At the small table in the back of the Magic Box, Xander shifted in his chair, staring at the book and trying to read it. Not trying very hard, because Spike was sitting beside him.
Xander didn't like the vampire, didn't see why they had to let him help. Mostly, though, he didn't know why Spike had to sit so damn close. He would have said something, but he knew that Spike would win at any battle of wits Xander tried to engage him in. It was only because he'd had a century, on and off, of practise on Angel, Xander told himself.
What he really wanted to do was shove Spike aside, but there again he'd lose. Vampiric strength was an unfair advantage, unless it was helping Buffy out of a fight with an unexpected extra dozen demons.
While he didn't begrudge Buffy letting the chipped-and-impotent vampire hang around and help, he didn't see why Spike had to do his best to bug *him*.
But at least being annoying was one thing Xander was pretty sure he could win at. He reached out and poked Spike in the arm, with one finger, continuing to stare at his book.
"What--" There was a pause, then Spike poked him back.
Which meant Xander poked him back, and Spike poked back. Which meant Xander poked him back. Then Spike poked back. Then Xander upped the ante and turned so he could poke with both forefingers. Spike retaliated, and soon they were poking back and forth, four or five fingers each, not waiting for each to take his turn.
They'd been poking for nearly four minutes when Giles interrupted with, "For god's *sake* will you please get back to your research?"
Xander froze, and started to turn back around. He started to poke Spike one last time.
"*Books*," Giles snapped.
Xander settled for sticking his tongue out, and was not surprised when Spike did the same.
The graveyard was dark, cold, and surprisingly empty of vampires. Except for one, and Xander didn't know why *he* had to get stuck with Spike again. Spike had been a pseudo-Scooby for months, now, and Xander wasn't any more thrilled about it as he'd been when Buffy first said Spike could help.
He sat on a tomb and looked around. "There's nobody undead but you." He sighed, dramatically, then said in a bright tone, "Hey, does that mean I can slay you?"
"Fuck off," Spike said, not even looking over. Spike seemed as utterly bored as Xander was.
"Why do I always get stuck with you?"
"Was just thinking the same thing," Spike said, sneering at him in that 'I'm so cool and so unimpressed' vampirey way he had. It made Xander want to thump him, or accidentally stake him just on principle. Or at least say something back, but -- he remembered why he tried to avoid snarking at Spike.
Spike always seemed to win.
Xander reached over and poked him, instead.
Spike's head whipped around and he looked startled -- then he narrowed his eyes and poked back. It didn't take long for them to get down to three fingers on each hand, poking as fast as humanly possible.
"You know, when I play with my food I usually go for something less...juvenile."
They looked over at the lady vampire who was standing not nearly far enough away, watching them.
"I'm not *playing* with him," Spike said. "We're arguing."
She blinked, tilted her head and looked at Xander. "Are you gonna eat him?"
"No, you--" Spike took two steps forward, lunged, and grabbed her, flinging her to the ground. Xander jumped up and ran the stake through her chest before she could get over her surprise.
"Urg!" Xander wanted to give Spike a hearty shove, but knew it wouldn't help. It never did, because Spike had magic undead gravity-increasing powers whenever he didn't want to be moved, so why Xander ever thought about trying was beyond him.
He grinned, suddenly, and wriggled a hand free. He poked Spike's arm.
There was no movement for a second, then Spike -- who was now awake but glomming no less than before -- poked him back with a finger to Xander's chest.
Xander poked back.
Spike poked him again, and soon they were a few inches away from each other, buried under the blankets, stabbing their fingers rapid-fire into each other's chest and arms.
Spike stopped, suddenly, and stared at him.
"What?" Xander didn't trust him to not be planning some sneaky attack.
"*You* started it!" Spike said, in a stunned tone.
"Er, yes? Well, you started it by glomming onto me until I couldn't breathe."
"No. Back.. the first time. I always thought I'd decided to seduce you. But *you* started it. Almost two years before I ever kissed you."
Xander felt himself blushing. "Did not."
Xander dispensed with the verbal attack, even though he'd learned over the years that he could, in fact, hold his own. He poked Spike again, then took the gesture to its final, logical, years-more-mature and years-into-a-relationship-so-we-have-more-developed-methods-of-communication evolution, and whapped Spike firmly on the back of the head.
Spike laughed. "Love you, too."