Xander balanced the greasy box on his left hand and narrowly escaped death-by-clobbering in the hallway as an Amazonishly-tall girl with multi-colored clown hair zipped past him on rollerblades. Xander glared a death ray at her back as he knocked on Buffy and Willow's door, and hoped someone managed to clothesline her before she endangered the lives of more innocent pizza delivery guys. When the door remained stubbornly closed, Xander knocked harder and said, "Ladies? Your free food is getting cold."
Someone yanked the door open so fast that Xander nearly got vertigo. Buffy smiled at him brightly before snatching the box out of his hands and stepping back, inviting him in with the flip of a perky blonde ponytail. "Ooh!" she said as she lifted the top of the cardboard box. "Three-cheese bread!"
"Yay!" Willow said, sitting up on her bed. She was surrounded by so many thick textbooks that it looked like she'd been constructing a fort like they used to do when they were little, only back then they'd used blankets and refrigerator boxes and commandeered the middle of the Rosenberg living room.
"I bring the cheesy goodness," Xander said, stepping inside and shutting the door behind him. "It's my raison du fromage."
Willow giggled, but Buffy just wrinkled her nose in confusion. "French and I will never be on speaking terms," she said, plopping down on Willow's bed and sliding the cheese breadsticks between them.
Xander stuck his hands in his pockets. "Well, Buffster, all you really need to know is if a strange man asks 'voulez-vous coucher avec moi?', the answer is to punch him in the face." Willow's mouth was full, but her eyes smiled at him from across the room.
"Pull up a piece of carpet and stay a while," Buffy offered, and then opened her mouth wide to bite off a hunk of bread. As she pulled the breadstick away from her mouth, the melted cheese stretched and grew thin, finally snapping just as Xander was prepared to suspend his disbelief. Strings of cheese dangled from between her teeth like tentacles, making her look kind of like a swamp thing, only cute.
"Yes, stay!" Willow said, bouncing a little on the bed. "Ooh! You can help me with my Ethnomusicology homework. We can have a drum circle!"
He rocked back on his heels. "While the rhythms of West Africa are massively appealing, not to mention that I always dig an opportunity to smack some bongos, I can't stay. I gotta get to work."
Buffy finished slurping the strings of cheese-tentacles into her mouth and pointed at his shirt stained with pizza sauce and grease. "Didn't you just come from work?"
"Keen eye there, Buff," Xander said wryly. "I got a second job to help with the 'moving-outness-of-me' fund. Say," he said, clapping his hands once, "speaking of jobs, this one has actual perks!"
"Perks?" Buffy said.
"Okay. Perk, in the singular. I'm working as an usher at the Sunnydale 10," Xander said. "But -- free movies!"
"Wow," Willow said. "Last time it was free hot dogs on sticks, now it's free cheesy goodness, and next is free passes to pretty moving pictures with things that go boom!"
"You're like Santa Xander," Buffy said, then tucked in her chin and blinked at his midsection. "Only your belly's not so bowl-full-of-jelly."
"Ah, but will strange women sit on my sluttish knee and whisper all their hidden desires in my ear?" Buffy and Willow stared at him. "That came out a lot creepier than I intended."
Willow nodded. "I wondered."
Xander glanced at his watch and grimaced at the time. "So, next time I'm free, you gals up for a movie?"
"I think that's an unqualified yes," Willow said with a smile.
"Call us," Buffy ordered, and then took another huge bite.
And Xander left for his second eight-hour shift of the day secure in the knowledge that his best friends were still his best friends, and that even if all wasn't exactly right with the world, things could definitely be worse. Apocalyptically worse, for example.
Of course, what he forgot was that working sixty to eighty minimum wage slave hours a week didn't leave a guy with an astounding amount of free time or energy. Two weeks passed in a haze of serving up pies and scraping gum from theater seats, with Xander falling into bed whenever he had a few spare hours to sleep, too tired to care that Spike was lounging on his couch, watching TV and yelling about somebody named Timmy. Xander was barely home enough to notice that the biteless wonder hadn't made like a tree, and since Anya hadn't exactly been thrilled with his new schedule, she had been withholding sexual favors in protest.
"Cosmo calls it female empowerment," Anya had said over the phone.
"You read Cosmo?" Xander blurted, unaccountably frightened by the thought.
"Yes, well, it's difficult," Anya said. "Assimilating into your capitalist culture as a modern American woman with no special powers, I mean. The last time I was human, there was smelting and mead and ox-goblins! Things are very different now!"
"Anya, listen --"
"No," Anya said calmly. "Until I, as your girlfriend, become your priority, you'll get no sex."
"I don't get any points for working my tokhes off so I can afford a nice place in which to woo you?"
"You're working your tokhes off?" Anya said. "But I like your tokhes. It's very proportionate."
"Thank you. I think."
"I'm still not having sex with you," she said.
Xander had sighed and banged his head against the wall. "Truly, I'm shocked."
He hadn't seen Anya for almost as long as he'd gone without seeing Buffy and Willow, and now that he finally had a full day off from both of his jobs, Xander wanted to rectify the situation. Silly him for thinking it would only take a few simple phone calls.
He tried Anya's cell, but after a few rings, it switched over to voicemail. "Hello. You have reached the voicemail of Anya Jenkens. Please leave your name, number, and a brief message, and I will return your call if your existence matters to me. Beep."
"Hey, Ahn," Xander said quickly, "it's me. I have the day off. My day is your oyster. Call me if you want to do something. Bye." He scratched at his ankle with the toe of his other foot and dialed the number for Buffy and Willow's dorm room. It rang one and a half times before someone picked up.
"Hello?" Willow said breathlessly.
"Wills!" Xander said. "Today is free movie day. Choose your Hollywood blockbuster."
"Well, poop," Willow sighed. "I'm doing the Wicca group today. I mean, I know I said it was full of 'wanna-blessed-be' types, but Tara really wants me to be there."
"Oh," Xander said, crestfallen. "What about Buffy?"
"Oh," Willow said evasively, "she has a thing."
"Huh," Xander said, his interest piqued. "What kind of thing?"
"A thing where she is engaging in a pre-planned social activity in a small group."
It only took a moment to decode the Willow-speak. "So she's on a date with Mr. Tall, Dark and Commando?"
"Got it in one," Willow said. "Hey! What about Giles?"
"What about Giles?" Xander asked, confused. Had he missed a demonic memo?
Willow made a 'duh' noise. "He doesn't have a job, Xander. I'm sure he's free."
"Oh dear," Giles said when Xander called him. "I've actually just made plans for today with an old friend. I'm terribly sorry."
"No worries, G-man," Xander told him. "I'll see you later."
He kept working his way through the admittedly short list of people he wanted to spend time with voluntarily. He stooped to calling up one of his fellow pizza slingers, but even Smelly Andy, who used to peel and eat paint chips off the wall in 9th grade English, had something else to do today.
Apparently, everyone had a life but him. How spiffy.
But damn it, Xander had gotten enough sleep, he had the whole day off, and he felt the need to take advantage of the free-movieness of his job, because it was the only perk he'd ever gotten that didn't consist of free food. And since he was standing there in the middle of the basement wearing his last pair of clean pants and holey socks half off his feet, he saw that there was still one person he hadn't invited yet.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, and asking one of his mortal enemies to hang out was just adding insult to incredible lameness. What else was new?
Spike sat sprawled on Xander's ratty armchair, reading yesterday's newspaper and drinking fruit punch. God, he was annoying.
"Hey, Spike," Xander called out.
Spike peered over the top of the newspaper, one eyebrow raised. "What?"
"Wanna catch a movie after the sun goes down?"
Spike didn't even blink before he went back to reading the paper. "No."
"C'mon," Xander wheedled.
"Sod off," Spike said, sounding bored.
Spike raised his hand and flipped Xander the British bird. He had dark smudges on his fingers from the newsprint.
"Did I mention that I can get us in for free?"
Immediately, Spike said, "When's it start?"
"I say we shoot for the 7:15."
Spike turned a page. "Wanna get there early, right? Like watching the previews."
"Bonus," Xander said carefully, "so do I."
That was a hell of a lot easier than Xander had expected it to be, and he peered at Spike nervously, wondering what the evil bastard was planning. But Spike just sat there, intently reading... the classified section? What could a vampire need with the classified section? Used car? Real estate? Or god forbid, seeking an employment opportunity?
It wasn't that long ago that Spike was trying to stake himself, Xander recalled. When Spike had discovered his ability to beat the ever-loving tar out of demons, he'd perked up for a while, acting like the Energizer Bunnicula and driving Buffy nuts with his helpfulness.
Come to think of it, though, the new zest for mayhem hadn't lasted more than a few weeks, and Spike had taken to lurking in his basement again, chain-smoking and staring morosely at the TV. Even his insults were lacking in the luster.
"See something you like?" Spike asked archly, still staring at the newspaper.
"Yeah, you wish," Xander said automatically. He gave up trying to figure out Spike's nefarious motivation and focused on finding a shirt that didn't reek of anchovies.
Spike was a horrifying movie companion, not that Xander was particularly shocked by this. Spike snuck in a flask of alcohol and yelled things at the screen as if he expected the actors to hear him. "Heather, you idiot! Don't go in there!"
"You know, this isn't a live stage production, Spike. We can hear them, but they can't hear you."
Spike turned his head and gave Xander a speaking look. It said 'I'd like to crack open your skull like an egg and leave footprints on your brain with my dirty Docs.'
"You do that with TV, too," Xander said, not at all intimidated. "Why the hell is that?"
"When I first started watching movies, they didn't have sound, did they?" Spike said, twisting off the cap to his flask and taking another slug. "Got into the habit of making my own sound. Never bothered to stop. Oi!" he shouted at the screen. "Oh come on, Mike, are you bloody well blind?"
Xander sunk into his seat as low as he could go and snatched the metal flask from Spike's hand, coughing and wincing as the Jack Daniels attacked his throat on the way down. But the next drink went down a little more smoothly. And so did the next.
He was feeling a little warm and loose from the booze, and it was impossible to listen to Spike talk at fictional characters for any length of time without wanting to join in the wacky fun. "They brought one copy of the map? What is this, Treasure Island? X marks the spot where they get murdered horribly because they're bad planners?"
"Stupid ones are always easier to pick off," Spike said.
Xander grabbed the flask from his hand. "Remember the talk we had about sharing? And about how you never, ever should?"
"I don't care if Heather likes marshmallows," Spike said, totally ignoring him after getting his flask back, "she's still a harpy."
"They call that slime? Please. I've sneezed more convincing ectoplasm."
Spike snorted. "Your bathroom tile is scarier than this movie. They got spray stuff for that, you know."
"Ah, but Fukui-san, the spray stuff of which you speak costs mucho dinero," he said, rubbing his fingers together in the international symbol of 'these are my fingertips, have you met the thumb?'
"Not if you nick it," Spike suggested, then made a loud noise of disgust at the screen as they watched people running pell-mell through the woods, fleeing some unseen and probably nonexistent menace.
"Amateurs," Xander muttered. They shared a look, and Xander cracked a smile. Horror movies just didn't measure up with the reality of living on the Hellmouth, especially when watching them while sitting next to an actual blood-sucking fiend.
In the end, only one person threw popcorn at them, and as they walked out of the movie theater, Xander was shocked to realize that he kind of had a good time. A few days later, Spike was lounging on the couch like a giant white slug when Xander came home with a rented copy of The Sixth Sense. He was pretty sure that Spike agreed to watch the movie with him out of apathy.
Xander turned to look at Spike when the little boy on the screen whispered, "I see dead people." His huge grin must have given him away, because Spike already looked disgruntled, his cheeks sucked in and his lower lip pushed out.
"Don't even think about it, Harris."
"Oh come on!" Xander exclaimed, waving his hands. "I have to say it. It's too perfect not to." Spike growled. "You can't seriously think that I'll let you deprive me of my fun, do you? 'Cause think again, Impotent One."
"Yeah?" Spike said aggressively. "Say it and I'll --" his jaw snapped shut abruptly and he crossed his arms, slouching lower on the couch.
"Yeah, baby!" Xander said, raising his arms in a victory sign. "I see dead people! My roommate is a dead guy, and I see him! I'm seeing him right now!"
"I hate you," Spike said, scowling.
Xander patted him on the shoulder. "Yeah, I know. I hate you too."
"I get my bite back, and I'm strangling you with your own entrails," Spike vowed.
"Aww," Xander said, "you really do care."
Spike twitched and rubbed his temple with the base of his hand. "Git. I really hate you."
"Careful there," Xander said cheerfully. "You might blow a fuse."
"Shut it," Spike said. "I can't hear the bloody movie with you yapping."
"Fair enough." Xander dutifully remained quiet for a full five minutes before whispering, "I see dead people."
Spike twitched again. It truly was a thing of beauty.
Hanging out with Spike just got to be a bad habit. Mostly because he was right there and never had anything else to do, unlike everybody else in Xander's life. Well, Smelly Andy was available for social activities pretty often, but not unsurprisingly, Spike smelled a hell of a lot better than Smelly Andy. Even with the chain-smoking.
Plus, Smelly Andy had a tendency to deep-mine his nose in public, and that was just beyond the pale ale for Xander. Sure, Spike could be embarrassing in public as well as a complete asshole, but at least he practiced good hygiene.
It didn't help that Buffy and Willow conveniently had forgotten to tell him about another campus party tonight. He'd discovered this when he stopped by their room on his way home from work and read the handwritten note taped to the door. Mysteriously, it was addressed to somebody named 'Sheri.' Spending time with his girlfriend was also out of the question, because Anya currently wasn't speaking to him for some inexplicable and incredibly Anya-like reason (like forgetting their nine week sex-versary despite the fact that she was still withholding sex), which was why he was sitting at home with Spike on a Friday night.
Loserville, party of two. Undead section, please.
"Are you as bored as I am?" Xander asked from where he was sprawled across his bed. An empty carton of Chinese take-out sat on his stomach. Eventually, he would have to move before it started leaking soy sauce all over his shirt.
Spike had his knees hooked over the arm of the couch and one white hand laying palm-up on the floor next to an empty carton of crab rangoon. "Yeah. No, more. I haven't bitten anyone in months."
Xander wanted to say something pithy about having no pity for serial killers, but he was feeling too apathetic to make the effort. "God, I'm bored. We should do something."
"Like what?" Spike said.
There was a long, pathetic silence while they both desperately struggled to think of something fun to do.
"We could go play in traffic?" Xander finally suggested.
Spike didn't answer right away. "Can I lick you if you get hit by a car and bleed all over the place?"
Xander was feeling magnanimous, so he said, "Sure. Mind you, the 'ick' is implied."
"Yeah, yeah," Spike sighed. "Could use a stiff drink right about now."
Xander sat up, barely catching the empty take-out carton before it tumbled to the floor. "You know," he said, "I happen to be in possession of a fake ID and a shaky moral upbringing that compels me to use it."
"Then what are we still doing here?" Spike said, jumping up. "Move your fat ass, Harris."
"My ass isn't fat, asshole. It's proportionate," Xander protested, but he got up anyway.
Spike hustled them to the Bronze, and then started hustling the guys playing pool. It wasn't more than a half-hour later that Spike ran out of willing opponents, and he recruited Xander by shoving a pool cue into his hands and saying, "Your break, monkey boy."
Xander never managed to sink more than a ball or two each game, but he had never been a billiards aficionado, so he didn't much mind. Spike smoked and shot, and limited his conversation to calling out numbers and pockets. Xander didn't much mind that, either.
However, he did mind being thirsty. His beer mug had been about as damp as the Sahara for quite some time. He may have spotted a gazelle frolicking in the bottom about five minutes back. "Did our waitress get eaten?"
Spike paused to think about it, leaning his hip against the pool table. "May have done," he said. "Haven't spotted any other demons tonight, though."
"Huh," Xander said. He stood up and scanned the bar and looked for their waitress. He vaguely remembered that her name was Molly and that she had a shiny metal stud in her tongue, but he didn't see anybody resembling the elusive Molly bringing a refreshing carbonated beverage his way.
"Bugger," Spike said behind him. Xander turned to see that Spike had finished running the table, and now was rummaging through the pockets of his duster. He tossed a few crumpled objects over his shoulder that turned out to be empty packs of cigarettes.
"What's up, Mr. Black Lung?" Xander asked, sitting back down on his bar stool.
"Watch the table," Spike said, pulling on his coat. "I'm out of smokes." Spike turned on his heel and strode through the bar, his coat flaring out behind him like a leathery cape.
"Hey," Xander called after him. "Bring me back a beer!"
Xander couldn't blame himself for defaulting to the deer in headlights routine. He hadn't seriously been macked on by a guy since Larry had come out of the closet in high school, and even then, the real Larry had been about as grope-tastic as his jock alter ego had been into confessing his poetical inner feelings on the fifty-yard line.
Big, gay and shy, Xander could handle, because he was intimately familiar with the hallowed halls of interpersonal humiliation, if not entirely comfortable with his own manly appeal.
But big gay octopi?
"Whoa! Hey!" Xander said, heaving himself sideways on the bar stool and nearly overbalancing himself. "Hands!"
"I just want to get to know you better," the octopus said with a sleazy smile.
Okay, maybe the 'sleazy' was kind of harsh. The guy had dirty blond hair, a goatee, and he looked like he probably went to the gym. And the tanner. And wore Abercrombie & Fitch everything, and Xander was not about to be some rich college stud's low-rent, townie boy-toy, and okay, maybe Xander had some outstanding issues here.
And where the hell was Spike, anyway?
"Listen, Buster," Xander said, clutching his pool cue to his chest like a security blanket, "I think you've got the wrong guy."
"Oh, come on," the guy said, smiling wider. "You playing hard to get, is that it?"
Xander dodged another game of duck-duck-goose. "Oh, I'm not playing anything, backstreet boy."
"Let me buy you a drink."
"Thanks, but no thanks," Xander said. "I make my own money with blood, sweat, and marinara sauce." Xander craned his neck around to look for the swish of black and the flash of platinum that always made Spike identifiable in a crowd. The towering ego roughly the size of Texas was also hard to miss, but as he scanned the bar, Spike and his ego were nowhere to be found. Xander sighed in irritation, and then made an undignified yodeling noise, pried the hand off his crotch, and leapt from his bar stool.
"What's your deal, man?" the guy demanded.
"What's my deal?" Xander said, waving his arms around like an umpire and nearly clocking himself in the head with his pool cue. "What's my deal? I'm not gay!" Xander spun when he heard someone chuckling behind him, a low, evil undead kind of chuckle that could only be "Spike!"
Spike took a long, suggestive drag off his cigarette, and then squinted at Xander as he exhaled curlicues of smoke. "Find a new," long, nasty pause where Spike tapped his pink tongue against his bottom lip, "partner while I was out?"
"No!" Xander said, following it immediately with, "What took you so long?"
"Keep your shirt on, you great poof," he said. Spike handed off Xander's mug of beer and held up a new pack of cigarettes in explanation, puffing away at the one hanging from his lips. "My turn?"
"Your break," Xander said. He watched Spike circle the pool table once before taking aim at the balls Xander had racked about fifteen interminable minutes ago. The balls clacked, and Spike prowled around the table again, shrugging out of his leather coat.
Sometimes Xander was grateful that Spike was the poster child for immortal ADD. He'd toss off a handful of insults, and then, ooh, shiny! Problem being, of course, that he'd always come back like a stray tomcat looking for somebody to maul.
"Listen," came the annoyed voice of the guy with many groping talents, "if you aren't interested, why don't you just say so?"
"He's shy. Likes to be," Spike said, running his hand down his front to cup his crotch, "seduced."
"Shut up, Spike," Xander said through clenched teeth. He adopted the tone he used with children under five and small yappy dogs. "And I think the fact that I'm not gay would imply that I'm, gee, lacking in interest."
The guy glanced at Spike, who was bent over the pool table and lining up a shot, black shirt too tight on the triangle of his back, and his bicep jumping as he pulled back the pool cue. "Uh huh," the guy said.
"Wait a minute, he's the one wearing eyeliner and nail polish, not me," Xander protested. "I date women. I have sex with women."
"I've had sex with several women! Hot women! With breasts!" Xander said.
"So do you want to fuck, or not?" said the asshole in Abercrombie.
"I'm not gay!" Xander insisted. "I'll -- I'll prove it."
Because octopus boy looked so disbelieving that Xander was struck by the mad impulse to prove him wrong, so he grabbed Spike by the T-shirt just as the vampire was reaching for his beer mug. Xander yanked him forward and mashed his mouth against Spike's, and kissing a man -- not to mention a vampire he hated -- was just as bad as he thought it would be.
Until Spike recovered from his surprise and opened his mouth. Inside, it was wet and slippery, tasting tinny from blood and cheap pilsner. Just as Xander got used to the feeling, Spike tilted his head and took over with sharp, thorough stabs of his tongue, like he was licking every inch of Xander's mouth and wanted more. The kiss turned hard and messy when Spike started sucking and biting, and making hungry noises in his throat, because Xander decided he liked that a lot, and sucked right back.
Sweet merciful Zeus, Spike could kiss. And, hey, grind. Grinding was good. Really good. Xander didn't know a guy's hips could move that way.
It wasn't until Xander realized that he was making those high, moany noises he always made when he was in desperate need of getting his dick out of his pants right now that he was in trouble.
Oh god. Oh god no.
He pulled back from Spike, breathing raggedly, and didn't understand why Spike was still pressed against him from hip to knee until he looked down and saw that his hands were betraying him by refusing to let go of Spike's shirt and jeans. When he glanced back up, he saw that Spike looked rumpled and smug. A little confused, too, but mostly there was smugness.
Of course he looked smug. Spike always looked smug. Especially with red lips, a crumpled T-shirt, and eyelids at half-mast.
The fact that he thought a guy could prove his heterosexuality by kissing Spike and not getting turned on, well, Xander was discovering that this wasn't so much a heterosexual thought.
If only it was possible to run away from himself. Xander wished he could make like Speedy Gonzalez, pronto.
"See?" Xander said weakly. "Not gay."
Of course, octopus boy still didn't get the hint, because his expression said that he was pondering something Xander definitely wasn't pondering. Something that started with 'ménage' and ended with 'trois'. "So... are you two exclusive?"
"Sod off," Spike suggested, taking a few threatening steps forward. The guy finally raised his hands and backed away, turning to disappear into the crowd. Xander braced himself for the mother of all tauntings as he returned to the table, but all Spike did was reach for his beer and say, "Your turn."
Holy big wiggins, Batman. What the hell? Did Amnesty International call while Xander was distracted? This was the kind of material that could make Xander the butt of a running joke for years.
Xander shuffled over to the pool table and totally scratched the cue ball, and then he shuffled back to his seat while Spike gleefully murdered the rest of the stripes.
He had the horrible, nagging feeling that Spike was going to hoard this doozy in order to spring it on his friends at the worst possible time. That was what Spike did, wasn't it? Because he was an evil bastard. With an evil tongue.
It must have been a fluke, Xander told himself the next day while blasting dried gum with freeze spray and scraping it off the chairs and floors of theater four. Had to be a fluke, because no other explanation made sense.
After all, Anya hadn't been supplying him with mind-bending orgasms for weeks, and he'd been working more hours than was strictly sane or legal. The one time he'd tried to spank the monkey in the shower recently hadn't worked out due to someone flushing a toilet upstairs, which sent an arctic blast of cold water over him and his manly parts just as things were getting good.
By the time he'd finished shrieking like a woman and tearing the shower curtain off the rod, little Xander had long since lost interest in continuing.
A nineteen-year-old guy who had gone without sex as much as Xander had recently probably would get hard if anything rubbed against him the right way. Right? If linoleum could make him think about sex, having his tongue sucked rocketed the sex-thoughts into the stratosphere.
Not to mention that Spike was really talented at tongue-sucking, and well he should be, what with all the years he must have been practicing. And Xander totally wasn't going to think about that, because there was nothing but bad there.
Plus, Spike didn't seem to be bothered at all by the guy-on-guy action, but maybe that was because vampires were giant slutzillas. Still, it was a pretty good indication that kissing Spike had been a total fluke, and that Spike was a total flu-pire. Something that sounded like a burning sensation of illness, which Xander decided was wildly appropriate.
Anyway, it wasn't like he could test the theory, since walking up to guys and asking to play tonsil-hockey with them more often than not would result in getting the crap beaten out of him. Pain was not Xander's friend, and frankly, he was just fine with being a gigantic coward right now.
This never would have happened if he hadn't come home one day to find a dejected Spike wearing his clothes. Vampires were monsters, and they weren't supposed to have cute ankles and bony knees.
Fluke. Fluke fluke fluke. He chanted it to himself all day, and that night he ended up dreaming about giant fluke worms attacking him and Larry in the locker room of Sunnydale High. Xander decided that he was probably overthinking things just a little bit.
So he went to work, he came home, and he tried not to act like a total spaz whenever Spike was around, because the vampire had a way of burrowing into any discernable weaknesses like a carpenter ant. After three days of pretending everything was normal, Xander got into the habit of actually believing it a little, and the next time Spike mentioned there was a movie he wanted to see, they headed on out to the theater like two utterly platonic roommates who had never entertained thoughts of playing naked Twister together.
Five minutes in, Spike loudly and rightfully proclaimed the movie 'pants', but it was free, so they stayed and watched it anyway. They were arguing by the time they hit the sidewalk, the conversation ranging all over the place. Whether Marvel was better than DC (a draw, because nobody in their right minds could choose between Wolverine and John Constantine). Whether Celine Dion was actually demonic (not that there was any real doubt), and by association, if there was a Hellmouth in Canada (yes, cleverly concealed in Saskatchewan). Xander was busy extolling the virtues of cucumber sandwiches to the blooming onion freak when Spike suddenly stopped walking.
"Oh hell," Spike said, grabbing Xander's sleeve and pulling him out from underneath the street light.
"Hey," Xander protested, and Spike clapped his hand over Xander's mouth. His fingers smelled like cigarette smoke and raspberry fruit punch.
"Soldier boys," Spike whispered.
And suddenly Xander could see the dark shapes moving through the graveyard next to the road, and when he nodded, Spike dropped his hand and looked around frantically.
"And of course there's no bloody cover," Spike muttered. There were no cars parked along the street, no convenient trees, and the Initiative commandos were already between them and the nearest crypt. The half-moon was bright overhead, and there was absolutely nowhere for Spike to hide.
And hey, the commandos had just spotted them.
Well, this was something of a pickle.
He turned to ask Spike if he had any bright ideas, but before he could, Spike said, "Kiss me."
"Buh?" Xander said, because clearly his hearing was failing.
"Kiss me," Spike repeated urgently. He looked like a stranger drawn in a comic book, cheekbones sharp in the golden-white light from the sodium lamps, his eyebrows like slashes from a fountain pen.
Xander boggled at him. "What the hell are you -- mmfff!"
Spike jerked Xander forward by the front of his shirt and planted one on him, backing up to lean against the metal pole of a street sign. The kiss was wet and lewd, Spike's mouth wide open, and god, Xander bet Spike could tie cherry stems with his tongue.
Spike stopped kissing him for a moment to look over Xander's shoulder at the commandos coming toward them, and Xander moved from boggling to goggling. His lips were wet and tingling, and as Spike pulled him closer, he hazily thought about how different a guy felt against him. Solid and muscley where he was used to soft and pliant, and he didn't have to bend down very much to get at Spike's mouth, and gee, wasn't that nice?
The sloppy, liquid noises they were making went straight to Xander's dick. Spike shoved his thigh between Xander's legs and rubbed against him with sinuous arches of his back. Xander whimpered into Spike's mouth, and somehow his hands found their way up the back of Spike's shirt, tracing up the bumps of his spine and then pressing them flat on Spike's shoulder blades. Spike threaded the fingers of one hand through Xander's hair and tugged, mouthing the skin under his jaw.
Xander moaned and blindly sought Spike's mouth, teeth sliding and scraping against his lips, Spike's slick tongue doing all kinds of nasty things, and holy Hannah, Xander wanted to know what that mouth could do for his cock.
A dog barked down the street, and they jerked apart, Xander's hands hanging up on Spike's T-shirt. For the space of three crazy-pounding heartbeats, looking at Spike's face was like looking in a mirror. Denial. Outrage. Confusion.
Seriously fucking turned-on.
The mirror quickly blanked into an opaque white, Spike casually glancing around the empty cemetery. There were no commandos in sight. Xander had no idea how long they'd been distracted, but hey, the score went to the ambiguously gay duo for chasing off the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' guys.
Oh god, this had to stop happening.
"Close call, that," Spike said, lightly slapping him on the back. "Thanks, mate."
Legs wobbly, and sporting enough wood for a good caber tossing championship, Xander said, "Hey, no problem."
No, no problem here. Just Apollo Xander losing all contact with ground control in Houston.
His desperate need to talk must have come across, because when he called Willow the next day, she immediately agreed to meet him for ice cream that afternoon. Willow kept glancing at him as they stood in line, and upgraded her worried expression to an anxious look when he ordered the triple fudge chocolate chunk with a chocolate waffle cone.
He guided them to a seat in the back corner of the shop. Now that they were here, the violent need to spill his guts to somebody lost the battle to the sheer terror of actually saying the words aloud and making them real. He paid undue attention to his melting ice cream cone, and Willow let him get away with it for a few minutes.
She finally took a deep breath and said, "So."
Xander stared at her from across the booth. He couldn't ever remember not knowing Willow, and even if she had been busy lately, she was always there for him through thick and thin, demons and slime, and mouths of hell opening up beneath their feet. She'd lent him her crayons, and he'd let her borrow his GI Joes. There wasn't much about Xander that Willow didn't already know, and what he hadn't told her, he would be willing to bet that she had guessed most of it.
He knew that he wasn't the greatest at keeping secrets, but if she had already guessed this one, Xander would eat his shoes.
"Okay," Xander said. "I need to tell you something, but I'm not sure where to start."
Willow nodded. "The beginning is a good place to start. Or there's in medias res, and ooh! Sometimes I like it when stories begin at the end. You pick."
Xander grimaced. "Right now, choices bad things are, Wills."
She looked up at him from where she was rescuing dripped ice cream from her knuckles. Willow tongue used to send him into a heart-pounding orbit of prurience. Right now, he was so tangled up in his own issues that he just observed with amusement that she had all the primary colors represented: red hair, fuzzy yellow sweater, and tongue stained blue from her ice cream.
"I have confidence in you," Willow said, smiling a little, her head tilted.
It gave Xander the extra push he needed. "You know how evil-you from that alternate universe was kind of... evil?"
Willow peered at him a little worriedly. "Yeah?"
"And also kind of... gay?"
Willow's eyes widened a fraction. "Yeah?"
Xander gathered his courage, and unfortunately found that none of it was Dutch. "I think I might be -- y'know."
Willow sat up abruptly. "Evil?" she squeaked.
"No! No no no!" he said, and then frowned. "I mean, probably not. I think I'd be more of an evil underachiever."
"Whew!" Willow said on a long exhale. "Sorry. Residual Angel issues."
"I think I'm kind of gay," Xander blurted.
Willow froze, the ice cream cone halfway to her open mouth. "Oh. Oh! Okay. Um. Those aren't residual Angel issues, too, are they?"
Xander recoiled. "No!"
"Still just checking," Willow said.
"I only said he was attractive the once!" And dear lord, he wasn't going to let his mind go there. Ever.
"Sorry," she said meekly, hunching her shoulders.
Xander nodded. "I'll let it go for now, if only because if we continue this discussion, I'll need to bleach my brain."
Willow rallied herself, sitting up and leaning closer to him with her elbows on the table. "Okay. So, gay. Since when?" Willow asked anxiously. "I mean, I'm your best friend. Shouldn't I know this already? Without you telling me?"
Xander looked away and watched the girl behind the counter dig up a scoop of mint chocolate chip. "You've been pretty wrapped up in your own stuff lately."
"But I would've --" Willow said, then stopped, her shoulders heaving in a sigh. "I'm a cruddy friend."
"Hey," Xander said wryly, "I think I've been happily repressing this for years, Will. You're not a bad friend for not noticing. Even I didn't notice. That was kind of the point."
And now that he was thinking about it, the only other person he knew who had loudly expressed his interest in girls as much as Xander had was big gay Larry. Probably not mere coincidence there. Crap.
Willow nervously played with the floppy bow on the side of her hat. "So why now? Notice it, I mean."
Xander hesitated for a long moment before he said, "I may have kissed someone."
Willow's eyes opened wide and she flattened her hands on the table to lean even closer. "A male someone?"
Xander looked around the ice cream shop again. "Yeah."
"You had smoochies with a guy?" Willow said loudly. "Who? Do I know him?"
"Willow," he hissed, feeling his ears go hot.
"You don't want to tell me?" she asked. Willow pouted and blinked a lot, and Xander knew that he had hurt her feelings.
He squirmed. "Yes. I mean, no. I mean... it's complicated. And I kind of need somebody's unbiased opinion about the liking guys thing before we get into specifics. Please?"
Mostly because the specifics made him look nuttier than a Nutty Bar.
Willow screwed up her face in concentration. "Okay. Um. You kissed a guy and you liked it?"
Xander clasped his hands together under the table, his grip so tight his knuckles were already aching. "Yeah, and it was like a chorus of angels singing 'Hallelujah' every time. Only with soft-core gay porn instead of halos, and I am so going to hell for thinking that."
"Every time," Willow said, still concentrating on him. "So you've kissed this guy more than once."
"And how," Xander said absently.
It was Willow's turn to blush, her mouth hanging open. "Okay. You're... huh."
Xander nodded in understanding. "I have wandered off the straight path and into the crooked streets of Laredo, my friend. I'm not in Kansas anymore, although I may have to go back to apply for my Friend of Dorothy card."
"Ooh, what about Anya?" Willow asked, bouncing in her seat. "I mean, my concern for her is merely a hypocritical front to get you to discuss your feelings, but I think I deserve brownie points for my efforts to conceal my dislike of your ex-demony significant other because I'm trying to be a better friend than I have been lately."
"She's not my significant other," Xander protested.
"Then what is she?" Willow said, her face open and curious.
Xander opened his mouth to answer her, and then realized he had no clue. Not really. Yes, he cared about Anya, but right now, it felt like his life had been dumped into a Scrabble bag, shaken up, and that he'd drawn nothing but consonants. Which wouldn't be a problem if he was playing the game in, say, Polish.
He picked at a hangnail. The skin tore in a tiny line of pain up to his first knuckle.
"I'll let you know when I figure that out," he said.
"Here's the thing," Xander said, coming up from behind to fall into step with Willow as she exited her last class of the day.
"Oh, hi," she said, obviously startled and clutching her books to the peace sign on her pink sweater.
"I've barely seen Anya in weeks, right?" he said, jumping right into the conversation out of the very real fear that, given the choice, he would never begin it.
Willow nodded. "Okay."
"I don't miss her as much as I think I'm supposed to," Xander said, dodging a huge orange backpack at one o'clock. "That can't be a good sign, right?"
She shrugged. "It depends, I guess."
"I don't know, Will. I mean, dating her is okay, but the thought of settling down and spending the rest of my life with Anya fills me with a holy terror heretofore unknown to mankind."
Willow stopped short in the middle of the hallway and frowned, and a guy a baseball cap and saggy jeans nearly plowed into her backpack. "She hasn't brought it up yet, right? I mean, the marriage thing?"
"No," Xander said, "not yet, but I can see it coming in the distance, like a semi on a long, flat stretch of road. Driver's had a long haul, he's sleepy. We keep getting closer and closer, until we're about to pass each other on the road, but then semi-driver-guy falls asleep, and BOOM! I'm so much pancake Xander. Married, miserable, and father to a bunch of rugrats I never see because I work two crappy jobs to keep them all in shoes and Ho-Hos. Anya, meanwhile, will be having a torrid affair with the pool boy, because she has needs and I'm never there to meet them."
Willow furrowed her cute little brow. "You've put thought into this."
"I may not be living up to my potential career-wise," Xander said, "but I am the king of catastrophes."
"Maybe you're just afraid of commitment," she offered.
"Yes, true," he said, opening the door for Willow and following her outside into the sunshine. "Also up for consideration is the fact that I zing for members of my own sex. A heavy metal, rock'n'roll kind of zing, whereas my girl-like zing is the easy-listening station."
Willow's mouth formed an 'o' shape, like she was finally getting what Xander had been saying all this time. "Wow, that's -- huh."
"Oh yeah," he said. "It's like an epiphany times a bazillion, is what it is."
"You need to talk to Anya," Willow said.
Xander shuddered. "Couldn't you just schedule me for, oh I don't know, rectal surgery instead? I think it would be more fun. Plus, they'd give me drugs. The good kind. And maybe one of those plastic butt-doughnuts."
She wrinkled her nose. "Xander..."
He shoved his hands into his pockets and turned his face toward the sun. "I know. I have to tell her what's going on, I know that. She's a great girl, and she doesn't deserve to be jerked around while I'm Existential Crisis Guy."
"Xander," Willow said again, but this time with a tone.
"Stop channeling your mom," he told her.
Willow twisted her hands together and looked guilty. "Sorry. It's just -- I don't know what to say."
Xander squeezed her arm. "That's okay. Neither do I."
Conversations with Anya rarely went well. She was a strange girl, blunt like a blunt object, and prone to muttering insults under her breath in some demony language when she was annoyed.
This conversation was going less well than usual. In fact, it was going so less well than usual that Xander was pondering the various forms of euthanasia at his disposal. The nail gun was a possibility, since he couldn't remember how to assemble his M-16. Then there was hanging himself from the support beams, but with his luck, he'd pick a weak beam and end up collapsing the kitchen floor, causing the refrigerator to squish his head in, which would at least accomplish his aims.
Or he could just wait until dark and take an unarmed stroll through the nearest cemetery, but that would probably just result in him getting saved at the last minute by a very irate Buffy, and it reminded Xander that there were worse things than this awful conversation.
"You can't be gay," Anya was saying reasonably. "You have the fashion sense of Gene Shalit and all the interior decorating flair of that cartoon character you like so much with the strange, bulbous head."
Xander closed his eyes for a moment, grinding his teeth, one fist clenched on his knee. "Anya, I think the part that really matters about my apparent gayness is whether or not I like dick," he said. Because he wasn't incredibly stupid, he didn't mention anything about Anya's own fashion sense being highly questionable, what with the paisley jeans and platform sneakers.
"Who's Dick?" Anya asked.
Xander did a spit-take of his glass of chocolate milk, his ears turning red as he wiped at the spreading stain on the knee of his jeans. "What?!"
"Dick," Anya said. "Who is he, and why is important that you like him?"
"Are you serious?" Xander blurted.
Anya pouted. "You're mocking me again."
Xander sighed. "Okay. Liking dick," he said, "as in jonesing for cock, driving stick, a long for the schlong, hankerin' for the summer sausage --"
Anya rolled her eyes to indicate she'd finally got the point. "Do you?"
How much did he not want to have this conversation? Let him count the eleventy-billion ways.
"Yeah, well," Xander said grudgingly, "my brain is kind of frozen in terror by the idea, but my body definitely insists, 'please sir, can I have some more?'"
Anya had the head-tilt of confusion. "Why?"
Xander groaned. "Why do you like it?"
"Oh," she said, and sat down disconsolately on Spike's armchair. "This is happening because I wasn't giving you enough sex, isn't it?"
"No," Xander said immediately, appalled. "I went without sex plenty often before we met, Ahn. It didn't turn me gay then. I mean -- you know what I mean."
"But you're a Viking in the sack, Xander. Better, even, considering how few Vikings actually were considerate enough to give me many orgasms," Anya insisted. "Are you certain you like men? It would be such a waste!"
Xander stared at her. "I feel like I should break up with you now."
"Why would you do that?" Anya demanded in surprise. "I can buy a strap-on."
The mental image was both titillating and terrifying, but after a few dizzying moments of picturing Anya fucking him up the ass with a fake plastic penis, terror won the battle. He wanted to crawl under the bed and commune with the dust bunnies and bogeymen for a while.
"I still think I should break up with you."
"Whatever for?" she said.
Xander looked at her as if an alien was going to burst out of her forehead. "Because I'm confused and don't know what I want, and that's not fair to you?"
Anya nodded. "This is exactly why I refuse to acknowledge your feelings. You're confused, and I can wait. Not forever, mind you," she said, leaning forward with an indulgent smile. "The biological clock will start going tick-tock before you know it!" She patted his knee. "Really, take your time."
"Anya, I don't think you understand --"
"Of course I understand," she said. "Sexual experimentation is a natural part of --"
"This isn't an experiment!" he said loudly, standing up and wheeling his arms. "I'm breaking up with you. I can't be the person that you want me to be, okay? I don't want a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence and two point five children, Anya. I don't know what I want to be when I finally grow up, I'm having sexy thoughts about guys, nothing's the same anymore, and I like you too much to cheat on you, and this is why I'm breaking up with you!"
Anya stared at him from her perch on the armchair, her smile placid. "I refuse to acknowledge it."
He deflated. "What?"
"If I don't acknowledge it, then it didn't happen," she said. "And if it didn't happen, then no one will be forced to curse you. I still have contacts in the vengeance business, you know. They like to take initiative."
Xander sat down on the edge of the bed again, his head in his hands. "I'm already feeling plenty cursed."
"Oh," Anya assured him cheerfully, "my curses were much worse than this."
After a long moment of uncomfortable silence, Xander said, "I care about you, Anya. I really do."
She jumped up from the chair. "Not acknowledging!" She covered her ears with her hands and sang loudly off-key as she walked across the room and up the stairs.
Xander watched her go. Sometimes, he really kind of hoped that a camera crew would come out of the bathroom and tell him that he was on Candid Camera, because life wasn't supposed to be this weird, even with Buffy around.
The door was unlocked when Xander arrived at Giles' apartment, so he waltzed inside and put the pizza boxes on the counter, and then poked his head into the refrigerator to locate a tasty beverage.
"By all means, make yourself at home," Giles said behind him, sounding all British and peeved that some rogue pizza delivery guy had the gall to invade his sovereign territory during tea-time. When Xander straightened up and grinned over his shoulder, Giles blinked and the disgruntled look disappeared from his face. "Oh, it's you."
"I gotta say," Xander said, choosing a Fresca and shoving closed the refrigerator door with his heel, "your enthusiasm underwhelms. Is there a pow-wow tonight that nobody told me about?"
"We did ring you," Giles said, his expression changing into the same one he'd worn when Xander had tricked him into eating a handful of Sour Patch Kids. "We left a message with Spike. Clearly he didn't deliver it."
"In the interests of fairness, I haven't been home all day, so it's not like Fangless could have told me even if he remembered to. Besides, not delivering my phone messages is a pretty lame level of evil, and thus eminently mockable."
Giles sniffed. "He might have rung you at work."
"Right," Xander said, popping open his soda and slurping a mouthful. "Me in the car delivering steaming hot pies all across the 'dale, and with no cell phone. All Spike would have to do is try every pay phone in town or call up all of its citizens asking if they'd just seen a greasy young man with pepperoni stuck to his shoes. On second thought, don't mention that to him. Spike's a menace when he's bored, and I don't wanna get stuck with the phone bill."
Willow wandered into the kitchen. She was wearing a sweater that looked like she had killed and skinned a Muppet to make it, and now Xander would never look at a Tickle Me Elmo the same way again.
"Hey," she said.
"Hey yourself," Xander replied.
Buffy poked her head around the corner. "Howdy, stranger!" Her attention and hands zoomed in on the pizza, and then she stood by Xander and kicked at his foot with a strappy pink shoe. "Did you get our message?"
"Again, no," Xander said. "I was finishing off my shift and I saw the G-man's address pop up, so I volunteered to do one last delivery run. What's up?"
"Research party," Willow said.
Giles sighed. "Yes, apparently there's a nest of demons near Mount Ever-Rest on Bodega Boulevard."
Buffy wrinkled her nose, and it made her look about five years old. "I got slimed last night on patrol. I was all gross. And slimy."
"Riley was with her. Patrol date," Willow explained as Buffy zoomed back toward the pizza. She leaned in close and spoke in low tones. "So, did you, you know?"
Xander nodded. "Oh, we talked."
"How'd it go?"
Xander watched Buffy eat pizza and talk at Giles about the demons, her indignance at being slimed causing Giles to remove his glasses and wipe them on the hem of his turtleneck in a record-breaking six point two seconds. "It was the epitome of snafu."
"Oh," Willow said unhappily. "What happened?"
"I broke up with her," he said. "Only, thing is, she's refusing to acknowledge it."
Willow raised her eyebrows in disbelief. "Huh?"
Xander nodded, flinging his hand into the air. "Exactly!"
"I have no useful advice for this kind of situation. I mean, my significant other kind of disappeared in the middle of the night, and yours won't go away, which makes us sort of like a pair of diametric book ends, and I think I'll stop talking now," she said, putting on her brave little toaster face. Willow patted him on the shoulder. "You're on your own."
"Thanks ever so much," Xander said, following her into the living room after Buffy and Giles. They settled down on chairs, floors, and couches, and Giles distributed the big, dusty books of demony lore. Xander snagged a couple of pieces of pizza despite the fact that it smelled completely unappetizing these days.
"So, scarce guy, what have you been up to?" Buffy asked. She was on her belly on the floor, propped up by her elbows.
"All work, no play, Xander a dull boy makes," he said, slowly paging through a book he suspected that he had already gone through easily a half-dozen times in the last year alone.
"But you don't come over anymore," Buffy said. "Why not? Do we stink?"
"Communal showers getting you down, Buff?" Xander said, and that became an automatic segue into, "Mm. Girls showering. Naked girls in the shower."
And, well, Xander did still like the mental image of girls showering, because hey, boobies! But now he also had naked guys in his mental shower stall, too. Very naked and erect guys, and thank god he had a lap of big book.
"Earth to Xander," Buffy said, waving a hand in his face.
Xander unsuccessfully tried to stop picturing Spike naked. "Ground control to Major Tom?"
"We never see you," she said, exasperated. "Is there something wrong?"
"No," Xander said, shrugging, "I've just been Working Guy, that's all."
She sat up and crossed her arms. "Delivering pizza is more important than your friends?"
"Hey, my phone hasn't exactly been ringing off the hook, Buff," he said.
And there came the pout again. "Well, I'm busy. College student by day, slayer of vampires by night, remember?"
Xander was trying not to get annoyed, and failing spectacularly. "Well, at least you've got that whole 'chosen one' mystical destiny thing going for you. The only directions I have on my life are where the best places are in Sunnydale for health code violations, and that Oxnard is a smelly town and not a place I care to return to in this lifetime."
"Hey," Buffy said, "it's not like I chose to be the Slayer."
"Oh, and I chose to deliver pizza to greater Sunnydale?" he demanded.
Buffy just rolled her eyes and turned her body away at an angle, the way she always did when she knew she was right right right and the person she was arguing with was wrong wrong wrong.
It stung. Mostly because she was kind of right, but it was one of those things you just didn't say.
"You know, I'm a little tired of you guys thinking I'm some kind of buttmonkey slacker who sits around all day watching The Price Is Right," Xander said, giving up the pretense of researching.
"We certainly don't --" Giles said.
"Hey!" Willow said at the same time, anxiously looking back and forth at him and Buffy.
"I'm the only employed person in this room," Xander said. "A job that I go to every day, where I spend hours doing repetitive, nasty tasks, and hand in a time-card at the end of the week to get my piddly, pitiful paycheck." Buffy muttered something under her breath, but Xander plowed on with his speechifying. "And I have not one but two real jobs, and yeah, I've been working a lot of hours lately so I can pay the bills for my car and food and the rent my dad's charging me. And if I want to save anything so I can move out of the oh-so-high-class basement I've been living in with my mom hollering offers of fruit punch whenever somebody comes over, I pretty much have to work sixteen hours a day, okay?"
"Hey, it's not like the world will end if you don't go to work and sweep up popcorn, unlike my job," Buffy said defensively.
"Oh yeah," Xander said, "like my crappy life can compete with an apocalypse. Thanks. I feel so significant now."
"Oh do shut up, both of you," Giles interrupted.
"Um," Willow said, "I think I found the demon." She looked down at the book she was holding and then shut it with a bang, blushing enough that Xander figured she'd accidentally paused on one of the porny pictures. "Or not."
They all stared at each other for a minute too long, and then took turns looking away nervously. Xander knew that he'd probably apologize to Buffy later and explain to her that she'd just stepped on a raw nerve. But he probably wouldn't make that apology today. Despite the fact that he considered self-deprecation an art form, it was another thing entirely when you found out that your friends thought you were kind of a loser. It required wound-nursing, and perhaps some time on the couch watching bad kung fu movies.
"Well," Giles said to break the tense silence. It didn't work.
The door slammed open and a black-clad, smoky whirlwind blew inside, plopping onto the love seat next to Xander and tossing a wallet onto his lap. Xander tried not to notice the proximity of Spike's hip and thigh to his own. It was sort of like trying to ignore a tsunami.
"Pressie for you."
"Aww, Spike, you shouldn't have," Xander said. For a moment, he thought it was his own, but it couldn't be, because he could feel a wallet-shaped lump in his back pocket.
Buffy put her fists on her hips in her superhero pose. It might have been more impressive if she hadn't been wearing a shirt with pink ruffles. "Tell me you didn't steal that."
Xander began poking through the leather wallet. "Yeah, well, he's an amoral, evil, undead son of a -- whoa nelly!" He stared at the variety of lint-covered IDs stuck under the plastic panels, and suddenly felt a little warm and fuzzy.
Oh yeah, he needed therapy like Buffy needed pointy stakes.
Spike smirked, and sank into a sprawl so loose it was as if his bones had suddenly disappeared. His thigh was now so close that Xander could feel the outer seam of his jeans. "Thought you'd like that," Spike said.
His sense of moral superiority slunk off to have drinks with his sense of fair play. "This is so cool," he said, going through the rest of the wallet belonging to asshole octopus boy -- aka "Eugene Wolodarski" -- from that night at the Bronze. "Rock on!" Xander lifted his hand in a high five, but Spike just raised a 'too cool for you' eyebrow. Xander changed the direction of his hand to smack the back of Spike's head, but the vampire easily dodged him.
"You're mugging people now?" Buffy demanded, looking at them both with a suspicious glint in her eye. Willow and Giles seemed to be ignoring them all studiously, their heads bent together over a book.
"'Course not, you moron," Spike scoffed, giving his temple a hard poke with his index finger. "Still got this hardware in my head, don't I? Picked the wanker's pocket."
"So, what, you've got a five-finger light touch, or did you distract him?" Xander asked, and then had a terrible thought. "Tell me you didn't," Xander wiggled his hand like a sexy trout, "y'know."
Spike snorted, staring at him with this sideways 'you think Chaos Demons are sexy, don't you?' look. "Oh come on. I have some standards."
"Last Saturday you told me that you played poker with kittens as currency," Xander said.
Spike blinked at him. "So?"
"Kittens," Xander said again, as if repetition would hammer home the wrongness. He knew better; Spike wasn't the kind of guy who learned anything unless he wanted to, and even then, it took more than the usual ton of bricks.
"Does anyone want to tell me what's going on?" Buffy said, looming over them with a cranky expression on her face.
Xander froze. "Um, no?"
Buffy tilted her head. "Oh, I think you want to share with the rest of the class, Xander. When did you two get to be all buddy-buddy?"
"Hello," Spike drawled, "roommates? Speaking of," he said, nudging Xander with his elbow, "we're out of those chocolate biscuit things."
"You evil bastard," Xander said, "I just bought that box."
Spike shrugged and tucked his white hands into his coat pockets. "I got bored."
Xander thumped his head against the back of the love seat. "That's it. There's gotta be something that's the vampiric equivalent of Ritalin, doesn't there?"
Buffy's eyes narrowed as she watched them, but before she could say anything, Willow called out, "I think we found the demon. For real this time, I mean."
They all crowded around the book on Giles' desk and took a gander at the picture of the slime demon. Spike made a funny noise with a bunch of glottal stops.
"Gesundheit," Xander said.
Giles looked vaguely shocked, tugging at the high neck of his shirt. "You know of," he said, making the same funny noise as Spike, "demons?"
"Well, yeah," Spike said, like Giles had just asked him if he knew the alphabet. "Nest of 'em moved into that cemetery with the incredibly stupid name over by that Happy Burger place, last week sometime."
"Ah," Giles said sourly. "Did you ever think to share this information?"
"The delusion that I actually like you people -- it warms the cockles of my unbeating heart, it truly does," Spike said, shaking his head.
Buffy smacked an axe against Spike's chest, the metal contacting with a meaty thump. "How 'bout this? You help me kill the slimy things, or I stake you."
Spike twirled the axe a few times, and then shrugged, easily swayed as always by the prospect of hitting something. "All right."
They armed up and filed out the door, Buffy and Spike ranging ahead, Giles in the middle doing his Watcher thing, leaving Xander and Willow to bring up the rear.
Willow cleared her throat a couple of times in a row. Xander rested the crossbow against his shoulder, and casually said, "Sounds like you're getting a nasty cold, Wills."
She gave him a look that was both impatient and reluctant, and Xander suddenly knew what the topic of conversation was going to be.
"I think you have a type," Willow said, and yep, he was right on the money. This was going to suck big hoo-ha.
"Do we have to do this now?" Xander asked.
"You have a type," Willow plowed on, "I mean, look at your history."
Xander winced. "Let's not and say we did."
"Buffy? Cordelia? Faith? Anya?" Willow said. "Face it, buster, you like 'em strong, weird, and argumentative."
Unable to dissect Willow's own relationship history because she was still dealing with the Oz hypersensitivity, Xander responded with, "So where does that put you in the weird and argumentative equation?"
"Resolve face," Willow threatened, pointing at herself. It was, indeed, her face of resolve. Crap.
"You play dirty pool," he said, kicking a rock off the sidewalk.
"The dirtiest," Willow agreed. "So if you have a girl-type, I figure that your guy-type would be like your girl-type, and you say that you've been smooching a guy, and now you're oddly friendly with Spike, who is also a guy, and --"
"I hate my life," Xander groaned.
"-- I mean, isn't Spike basically Cordelia with a penis?" Willow said. Her eyes went wide, and she pressed her lips together as if she was trying to keep herself from blurting more embarrassing thoughts.
Xander dragged his hand down his face. "Hysterical amnesia would be so good right now."
"Are you nuts?!" Willow demanded.
"Yes," he said. "The magic syphilis gave me brain damage. That must be it."
"Okay, right, that wasn't so alterna-supportive," she said. Willow touched his arm. "Xander, you should be careful --"
A freaky scream split the air, and Xander gladly abandoned the conversation to run through the gates of Mount Ever-Rest cemetery, skidding to a stop when he saw Buffy and Spike fending off three big slimy things, each about seven feet tall, with two legs, four arms ending in claws, and dripping slime the color of infected snot. Spike and Buffy were twirling, jumping, kicking, his axe and her sword flashing through the air. Giles charged in to help and got in a few good blows before one of the slime demons walloped him and Giles flew backward, conking his head on a tombstone.
He spared a quick glance for Willow, and then flung himself into the fray, mentally preparing himself for large amounts of pain. Firing a bolt at the nearest monster only resulted in a nasty squelching noise. It roared and charged him, its skin jiggling like mutant Jell-O before the gelatin could set.
"Xander!" Buffy yelled, starting toward him, only to be totally slimed by the monster she'd been fighting. And then Spike was there with a slithery hiss of black leather, his kicks and punches landing with heavy splats. The third slimy thing made itself known again by smacking Xander off his feet, landing him in a crumpled and slightly slimy heap not far from Giles.
This was the nice part -- the shockingly dizzy moment before the hurt set in and made Xander feel like he'd just lost a wrestling match to a giant ape.
He raised his head in time to see Spike fighting two-on-one, leaving his flank exposed as he buried his axe in the head of one of the slime demons. Spike reared back and roared in pain as the other demon slashed his claws into the vampire's side. He vamped out and dropped into a crouch, arm cradling his left side.
Willow knelt beside him, dropping her machete onto the wet grass and helping him sit up. The movement drew the attention of the slime demon that had just gored Spike.
"Oh boy," Xander said weakly.
The slime demon took two jiggly steps toward them before Spike rose up, face bumpy and snarling. He pounded on the demon with his fists, and then followed it with a kick to the midsection that sent the demon sprawling between two pink marble tombstones. Spike pounced, kneeling over it and cranking the slime demon's head until it snapped audibly. He was slow to rise, face fading back to human and his hands dripping green, viscous fluid.
Xander was relieved to see that Buffy had the last demon well in hand. She was beating it to even more of a pulp with a big stick. "That's for my hair!" she yelled, whacking it. "I was having a good hair day, you slimy disgusting thing!" She whacked it again. "And that's for my coat! I liked this coat! It was 75 percent off!"
Spike lurched over and dropped to the ground next to Xander. "Ow." The left side of his shirt was in tatters, his white skin streaked with blood, dirt and slime. "Think the Watcher's unconscious."
"Oh no!" Willow cried, scrambling to Giles' side. She patted at his face gently, murmuring at him to wake up, and a few moments later, Giles groaned.
"Oh, not again," Giles said, covering his eyes wearily.
Spike cupped his hands around a cigarette as he lit it and then sprawled flat on the ground. Without Willow's support, Xander sagged back onto the grass with a groan, landing next to Spike.
There was a rustle as Spike turned his head. "You all right?"
"Now I know what tenderized meat feels like," Xander said.
"Dunno why you were in the fight in the first place," Spike said putting a hand behind his head and blowing smoke rings into the air above them. His shirt rode up, exposing a tasty six-pack of abs, and because Xander was staring at Spike in appreciation, it took a moment for the words to sink in.
And then the frustrated part of Xander that was still riled up from his argument with Buffy felt doubly-stung. "Hey, I know I'm useless in a fight, but I don't have those nifty superpowers and I'm plenty destructible, so cut me some slack, okay?"
"What's got into you?" Spike demanded, sitting up on one elbow.
"What's gotten into me?" Xander said. "I'll tell you what's gotten to me. You calling me useless. I may be a loser, but I pay taxes and at least make a minimal contribution to society. What do you do? You're a pathetic, neutered dead thing who lives rent-free in my loser basement and mooches blood bought with my loser paychecks!"
Spike just stared at him for a moment, his face unreadable and hard like the back of a tombstone, but his eyes looked startled and almost... wounded, as if a puppy randomly bit him.
The moment passed before Xander could be sure it actually had happened, like a wild animal fleeing the headlights of a car.
"Yeah, and you've been the one inviting me 'round," Spike said, sneering, "so what's that make you?"
"I don't know," Xander said coolly, wondering who the hell had taken control of his mouth, "what's beneath a loser?"
Spike vamped out and lunged, crashing down on Xander's bruised shoulder when the chip kicked in. Spike howled in pain, his hands clutching at his head, fingers digging up stiff tufts of hair. He rolled off Xander and scrambled away, eyes squeezed shut from the pain.
Xander felt dizzy and hot as he watched Spike stagger to his feet. "Fuck off, Harris," he snarled, weaving away unsteadily. He muttered under his breath as he stomped out of the cemetery, leaving a glistening trail of slime and blood behind him.
"What's with him?" Buffy asked, finally done flogging the dead demon. She stood over the three of them, slime dripping from her earlobes, ponytail, and the hem of her once-pink shirt.
"I've no idea." Giles sounded puzzled. "Exactly how long was I unconscious?"
"Welcome back, Giles Van Winkle," Willow told him.
Xander just closed his eyes, and wondered they'd leave him where he was if he refused to move until the next century rolled around.
Sometimes his mouth really was his worst enemy.
He didn't see white hide nor bleached hair of Spike for days. At first, he was relieved to have his place to himself for once. He could change his clothes without having to retreat to the bathroom. He could watch whatever TV show he wanted without a snide peanut gallery. He could eat when he wanted, sleep when he wanted, or even prance around naked if he wanted. The dirty dishes in the sink were always his, none of his mugs had crusty blood rings at the bottom, and the washing machine never exploded.
It was sweet, sweet solitude.
After a couple of days, though, the quiet began to unnerve him. He came home from work, hung up his coat, and realized that he hadn't said more than a handful of words to anybody all day long, and what he had said mostly consisted of "excuse me" and "bathroom is to the left" and "that'll be $14.95." It occurred to him that he very well could spend the rest of his life like that, with the silence squashing him like a big elephant.
It never took much to convince Spike to talk, to fill the silent spaces with brags and lies. Xander would scoff and mock and interrupt, but he didn't stop prodding Spike into conversation because it was better than the alternative, which was talking to nobody but himself. And while he was a rip-roaring conversationalist, talking to himself all the time probably would lead to the psych ward of the Sunnydale hospital; they were overrun with patients care of the Hellmouth, and getting lost in the system there would suck big donkey dong.
But he most definitely did not miss Spike. That was just the loneliness talking.
Problem was, the only way to cure loneliness was to spend time with people, and Xander was still in the same boat he'd been in when this whole hanging-with-Spike-thing had started.
So he went to work. He came home. He got more sleep than usual because he was a little overdosed on apathy. He listened to Patsy Cline far, far too much while laying on his bed and staring at what passed for the ceiling. And this was exactly how Anya found him when she came down the stairs carrying a plastic cup of fruit punch.
"Your mother gets vodka in her punch," she said, sitting on his bed and peering into her glass as if trying to do a reading of the fruity future. "Why don't I get vodka?"
"Hello, Anya," Xander said, and buried his head beneath his pillow.
"I've called you many, many times," she said. "Did you get my messages?"
"Yes," Xander said, snapping the pillow off his face and curling into the fetal position around it. "But seeing as how I broke up with you, I'm no longer obliged to return your phone calls. Remember?"
"But you can't break up with me," she insisted glumly.
"I think it's the right thing to do, Ahn," Xander said. "I really do. You deserve somebody who makes you happy. I mean, look at you. You're gorgeous."
"Really?" Anya said, blinking at him rapidly in a way that told him it was 'gonna cry soon' and not 'attempting to be coy but instead resembling an unfortunate facial tic'.
"Yeah, you really are," he told her. "It's just -- I have to do this."
"No, you don't," she said, putting the fruit punch on the coffee table covered in half-melted candles and hugging her arms close.
"No, I really do," Xander insisted. "There's just so much that I don't do even though I want to, you know? I didn't try to get into college. I don't try to get better jobs. There's so many places in my life where I have no idea what I want, Ahn, you have no idea. And... I think when I see something that I want, I should go for it. Because if I don't, I'll regret it for the rest of my life, and I'll probably make you regret it, too."
Anya reached out and took one of his hands, holding it between her own and petting it absently. "You're being all noble and sweet. This will make things very difficult when my former coworkers curse you for breaking up with me."
"Then don't let them curse me," Xander suggested.
Anya shook her head, still holding his hand. "That's not how it works."
"Okay," he said, thinking furiously, "then break up with me."
Xander sat up. "Break up with me, Anya. Dump my sorry ass. I mean, isn't that vengeance? I come crawling back to you saying that you were right all along, and please can we get back together? And you say..."
Anya stared at him with wide eyes for a few seconds, and then seemed to snap back into the moment. "Fat chance, mister?"
"Yes," Xander said, kneeling next to her. "Because I totally don't deserve you."
"You certainly don't," she said a little more firmly.
"Because I am a bad, bad man," he continued.
"I gave you my body and my soul, and you threw them both away like a Publisher's Clearing House letter!" Anya said, finally getting into it and poking him hard in the chest.
"Ow," Xander said, and then, "you gave me your soul?"
She frowned. "Well, I haven't had one in quite some time. I don't remember how it functions."
"We'll work with it," he said. "I used you and then tossed you to the curb."
"I break up with you, you worthless piece of man-scum," Anya said, shoving at his thankfully non-bruised shoulder.
Xander flopped back onto the bed, his hands over his heart. "You have crushed all of my hopes and dreams. I shall forever wander this earth, miserable and lonely without you."
"Good," she said. "You unfeeling pig-dog."
They sat there like that for a few ticks of the clock. Xander closed his eyes for a minute, feeling a little platonic warm and fuzzy for his newest ex-girlfriend.
"Xander?" Anya said finally.
She fidgeted nervously. "Will you still be my friend? I don't think I have any of those."
Xander swallowed hard. "Yeah," he said, "I think I can do that."
Nine days after the slime demon incident, Xander walked into his basement, whistling softly and carrying a bag of groceries. He'd gone to the 24 hour grocery store because it was late, like 3AM late, and he guessed that it made a curious kind of sense that the even the demon population of Sunnydale needed a place to load up on peanut butter and Pop-Tarts during non-daylight hours.
Halfway down the stairs, as he was shoving his keys into the pocket of his jacket while trying not to drop the milk, he stopped abruptly when a wiggins shot up from the base of his spine.
"Hello?" he called out, peering into the dim depths of the basement. It was silent for a while, long enough that Xander jumped a mile when the ancient humidifier in the corner kicked on and spewed out musty-scented air. He laughed at himself a little and crossed to his kitchenette, putting his groceries on the counter.
He pulled off his uniform where he stood. The pants were smelly and sticky with Cherry Coke syrup because the bag leaked as he was replacing it in the theater's back room. His shirt had about a billion different stains, everything from cooking oil to Hi-C to jalapeños. The combination of stenches made his skin itch, so he tossed his uniform into the washing machine, leaving him in slightly-less-than-clean -- but nonetheless infinitely more refreshing -- boxers and a T-shirt. He kicked his shoes to the side and puttered around the kitchen, tucking away his groceries.
"Gyah!" Xander yelled when Spike appeared next to him as he was shutting a cupboard. Spike peered at him, shirtless and sipping blood from a mug. His torso appeared to be whole once more. "Where the hell have you been?"
Spike licked the blood mustache from his lip. "Hmm?"
"You," Xander said, kicking at Spike's shin. "Where have you been for the last week or so?"
Spike shrugged. "Nearly got caught by the soldier boys again, so I hid in one of the crypts. Started looking 'em over, found a real nice one with a full basement." He wandered over to the couch and sat down. "Thinking about moving myself in there."
"Huh?" Xander said intelligently. "When?"
"Dunno," Spike said. "Soon, though. It's not like I've got much stuff to pack, thanks to Harm."
No more Spike was supposed to be an occasion for a wild party, a celebration of being able to say 'don't let the screen door hit your ass on the way out.' Only Xander didn't feel like wearing a silly hat and twirling a noisemaker right now, because no more Spike meant facing the quiet. Making an effort. Meeting new people.
Dear god, he'd have to mingle and make lame small talk about the weather they weren't having, and then watch them run screaming for the hills when they finally encountered the more Hellmouthy parts of his life. He was pretty much doomed to be a dating failure while living in this town, wasn't he?
All quiet and no appreciation of his witty quips made Xander a neurotic boy. Besides, sarcasm was one of his few talents, and it worked so much better with an audience who could appreciate it.
Xander rubbed the back of his neck and wandered toward the couch. "Yeah, about what I said the other day..."
"What?" Spike said, and then got the light bulb expression. "Oh, right. When you got your pants in a twist. What of it?"
"Uh..." he said, unsettled by Spike's nonchalance, that whole aura of 'I'm hot and evil and I don't care about anything.' But that was the sticking thing -- Spike was hot and evil, but he did care about stuff. He cared a lot more than anybody expected him to, and that was part of what made him the weirdest vampire ever. "I shouldn't have said what I said."
"And what did you say?" Spike said, resting the mug on his thigh. "That you're a loser? Well, that much is true."
He wanted to knock the annoying smirk from Spike's face, but he just clenched his hands and took a deep breath. He'd probably just break his hand on Spike's face, anyway. "I think you know what I'm talking about, oh biteless wonder."
"What, that you're a loser whose greatest achievement is paying a few dollars in income tax?" Spike said. "You're right. You should've kept that one to yourself."
The red screen of rage descended over his eyes. "You are about as funny as syphilis," Xander said. "No, wait -- I take that back. You're the evil undead equivalent of syphilis. You're not fatal anymore, but you'll make me insane before you're done."
Spike rolled his eyes. "As long as I get to give you boils." He leaned forward and plucked at the hem of Xander's boxers. "Unless you already got 'em down there?"
Xander swatted at his hand and desperately tried to ignore the fact that the gesture had his stomach making like a Mexican jumping bean. "Hey!"
Spike was squinting at him warily, and Xander realized that his arms were doing a spastic little dance all on their own. He crossed his arms tightly to keep them under control.
"What's your problem, love?"
"You!" Xander said, arms back to gesticulating once more. "My problem is you! You half-naked, evil, vampiric mooching guy! It's like your very existence warps reality, causing untold changes in the space/time continuum!" And he wasn't going to continue with the Star Trek references, because something told him that it would only lead to more mockery.
A slow smile curled over Spike's face as he stood up, and it made him look like a Tim Burton-esque Cheshire Cat. Xander suspected this didn't bode well. And that was the massively stupid understatement of the year thus far.
"Distracted by my naked body, are you?" Spike said, walking closer, his hips moving like they'd been greased. Xander firmly told his brain not to think about what those hips could do, even though he had a small idea already from their two full-body contact sessions, and crap, that wasn't helping the situation any.
"No!" Xander said belatedly. "I'm not distracted by you at all."
Spike was still smiling that scary smile. "Oh no," he said, "nothing of the kind."
"Is that what this is all about, then?" Spike said. He was close enough that Xander could see the dark blue rings of his eyes, the color fading inward like a pair of old jeans. He breathed even though he didn't have to, and there was black, smudgy stuff ringing his eyes.
Xander shook his head. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
The tip of Spike's tongue appeared between his lips. "Guess I'll have to show you, then."
"Not so comfortable with the showing," Xander babbled, backing up. "Telling. Telling's good. I like telling."
"You missed me, didn't you," Spike said closing the not-very-big gap between them.
Xander tried to deny it wholeheartedly, but Spike's tongue got in the way. And pushing Spike away didn't seem to be an option, because the chip apparently didn't kick in with the electroshock therapy when something felt really, really good. Spike's tongue said hello, curling under Xander's teeth to lick at everything, stroking the roof of his mouth over and over, until he caused this maddening kind of tickle-itch that had Xander making a "mmrf" noise and pressing closer.
Spike palmed the back of Xander's neck and squeezed just to the point of pain, then relaxed his grip and did it again. Xander pushed back against his hand because it felt good, like an evil neck massage. His own hands were no longer pushing Spike away. In fact, it seemed like they were capable of independent motility, and that they really wanted to touch all of that exposed vampire skin. Xander couldn't blame his hands, because Spike's skin felt smooth and dry, and cool in a lukewarm kind of way. Kind of like a dolphin dipped in talcum powder.
They exchanged licking for sucking, which made the most obscene Blow-Pop noises and drew his blood toward his skin until his lips were warm and swollen. Spike began walking them backwards and Xander grabbed at his hips for balance, his fingertips slipping under the waistband of Spike's jeans. Xander's calves bumped against the bed and he swayed in place, tightening his grip in order to remain upright.
"Why are you doing this?" Xander blurted.
Spike tilted his head, eyes half-closed. "Well," he said, and then did this slow grind and slide, and wow, Spike was hard, and Xander found that insanely hot.
"Wait," Xander said as Spike dragged his T-shirt over his head. He was breathing kind of hard as Spike pressed sloppy, lewd kisses along his jaw and down his neck, dull teeth scraping his skin. "How do I know this won't end in public shame and humiliation?"
"You don't," Spike said, slipping his hand inside the front panel of Xander's boxers and closing his hand around Xander's cock. He went from 'getting there' to 'ready for business' in record time.
"Oh," he said faintly. "Okay."
Spike pushed him onto the bed and pulled off Xander's boxers, dragging his socks off along the way, and then he was naked and Spike wasn't, and he should be freaking out right about now, shouldn't he? Except Spike was crawling over him, and the flex of his chest muscles was really nice to look at as he straddled Xander's thighs. Spike licked his palm and then reached out to close his hand around Xander's cock again, jerking him off with any easy confidence that was almost as sexy as the hand-job itself.
Xander grabbed onto Spike's legs just above the knees and bumped up his hips, his body trying to follow Spike's hand as he did this really good thing with his thumb. "Oh god."
"Want me to suck you off?" Spike asked out of the blue.
It stunned Xander speechless for a minute. "Is that a trick question? I say yes, and you don't do it?"
Spike snorted, letting go of Xander's cock and swooping down for a full-scale invasion of his mouth, Xander's cock dragging against Spike's belly. Partway through the wet, open-mouthed kiss, Xander closed his eyes, only opening them again when Spike pulled back. He made sure Xander was watching, and then slid down his body, dragging his tongue over the head of Xander's cock like he was licking the center of an Oreo cookie.
It made him moan. Loudly. Please god, let his parents be soundly asleep right now.
Spike chuckled and then slurped him down without warning, hollowing his cheeks and rubbing all the right places with his tongue. It was kind of like taking a cool shower on a sticky-hot day, only completely not, because Spike had a mouth like a Hoover, and for the love of Bob, didn't he have to breathe?
Oh, right. Vampire.
Spike pulled back until he was just sucking on the head of Xander's dick, closing one hand around the rest of him, Spike's other hand dipping down to close around his balls. It sent a crossbow bolt of fear into Xander's heart, making him think that this was the price, that the consequence of sleeping with the evil undead was becoming a permanent soprano.
But Spike just squeezed a little and kept going down, brushing his asshole with a rough knuckle. Xander shivered and slid the fingers of one hand into Spike's gel-stiffened hair, his other hand clenching at the pillowcase. Spike slid a finger into his mouth alongside Xander's cock for a minute, and then dropped his hand back down and slowly pushed inside while Xander tried not to move. Or freak.
It was an odd sensation, having something in his ass. Not bad, just... weird and unfamiliar. Spike kept pushing in and making nasty, wet noises around his cock, and then Spike sort of curled his finger.
His eyes rolled back in his head, and thank god Spike didn't have to breathe, because Xander had probably just blocked his windpipe with that hip-thrust into his mouth.
"Sweet zombie Jesus!" Xander gasped. He never felt that during any of his physicals, and thank god, because it would have been impossible to repress the happy reaction from his dick. "Do that again."
Spike made a noise that was probably laughter, but Xander didn't care, because the vibrations felt really good, and then he did that thing with his finger again that sent Xander back into the stratosphere for a couple of seconds.
He couldn't be embarrassed that he was basically screwing himself back on Spike's finger and then up into his mouth, breathing hard, his hands sweating and turning the gel in Spike's hair all sticky. He couldn't be embarrassed because it felt too good, like all the best sex in his life added together times ten.
"Spike," he said, and that's all the warning Spike got as Xander came in his mouth. His head arched back and bumped against the headboard, the air buzzing next to his ears, eyes squeezed tightly shut. Spike kept sucking until Xander whimpered, unwilling to move any part of his limp and sweaty body.
A weight settled over his hips, and Xander cracked an eyelid to see Spike sitting on him, pants unbuttoned and lazily stroking himself.
Xander had watched plenty of porn in his time, so seeing somebody else's erection wasn't a shocker. Only he hadn't really seen one up close and personal, all big and thick, and hey, Spike was uncut. He reached out to touch it, running his finger over the foreskin and watching it move.
Spike grunted, and when Xander looked up, he could only see a sliver of blue under Spike's eyelids. Spike arched his back, and it occurred to Xander how crazy-hot it was that he was turning Spike on like this. He pushed and Spike scooted back a little, wrapping an arm around Xander's neck and letting him sit up so he could slide his hands down the back of Spike's jeans. Xander squeezed his hands around Spike's ass, and then leaned forward to suck on his neck. Spike's hand moved faster as Xander rocked him forward, biting a ring around his neck because it was making Spike growl. Spike's knuckles were leaving wet streaks along Xander's stomach, and he was breathing almost as hard as Xander had been.
He was feeling bold with afterglow, so Xander worried at the meaty part of Spike's shoulder with his teeth and rubbed his fingers over Spike's asshole. Spike froze in his arms, and then came all over Xander's chest.
Xander flopped back down onto the bed, dragging Spike with him. Neither of them moved far, Spike sliding off to one side a little, still mostly entangled. Xander mostly avoided thinking too much as the sweat dried and made his skin prickle.
After about five minutes, Xander turned to look when Spike said, "I warp the space/time continuum?"
"Oh yeah," Xander said. "I'm so very gay now."
Spike rolled his eyes. "Oh, like that's my fault."
"It so totally is. And next time we do this, you're gonna be naked," Xander said.
"Next time we do this," Spike drawled, "you're gonna fuck me."
Xander's lungs scrambled for air. "Can next time be, like, really, really soon?"
Sliding into Spike's ass was a revelation. It was this tight, frictiony place that he never knew existed until it became his favorite place ever. And the look on Spike's face while Xander fucked him -- all hot and consumed, lowering himself down onto Xander's cock so slowly that it made them both crazy. He didn't have to be careful. He didn't have to worry about bruises -- Spike liked bruises. He liked getting fucked so hard that the bed smacked against the wall, Xander's chest pressed to Spike's back
Almost as good as Spike's ass was his tongue. The first time Spike licked at Xander's ass, he squirmed away and said, "What the hell?" But Spike just held him down and fucked him with his tongue, and by the time he finished, Xander was face-down in the biggest wet spot of all time. Spike's tongue in his ass made Xander babble, and to date, Spike claimed that Xander had promised him his first born, his car, his Babylon 5 commemorative plates, and free Swiss Cake Rolls for life.
The first time Xander rimmed Spike, he discovered that Spike tasted dark and faintly oily, and that it wasn't gross at all. And it made Spike howl, so bonus.
Spike sometimes waited for him on the top step, slouched against the doorframe and with one thumb hooked into the pocket of his partially unbuttoned jeans. It was like a rent boy pose, or what Xander imagined a rent boy pose to be, since he hadn't seen any outside of movies.
The first time he'd walked in the door to see Spike slouching like that in only his black jeans, he'd nearly taken a header down the basement stairs. Of course, it wasn't as mind-blowing as coming home to find Spike naked, which happened pretty often. Spike liked to be naked, apparently, although Xander secretly thought it had something to do with Spike's irrational fear of the washing machine.
Spike refused to do laundry, but he did make a mean cucumber sandwich. In fact, Spike made dinner whenever he knew that Xander was working late at the theater. Xander tried to thank him when he did it, but Spike always snarled and stomped around impressively, so Xander learned just to say "Fuck me" instead. It took a while to get there with Spike's chip, using fingers and brightly colored sex toys. Sometimes with Spike just kissing the hell out of him and stroking his cock while Xander fucked himself with a silicone dick.
But oh, Spike was determined to get there, and they did, Xander on his hands and knees with Spike pushing inside with a slow burn, and once he got used to the sensation, getting screwed into the mattress with Spike's dick felt better than almost anything. He was pretty sure this wasn't what his father meant every time he advised Xander to take it like a man, but what his dad didn't know wouldn't cause a massive heart attack.
It wasn't long before Xander decided to quit the movie theater and apply at video rental places. Hollywood Video hired him, and despite the stupid uniform in a long line of stupid uniforms, he got his pick of movie rentals. This worked better for their mutual movie addiction, because when they were at home, they were closer to the bed. A guy had to make use of his sexual peak, after all.
If Xander waited until Spike was wrapped up in watching Passions, he could sneak his feet onto Spike's lap and the vampire would absent-mindedly give him the best foot massage in the entire state of California. He'd realize what he was doing halfway through and scowl like the world was ending, but he never stopped what he was doing.
Sure, Xander's life was weird, but a weird life was better than no life.
Welcome to Loserville. Population: two. There were worse places to be.