Xander smiled at the looks he, or rather the Viper, was getting as he pulled out of the municipal parking garage. He probably should have kept to the speed limit down the circular ramp, but what was the fun in that?
Making a right hand turn, he eased onto the street and headed back to the condo. At some point he'd take the car out for a real run, but the traffic reports indicated that rush hour was more of a permanent condition than otherwise. Sure, Sunnydale was home to a Hellmouth, but nothing had prepared him for LA's congestion. He'd seen bad traffic in Africa, but the stoppages in LA generally weren't due to obstinate oxen.
He hit the CD player and the Ramones invited him to Gimme gimme shock treatment. Xander thought about adding his own CDs to the changer, but this gave him a chance to listen to Spike's music and prepare his snarky comments for later.
Things had been a weird kind of good between them. No talking about what happened, but, after turning up with his "parking problem," Spike had come upstairs to try his hand at Halo -- "purely as physical therapy that, mind you". That purely physical was right. While Spike had improved with the old Sega games, Halo was a quantum leap forward. Xander found himself wrapped around Spike, hands over hands to help him figure out the control sequences. From that position it only took a twist of Spike's head until they were kissing. Kissing lead to touching, which lead to stripping, and then it was orgasmpalooza.
Over the next week, it fell into a pattern. Out on patrol or out for some beers, then back for a movie or some gaming, leading to what Spike called "snogging and rutting." 'Course, after a patrol, they sometimes skipped the electronic fun. Spending time learning each other's bodies, by touch, by taste, and by sight. He'd run his hands over Spike's torso so often he could probably carve it from memory. Afterward, when they were puppy-piled on the bed, he was still amazed by the lack of a heartbeat. But spending time with Spike meant being surrounded by his scent: leather, cigarette smoke, a light haze of bourbon. Things he hadn't realized he'd missed, but scents he now couldn't imagine living without. He'd found Spike's ticklish spots -- why would his left, and only the left, kneecap be ticklish? --and Spike had found his, which so wasn't fair. But he also knew which spots would drive Spike crazy. Not bad for a week's work. No penetration -- despite his previous experience, Xander hadn't initiated that -- but they found dozens of ways to get their rocks off, sharing enough orgasms to satisfy even Anya.
Parking beneath his building, Xander grabbed the bags in the truck, wondering why something as alien and inedible as Weetabix would cost so much. He'd found Return of the Killer Tomatoes and was looking forward to Spike's snarkage at the plot, at young George Clooney, and at the "product placement" segments.
He was whistling some Ramones, badly, as the empty elevator carried him back to the penthouse. Juggling the bags and his keys, he heard, then saw, what must be the occupant of the other suite.
"Need a hand with that?" she asked, flipping her California blonde hair. Did they hand out free peroxide at LA's city limits?
"Nope, just fine, thanks."
"My name's Verona and I've just moved in down the hall."
"Um great." She didn't look like a city, but with a Buffy, a Willow and a Spike among his friends, wasn't much in a stone-throwing position. Why was she still here? Ohh.
"Xander. I'd shake, but…" he shrugged indicating his full hands.
Giggling, she smiled and headed toward the elevator, tossing back a "nice to meet you."
Finally getting into the Council's place, he put the paper grocery bags on the breakfast bar. Why couldn't the British import shop have used plastic with handles like everyone else?
He headed to the computer and chuckled again over the wallpaper of Puppet Angel that Spike had asked Fred to send over. She'd added Sesame Street's Count and some bats to it. The girl might be quiet, but she had a wicked sense of humour.
No new emails, if he discounted the daily update from Andrew. Which he did. No real desire to hear how successful the others were at the moment. Not like the Council was replacing THEM without notice. He thought he'd been doing well, but… nope, been on that thought track too many times with no change in the destination. That was Africa. This was LA. He had more important concerns.
Lazily stretching, he pondered whether he should shower then eat, or eat then shower. If they were doing heavy patrol, he should eat first -- nothing like facing stinky demon goo on a full stomach -- but if he was going to order in, he should order, then shower, then --
The phone rang, dragging him from the banality of his thoughts. Only one person had the number.
"Harris," Spike's voice sounded… tight was the word that sprang to mind. This was new and he didn't think he liked it.
"Why do I get the feeling you're not calling to place a snack order?"
"It's Fred." And now there was a heavy layer of concern weaving through his tone.
"Can I help?" Nope, he had not just volunteered to help the Lord of the Puppets, no way had he done that.
"Wish you could, pet. Angel and I are flying to England to see a bloke. Don't know when I'll be back."
All systems on red alert. Spike had called Deadboy by his name and had skipped the snarkage.
"How serious are we talking here? Should I contact..."
"It's a magic thing," Spike interjected. "We'll fix it. It's what..."
"You do. I know. Clooney and the Killer Tomatoes will keep." He heard shouting in the background.
"Don't get your knickers, oh, who am I kidding?" Spike said, clearly to Angel. "Sorry, gotta fly, literally. Um, any tips?"
Taking this abrupt change in topic in stride, he said, with the confidence of a seasoned traveller, "Sleep if you can, and chew gum on the ascent and descent. It helps me with the pressurization."
"Thanks, mate. Don't know how long..."
"Call me when you've won. There had better be stories, and don't forget duty-free presents!"
"Bye," Xander said to the dial tone.
He sank down onto the leather couch. Well, at least he'd been able to give travel advice, so not a complete Zeppo. And he wasn't part of Angel's team, so there was no reason he should feel left out. But his years as a Scooby gave him Pavlovian training for panic phone calls and long research hours. On the other hand, he'd been flying more solo since being sent to Africa. Left out was a familiar feeling; coming up with his own plan was becoming one.
Sounds like the A team wasn't going to be patrolling; maybe he should take up the slack. After his shower.