide brown eyes and he jumped up as well, his hands held out soothingly, “Whoa there, Spike, no need to take umbrage (it was funny how bits from his admittedly dismal scholastic career would show up at the oddest times), I was just stretching my arm out, you know to relieve a cramping muscle . . . in my arm . . . not a muscle that needed relieving somewhere else and I umm wasn’t really trying to touch you or anything unless you’d like to be touched, but since you’re umm acting like you want to tear my head off, which wouldn’t be of the good considering your chip, I’m getting the idea that umm that would be a no . . . to the touching, I mean.” He babbled nervously, shifting his feet as he stood over the bare-footed vampire; without his boots, Spike’s 5’10” wound up being more like a 5’8”, leaving him at least five inches shorter than his human companion.
They had been getting comfortably friendly since Xander had insisted (for Spike’s safety) that he move in with him and yes Spike could smell the arousal, but hell they’d been swilling beer, scarfing pizza and ogling Baywatch. He thought the stiffy tinting the boy’s baggy jeans and bright orange and purple Hawaiian shirt with the surfing Scooby Doos on it was the result of Pamela Anderson’s gigantic and barely-constrained-by-her-skimpy-bathing-suit-while-they-jiggled knockers.
Spike found Xander attractive, but he’d also never had a real friend before and wasn’t sure he wanted to risk that new found friendship. Also, his past occurrences with male to male sex (more like rape) had not left him with a deep desire to repeat the experience. Did he really want a physical relationship with the whelp? Looking inward, he was surprised that he did. Was he ready for that kind of relationship right now? That would be a no, but maybe eventually . . . if Xander didn’t get tired of waiting first. Spike made a quick decision, because unlike his grand-sire, the great poof, he wasn’t keen on brooding a subject to death. “Never said I didn’ wanna be touched, jus’ don’ wanna be snuck up on, warn a bloke first.” He said in his heavy cockney accent and with the beginnings of a timid smile.
Slowly and very gently, Xander reached out to grasp Spike’s narrow chin and tilted it up. He waited for permission and found it in a pair of innocent (in spite of the demon) cornflower blue eyes and said, “Sure, Baby, we’ll take this as slow as you need to.” Just as Spike was going to protest being called ‘baby’, Xander leaned forward and gently kissed him, “Your lips are so soft.” He murmured in surprise, “and they taste of pizza sauce, oregano and beer.”
Spike blushed faintly at the compliment before grasping at his masculinity with a snort and a rejoinder of, “American piss water, you mean!”
That had been just a few days after Halloween and by Thanksgiving they had progressed from that first chaste kiss to the tonsil hockey Olympics and Spike with his long agile tongue was going for the gold. Xander had his hand down Spike’s jeans, fondling his hard and weeping dick – the advantage to no underwear was more room for easier access, but the drawback was the very noticeable and cold wet spot that a very excited and drooling cock could cause on black denim.
Hearing a roaring in his ears, Xander had to break away, gasping for much needed air. Spike watched with concern and more than a little guilt that he’d forgotten that his lover needed to breathe occasionally. “Sorry ‘bout that, Pet, are you alright?”
Not ready to give up despite the momentary dizziness, Xander grinned sheepishly as he tried to reassure his lover, “Just let me grab another lungful and I’ll be ready for more mouth to mouth.”
Sitting up from where he’d been leaning into his human, Spike balled his fist up to punch Xander in the shoulder and stopped just in time as he remembered his chip. “Don’ be a daft bugger, Xan, you’re pale as a proverbial ghost an’ your ticker’s a racin’. I’m not lettin’ you bloody asphyxiate yourself over a kiss. We’ll take a breather, pun intended, before the kung pao chicken starts formin’ icicles on it.”
Doing a mock salute, Xander grinned and said, “Yes sir!” and then swooped in for a quick peck on the cool cheek, “I love it when you get all bossy and protective!” as he picked up a cold egg roll and dipped it in duck sauce before biting the end off with a sigh of satisfaction.
Spike leant forward and licked a smear of the orangey condiment from Xander’s lip and at the last moment nipped him with his human teeth. The moan and the flood of musk was worth the twinge of warning that the chip gave him. With a chuckle he sat back and wielding his chopsticks with practiced ease went back to eating his food, dunking the bits of chicken into a small cup of blood. “That’s jus’ a sample o’ wot’s for desert when good li’l boys eat up their dinner.” He was rewarded by another wave of eau de Xander and the boy trying to swallow his eggroll without chewing it.
“Xan-pet, if you choke t’ death we won’ be able t’ get back t’ doin’ what we was doin’, slow down an’ actually chew . . .” Spike’s attention was caught by movement on the television. “Oi, it’s that bint that’s the co-anchor on the channel four evening news cast. She’s got the depth of a bucket, but her tits are nice!”
Xander used the remote to turn up the sound when he saw the buxom blonde newswoman standing outside the gates of a factory with a handful of workers milling around, shock and misery on their faces; she was holding up a package of Twinkies as she chirped cheerfully, “Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, it’s the end of an era. Hostess, the snack conglomerate has announced that they will be closing their factory doors forever. If you’re a pastry connoisseur of such confections as Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, Donettes, Ding Dongs and Fruit Pies, then I suggest you start stocking up your pantry before they’re all gone. This has been Tiffany Glass, reporting.”
“Say it ain’t so, Tiffany.” Xander begged, his expression one of shocked horror as if he’d just found out that he’d lost a good friend and in essence that’s exactly what was happening. He’d had the spongy goodness to lean on in good times and bad as long as he could remember; even longer than he’d known his best friend, Willow. Where could he turn for a quick sugary pick-me-up when he was feeling down or a celebratory sugar high when they’d kicked some big demons butt before it could destroy the world? What was going to be his reward now, huh, cruel world?
Xander used the remote to turn off the set and just sat and stared. He ignored his dinner and worst of all, he ignored Spike. Trying to be conciliatory, Spike patted Xander on the thigh and said, “Not t’ worry, Pet, I’m sure you’ll find something else you’ll like even better.”
Xander pulled away from his lover’s hand and said in a cold voice, “I can’t believe you just said that. I know you think I’m being silly, but Twinkies are important to me.” He stood up abruptly, his eyes cold and hard as he said, “I’m tired, Spike, I’ll see you tomorrow.” And then he left without so much as a kiss on the cheek or an invitation to come to bed with him.
Spike was shocked speechless as he stared at the retreating back of his only friend and lover. He felt his eyes burning and couldn’t fathom what the trouble could be as he slowly bent to pick up the boxes and wrappers from their aborted dinner. His eyesight was all hazy and he was having trouble seeing. He was also experiencing a burning in his chest . . . it must be heartburn, but he’d never had it before so he wasn’t sure.
Going into the kitchen, he tossed the dinner remains into the trash bin and the aluminum beer cans into the recycling box. Spike then turned around and took one last look before setting the lock and closing the door of the apartment behind him. Xander didn’t want him anymore. Trudging towards his crypt, he looked up and searched the clear moonlit skies for the storm clouds that were causing rain to drip down his face.
Xander rubbed his burning eyes, he didn’t think he’d slept more than three hours all night and that was in half-hour intervals. He rolled over and patted the dip in the worn-out mattress that Spike had been occupying lately. He felt like such a shit for the way he’d acted, giving his lover the cold shoulder for daring to comfort him over snack cakes for gods sakes; even if it was about his beloved Twinkies, it still was no excuse, damn it!
Adjusting his morning hard on so he could get more easily to his balls, he gave himself a satisfying scritch and then with a sigh, he rolled over and got up. He had a good stretch, his arms akimbo before searching the ground for his discarded Sponge Bob boxers and found them under the edge of the bed. Pinching them between his toes, he lifted his foot until his shorts were high enough to grab and then brought them up to his face, giving them a good sniff before deciding they weren’t too ripe yet and slid them on; he really needed to get some laundry done before he ran out of passably clean clothing.
Xander’s stomach was growling, but the need to pee was more urgent and as soon as he was done ‘draining the old lizard’ – he loved that expression, but Buffy and Willow always ‘EWED,’ loudly, yelled at him and then told him he was crude when he used it – he’d have to find Spike and apologize for how he’d acted last night. He knew that the vampire would understand, because as different as they were, they were both still men and real men didn’t get all ‘weepy and girly’ from a misunderstanding.
Opening the door to his bedroom, he walked the few steps up his short hallway to his apartment’s small bathroom. He closed the door and went over to the toilet, lifting the lid on the seat (even though Anya and her threat to castrate him if he left the seat up again were both gone, the habit was still there and it kept him from getting yelled at by Buffy and Willow on the few occasions that they’d consent to visit his humble abode) and straddled the bowl before sending his first pee of the day (the most satisfying of all) splashing into the commode. Giving Li’l Xander a tap and a couple of good shakes, he righted his boxers and then made his way to the sink.
He took his blue toothbrush down out of the glass, leaving Spike’s red (only because they don’t come in black) one and proceeded to dry-brush his teeth. When he felt he’d gotten each tooth a couple of times, Xander rinsed off his toothbrush while swigging a mouth full of Listerine. He then spat out the astringent liquid and sucked his teeth before smiling into the mirror – they looked OK to him. Running his hand over both cheeks he decided that his light stubble was just enough to make him look ‘manly’ so he opted not to shave and then sniffed his armpits, deciding he could forego a shower if he just touched up his Right Guard; he rubbed the antiperspirant over his underarms until he was satisfied with the coverage.
Xander paused before opening the door, surprised at the feeling of iron butterflies swooping around in his belly. He didn’t understand why he felt nervous about telling Spike that he was sorry, hell he said it to Willow and Buffy all of the time! Maybe it was because with the girls he always felt less important or more like they expected his screw ups. Spike was different; he seemed to understand feeling inadequate to those around you even if he covered it up with all of that bad-assed attitude and cockiness. They also liked a lot of the same things and when Buffy wasn’t around acting all superior, they actually got along.
And now they’d taken the ‘getting along’ one step further to ‘friends with benefits; maybe someday they’d even graduate to ‘fuck buddies’ when Spike was ready, but it wasn’t like they had a relationship or anything that he had to worry about hurting the vampires feelings. He tightened his stomach muscles, effectively putting an end to the swooping antics of the flying insects and nerved himself up to opening the door. After that was accomplished, he forced one foot out and then the other, before he knew it he was walking down his short hallway into the quiet living room.
“Hey, Spike, I just wanted to say . . .” his voice faded out when he realized the living room was empty. He looked around frowning and walked over to the TV, placing a hand on the top and finding it cool so it’d been off for a while and the food remains from the evening were gone. He walked into the kitchen and saw that the box’s stamped, Mr. Li’s Asian Express and the beer cans had all been tossed into their respective bins. ‘Well, I shouldn’t be surprised that he got mad and left; I am surprised that he cleaned up first though . . . I wonder if that means something? Oh well, I’ll apologize to him tonight at The Magic Box, that’ll give him time to cool off.’
Trying to soothe the beginnings of a headache by rubbing a circle into the sore spot between his eyes, he sighed, ‘ I’ll have to do it without Willow and Buffy catching on though, I don’t need them ‘razzing’ me about my boyfriend and Buffy gives Spike enough shit about us protecting him from The Initiative, all he needs is for her to start giving him even more crap about being my ‘kept’ vampire; I’m sure he’d find a creative way to get rid of my ass and hers, out of revenge, chip or no chip.’ He thought as he wandered around his now empty and very lonely apartment.
The sound of tires belonging to a highly polished, silver BMW screeched up to the fence outside of the Sunnydale Hostess factory. Tiffany Glass finished putting on her lipstick while giving herself a last once-over in the rear view mirror. She patted her hair reflexively since she’d covered it in enough spray that it could have withstood a tornado before jumping out of her car and slamming the door behind her. “STOP RIGHT THERE, JARED DOSS” She screeched before running up to the channel four news van and it’s crew.
“Tiffany, what are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be covering that human interest feature about the Virgin Mary’s likeness in a toasted English muffin?” The tall and extremely tanned man said through a forced smile of brilliantly white teeth while rolling his dark eyes and expertly juggling his microphone to adjust the knot in his blue tie.
A string of pearls vied for pride of place and bounced along with Tiffany’s ample bosom in a low-cut navy blue sheath dress that hugged her curves a little too lovingly. She finished off her patriotic ensemble with red heels, stepping gingerly over the crunching gravel, ever mindful of any scuffing. With a strength that showed in her tanned and shapely biceps, Tiffany shoved Mike, the cameraman, out of the way before stopping in front of her rival and co-anchor, Jared Doss.
She gave him a death glare as she poked him in the chest (intentionally over the tie he’d just straightened) with a perfectly manicured, blood red fingernail. “Katie Couric wouldn’t report on a puff piece like that and I’m not either.”
Jared snorted derisively and said, “Katie Couric you’re not . . .” Mike gave a nervous, high pitched giggle as Tiffany gave both of them the glare of death. Mike blanched and turned his attention to his camera, fiddling with the lens cap nervously as Jared continued, “And you do the stories that your news director tells you to do, if you want to keep your pretty little derriere employed.”
Tiffany grabbed Jared by his tie and yanked his head down until it was inches from her face. He could feel her warm, mint scented breath ghosting over his cheeks and her blue eyes glittered insanely as they bore into his own. He felt fear grip his heart as he remembered whispers about certain ‘accidents’ that befell anyone with the misfortune of crossing wills with the ambitious blonde. She gritted her teeth and growled, “I don’t care if your father-in-law is the general manager, you piece of smelly dog shit! This segment is my ticket out of here, my chance to be picked up nationally, to get away from garbage stories like the Virgin Mary in a toasted bagel . . .”
“I-i-it was an English mu-mu-muffin.”
“SHUT UP, JARED! She screamed and smiled like a cat torturing a mouse as the timid man jumped before continuing like she’d never been interrupted, “The epidemic of fatal barbecue fork accidents and all of the other piddly shit. Chances like this only come along in a blue moon and I’m not going to let some boot-licking asshole like you keep me from my destiny!
Sensing her prey’s capitulation, Tiffany gave her patented anchor woman smile as she re-straightened the tie she had so recently been mangling, “Now Sweetie, you look like you’re not feeling very well, it’s a good thing I showed up when I did. Why don’t you go sit in the van while Mike and I finish up and then he can run you home.”
Jared’s face was pale, sweat dripping from his forehead and he wasn’t entirely sure that he hadn’t wet himself (just a little) as he nodded his head like a well stringed puppet at his benevolently smiling tormentor. He handed off the microphone before stammering, “Y-y-yes T-t-tiffany,” and shambling off toward the news van.
Scared shitless, Mike’s heart was pounding as he pulled the brim of his faded baseball cap lower over his eyes in a childish gesture of trying to hide; he just wanted to go and sit in the van with Jared, but knew that he couldn’t escape until the crazy bitch got her story. He knew the old adage about curiosity killing the cat, but she couldn’t film herself and with that knowledge to armor him, he threw caution to the wind and asked, “Tiff-squeak” Clearing his throat, he tried again, “Tiffany, how’d you know we were here this morning? I’m pretty sure Fred wouldn’t have told you, so how’d you know?”
Looking at the cameraman like he was a very dim-witted child, she gave a little laugh and said simply, “Police scanner . . . I’ve got one in my home and another in my car. I know everything that goes on in this crummy little berg.” Standing in front of the broken gate and the yard full of police cars, Tiffany gave Mike the signal to start and chirped, “The snack cake saga has taken another twist as rising panic over the unknown future of the Hostess bakery line has given rise to an apparent black market. Last night, thieves scaled the gates and attempted to steal the fleet of fully loaded trucks as they awaited orders from the corporate offices of Hostess on whether or not to distribute the last run of merchandise or to have all inventory destroyed. The thieves were able to get away with one truck before factory security was able to stop them. The Sunnydale Police Department was immediately called and I’m sure will find the culprits with their usual alacrity and efficient methods. For more updates on this and other breaking stories, be sure and stay tuned to channel four news. This is Tiffany Glass reporting.”
Smiling sweetly, the reporter tilted her head toward the cameraman and asked, “How was that?”
Not taken in by the butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth act, Mike said, “That was perfect, Tiffany.”
“I thought so too! Why don’t you let me have the tape and I’ll run it back to editing and you can take Jared home. I’m sure he just needs some rest and Lynn’s such a perfect little wifey, I’m sure she’ll love having him home to spoil and pamper. Then she can call her dad to keep him posted on Jared’s progress and if Fred wants me to handle the anchor by myself until his son-in-law is better, who am I to say no.” She smirked happily holding her hand out until Mike gave her the tape.
“Sure Tiffany, it was obvious to everyone that Jared was working himself into a breakdown. It’s a good thing you were here this morning and Fred’s lucky that you were ready to take over at such short notice.” Mike just wanted out of there and he would do or say anything to accomplish that goal. Then he was going to take Jared home, turn in the van and move somewhere, anywhere, maybe way up north; he really doubted that the wilds of Alaska would appeal to the vicious bitch.
“See you back at the station, Mike.” The tall blonde smiled as she fondled the tape happily.
“Sure, see you later.” ‘Not if I have anything to say about it!’ The cameraman thought.
Spike sat in his crypt at the Sunnydale cemetery all day, not moving from his dilapidated-saved-from-the-dump recliner where it was placed in front of the antique television with a set of mangled rabbit ears on the top (both were more junk-yard recycles). Spike stared off into space, ignoring the early, early morning movie that channel four was running, it was another Christopher Lee/Dracula flick which usually made him laugh hysterically, but he didn’t feel like laughing today – Xander didn’t want him anymore!
He’d decided that he was going to leave Sunnydale, he was tired of getting chewed up and spat out helping the slayer do HER job and getting nothing back for his trouble but some insults and a slam to the head – true he did insult her back and he enjoyed the mayhem that he was able to inflict on the demon community, but hey vampire, what else was he good for? And did those children actually think he didn’t have options, bloody hell, he could’ve killed them a hundred times over if he’d wanted to; he was a fucking master vampire – the youngest in his line and no wanking chip would keep him down for long! He could’ve arranged some very fatal accidents or hired someone to take them out one by one while he had a front row seat from the slayer’s inner circle, but he didn’t do that then and he couldn’t do it now. Vampires lived within a clan or family – that’s how they survived and even unknowingly, the Scoobies had accepted him – albeit reluctantly, but even so, that still made them family – his family and to be protected even to his final death.
That didn’t mean he had to stay, he could always make for Hell-A. Angel’d take him in grudgingly and if only to lord it over him about how helpless he was with the chip and all. ‘Still, it’d be worth taking my sire’s shit for the chance o’ drivin’ the ruddy blighter ‘round the bleedin’ bend.’ That thought was almost enough to cheer him up, but the operative word was almost. He’d been thinking on it since he’d gotten back last night (not brooding like the poof) just mulling over his alternatives when the high pitched and annoying voice of Tiffany Glass, the channel four news anchor, came over the TV. Peering through the static on his little set, he saw her standing outside of the Hostess factory again with her microphone.
“The snack cake saga has taken another twist as rising panic over the unknown future of the Hostess bakery line has given rise to an apparent black market. Last night, thieves scaled the gates and attempted to steal the fleet of fully loaded trucks as they awaited orders from the corporate offices of Hostess on whether or not to distribute the last run of merchandise or to have all inventory destroyed. The thieves were able to get away with one truck before factory security was able to stop them. The Sunnydale Police Department was immediately called and I’m sure will find the culprits with their usual alacrity and efficient methods. For more updates on this and other breaking stories, be sure to stay tuned to channel four news. This is Tiffany Glass reporting.”
Spike tuned out the rest of the morning news broadcast as he hit on a plan to ingratiate himself back into Xander’s good graces and make him love him again. All he had to do was wait for night to fall and if it didn’t work, he’d hie off for L.A. and the chance to annoy Angel – as far as his demon was concerned, it was a win-win situation.