Road to Poofdom


Part Seven

Xander had fixed the door last night. He’d felt like pounding something into submission and the front door fit the bill perfectly. He’d also done a lot of thinking.

About Anya; an odd sensation of relief there, actually. After the initial shock had worn off, he thought about it and realized something. He really did love her, but he wasn’t in love with her. She was so much fun. He loved being with her, and he thought marriage was the next step. ‘Cause that’s what you’re supposed to do; find someone, marry that someone, have everything go south, divorce that someone, move onto the next someone.

It wasn’t she who was the wrong someone. It was him. He was going to marry her because he thought he should, not because he wanted to. Plus, she was obviously happy with Giles. Definite plus there. He’d gotten up and thrown away those skeezy cheeses right after his epiphany. Had to double-bag them though, ‘cause, damn, they stank worse than his work boots.

Today he moved on to the gay thing, pushing the Spike thing way, way into the back of his mind marked ‘uh-uh, not-going-there, firmly-entrenched-in-denial, Spike-who?’ section.

So. Gay now? Not sure. Okay let’s tip-toe through the list, he thought.

Straight: Likes sports. A manly-man activity. With buff men in sweaty uniforms. Shit. Maybe that should go in both columns. Have to ask Willow her opinion. Only he wasn’t talking to her right now. So, it stays in the straight column.

Gay: Likes musicals. There. He admitted it. That’s the first step in admitting you have a problem. So he wanted to sing and dance so much he’d summoned a demon. Lots of straight men dance around in silk pajamas singing about how they’re having relationship-phobic problems with their ex-demon fiancés.

Straight: He’s a carpenter, a construction worker. A time-honored, hetero vocation if ever there was one.

Gay: At night he runs around in cemeteries, thrusting phallic objects into the chests of the undead populace, with his friends, all of whom happen to be female.

Straight: Doesn’t really wear the stylish clothes. Not a high-fashion kinda guy.

Gay: For a supposed straight guy, he has a hell of a lot of floral shirts in his wardrobe.

Straight: Likes the sex with women. Boy-howdy. And boobies ain’t bad, either. Definitely likin’ the boobies.

Gay: Likes the sex with men. Big gulp. But does he like it more? He thought about it. Unfortunately, or fortunately, dependent upon how you look at it, the only experience he had to draw from was Spike. Okay. Enough of this shit.

He got up and ordered pizza – the ‘Bad-breath Special’. Translation: Extra garlic. Just ‘cause he could. He plopped down on his couch, turned on the T.V., and began to go though the programs on the channel guide. No ‘Star Trek’. How can there not be ‘Star Trek’ on over 200 channels? It’s like ‘Cops’. No matter what time of the day it is, you can always find ‘Cops’ on at least two channels.

He started to surf. Click. Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in drag. Double shit.

Click. ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert’.

Click. A re-run of ‘Will and Grace’.

Click. Click. Click. ‘The Birdcage’.

"Oh, hell no."

Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.

"Yes. Animal Planet. Alright."

"While it is true that the urge to breed dominates most species throughout the animal kingdom, certain species of mammals will occasionally engage in what could be considered to be homosexual activity. Here we see two male lions…"

"Shit! Maybe I should just rent a movie."


When Xander got up the next morning for work, he was exhausted. Too much emotion, too much thinking, not enough sleep. He’d been tossing and turning, and every time he’d rolled over, the crack in the headboard split a little bit more and caused the bed to creak loudly. He was hoping work would keep his mind off of things.

As he got out of bed, scratching his boxer-clad ass, he stumbled over a black, high-heel shoe. He kicked it under the bed and went in the bathroom, making a mental note to dig the doorknob out of the plaster and patch the hole when he got home.

After he showered, he realized that the only laundry he’d done was his linens. He’d been planning on doing more, but one of the dryers was out of order. It had a really big dent in it and the door wouldn’t work. He sifted through the pants on the floor. The pair on top passed the sniff test. He grabbed a tee out of drawer number two, put on his work boots, and hit the door.

It was good being outside. The sun, the fresh air, the work that kept his body and mind occupied. Until Manny interrupted his happy-place, anyway.

"Well, whoopty-do, Harris. Looks like someone got a little sumpin’-sumpin’ this weekend."


"This fell out of your pocket, man. A little trophy?" The black thong with the red rosette swung from Manny’s index finger.

Xander’s eyes widened. Shit. He was wearing those pants. "Uh, yeah, thanks, Man," he sputtered, grabbing the panties from him and stuffing them back in his pocket.

But every once in awhile, over the course of the day, his hand would drift back into his pocket and stroke the scrap of satin and lace.


Xander heard a knock on his door a few minutes after patching the hole in the wall outside his bathroom. He decided to ignore it.

"Open up, Xander! I know you’re in there!"

Buffy. He sighed in resignation, went to the door and opened it only as far as the chain would allow.

"Hey, Buffster. Not really feelin’ up to you girls tonight, okay?"

"No girls, just me. And, I come bearing gifts of the chocolatety variety." She enticed him by putting the plate of brownies in his line of sight.

"You don’t play fair, do you? You know I am a tower of Jell-O against the chocolatey goodness. Hold on."

He closed the door just so he could unlock it and let her in. "So, Buffinator. What brings you by this fine evening?" he asked, gesturing for her to sit on the couch.

She gave him the patented ‘duh’ look.

"I dunno if I feel like talking about that just yet, Buff."

"Xander, it’s been, like, three days. If you don’t talk about it to someone, you’ll just stew. A-and fester. And stew some more. Stew-fester, stew-fester. It’s a vicious circle of festery-stewage. Trust me, I know."

Xander heaved another sigh. "Talk. Okay. But before the de-festerage can I have a brownie? A growing boy needs his sustenance."

"You betcha. Got milk?"

"Yep. Does a body good." Xander got up and returned with two glasses of milk and some paper towels. "A towel for milady?"

"Thanks." She unwrapped the brownies and gestured. "Dig in."

Xander dug. He took one bite. Willow. "Willow made these didn’t she?"

"Yes, she of the guilt-induced baking binge has become the official Scooby chocolate supplier. I have been given the authority to tell you that there’s more where that came from. Remember the last time a spell of hers screwed up? I couldn’t look at a cookie for months."

"So she’s moved up to brownies?"

Buffy nodded. "Chocolate fudge brownies, chocolate-chip blondies, fudgey brownies, cakey brownies. Brownies, brownies everywhere. You can smell the chocolate a block from the house. Dawn is on a permanent sugar-high."

"God, I love it when you talk dirty," he quipped, grabbing another brownie.

Buffy smiled; a genuine smile. He hadn’t seen her smile like that in a long time. Too long.

"It’s nice to see you smile, Buff." He couldn’t help but smile back.

"No more distractions, brownie-boy. Spill."

Fortified by chocolate he began, "Do you think I’m gay?"

"Do you?"

"Don’t do that! Don’t throw the psycho-babble at me! What are you doing, channeling your inner Dr. Phil?"

"Sorry, dated a Psych major for awhile. Guess some of it rubbed off. Okay. Do I think you’re gay? I dunno. I never really thought about it, Xan. I mean, I may have slayer-senses, but gaydar? Not so much."

"I’m just so damned confused!" he said, obviously frustrated.

"Well, have you ever thought about guys before? You know, in that way?"

Xander paused, thinking. "Yeah," he said, finally. "I have."

"No big; sorry to bring it up again, but in Psych they said that it is absolutely normal to have feelings all up and down the entire hetero-homo spectrum."

"While you’re having sex with your girlfriend?"

"No way! Who?" Buffy leaned forward in anticipation.

"Who was my girlfriend or who was I thinking about?"

"Details, details, details!"

"This stays in this room, right? Pinkie swear? Everything we say tonight?"

Buffy did the pinkie swear, then crossed her heart and threw in the Boy Scout salute for good measure.

Xander swallowed, closed his eyes, and let it come out in a rush.

Buffy’s eyes got wide. "You thought about Riley when you were having sex with Anya? A-and that guy on ‘Highlander’?

"Adrian Paul, yeah."

"And the weekend bartender at the Bronze?"

"Yes, yes, and yes. You pissed about the Riley thing?"

"No. Stunned; yes. Surprised; yes. Totally wigged; yes. Pissed...big no."

He practically collapsed in relief. "There’s one more," he paused, mentally cringing. "Spike."


"Yeah, like, a whole lot of times."

"Wow. Didn’t see that coming."

Part Eight

"Tell me about it."

Spike was drinking vampire highballs: One part blood to three parts whiskey. He’d run out of the good stuff, and was now on the cheap, nasty stuff. He sat in his dilapidated chair clutching the glass in one hand and holding Xander’s t-shirt in the other. He was pathetic; sitting in the dark, drinking cheap liquor mixed with liquid Porky and wallowing. He was absolutely bloody brilliant at wallowing.

He’d reached a decision of sorts somewhere between Jack Daniels and Wild Turkey. It had happened. Acceptance. He was a shirt-lifter. A rump-ranger. An arse-bandit. A soddin’ friend of Dorothy, for chrissakes. He put the blame where it belonged; squarely on the witch. If not for her, he wouldn’t have noticed Xander. Wouldn’t have touched his skin, kissed his lips, run his fingers through the dark, silky hair. Wouldn’t have been rolling about in the sheets with his tackle hanging out while wearing stolen lingerie. Bugger.

By the time he was on the last of the Heaven Hill, a truly repulsive liquor if ever there was one, he realized he actually had feelings for that damned boy. And no matter how much he cuddled that tacky novelty shirt, it couldn’t replace how the boy had felt in his arms. It couldn’t make the boy want him. He took another swig from his glass and topped it off again with the whiskey.

The T.V. was on, casting shadows around the crypt, the volume on low. But he wasn’t watching it. Distracting yourself with T.V. was not conducive to a decent spot of wallow. He almost didn’t watch Passions today. Almost. Timmy could usually perk him up, even when he’d been chained in the bathtub. Not now, though.

He lit another cigarette from the one in his mouth, crushed the old one out, and smoked the new one. There was a pile of butts and ashes about three inches high on the stone floor next to the chair.

He couldn’t keep the boy out of his thoughts - the dark hair, waving softly. The brown eyes, dark but with flecks of a whiskey-ish color through them, he pondered, holding the bottle of cheap liquor up to the meager light. And his touch… No, fucking stop it, he chastised himself. No use thinkin’ on what you’ll never have. Bloody ponce.

A knock on his crypt door interrupted his reverie. It opened slightly, and a familiar floppy face peered in.

"Hey, Spike, whatcha doin’? Whoa, whole lotta bottles here. Ya on a bender, buddy?"

"What do you want, Clem?"

"Tonight was our regular poker night. You didn’t show. I was worried. You okay?"


"Wanna talk about it?" he asked, stepping inside and closing the door. "I brought Cheetos."


"Aww. Don’t be like that. You let me talk your ears off when Genevieve dumped me. The least I can do is return the favor. Look; got two big ears, no waiting." He flopped his ear in Spike’s general direction.

"Fine. Pull up a stone and shut the hell up."

"Okey dokey."

Clem waited, then waited some more.

Finally Spike spoke. "Something happened, an’ I dunno what to do about it."

"Something with the Slayer? She still not interested? Come on, buddy, you’ll wear her down eventually."

"Not her. Someone else."

"Moved on? Coolness, man. She was never right for you anyhow. Find a new girl?"


Clem processed for a sec, then dove back in, "Major unlifestyle change then, huh? How’s that workin’ out for you?"

Spike turned his head and looked at Clem in disbelief. "How do you feckin’ well think it’s working out for me? I’m sitting in the dark…"

"No major change there," the demon interrupted.

"Chain smoking," he continued.

Clem shrugged. "Same-old, same-old."

"And I’m drinking cheap whiskey."

"Geez, you really must be havin’ a rough time of it!" Clem exclaimed, something finally having made an impression.

"Damn straight."

"But you’re not now, huh?"

Spike grunted.

"So, who’s the mystery guy? Meet some vamp at Willy's?" Clem opened the bag of Cheetos and dove in.

"A human."

Clem choked. "Boy, Spike, when you deviate from the norm, man, you deviate from the norm!"

Spike raised his eyebrow as he lit another cigarette from his current stub and kept going.

"Someone I know?"

"Slayer’s boy."

"The carpenter?"

"That’s the one."

"Huh. Well skin-tightness aside, I guess he is pretty hot. I’m sure some, uh, people would go for a guy like that. Broad shoulders, muscular arms, dark hair and eyes, great smile. And a sense of humor; gotta love a sense of humor. Yeah. So, why the long face, huh?"

Spike looked at him like he was stupid. "He’s human. He’s twenty. And he hates me."

"Well, that last one is a problem, definitely. So, you’re not freaked by the whole gay thing? Just that he hates you?"

Spike tapped the end of his nose.

"Whoa. Way to be progressive Spike. Dealin’ with the whole homosexuality thing. Go you."

"Yeah. Go me." He took another swig of his highball.


"I just, I just dunno, Buff," Xander said.

"Okay. Let’s look at the spell. It didn’t change who we were; not really. We were still basically the same people. The only thing that changed was that we didn’t know who we were. No names, no places, no actual memory of the hellmouth-y stuff. It just gave us the freedom to be who we were without the things that would give us the hang-ups, Xan. It gave you the freedom to be, well, you. And you, no matter what your orientation, are pretty darn terrific." She reached over and took his hand. "And no matter what, even if you decide to play ‘hide the salami’ with Spike-"

"Hide the salami?"

"Hush. Let me finish. Even if you decide that Spike is the one you want, I’ll be there for you."

"You say that now, but I’m guessing I got some payback comin’ for the whole ‘Angel’ thing."

"Yep. You so do." She continued, "And, I think it’s time you forgive Willow. Or my butt is gonna be the size of Texas from all the damn brownies."

"Can’t have that, no-siree."

"Seriously, though. Xan, she’s so sad. When she’s not baking, she’s up in her room. Baking-room-baking-room-baking-room. It’s just not healthy. Plus, we really need to talk to her about the magic thing. I don’t want to not trust her. But it’s really hard. The being ripped out of Heaven thing notwithstanding."

"Have I mentioned how sorry I am about that?"


"I am, you know. It was your rest, you deserved it. I just…Wills was so convinced you were suffering in some Hell dimension…"

"Let’s just drop it, huh?"

"Okay, but just for now. You’ve been supporto-gal for me tonight. I want to return the favor. I know you’ve started to talk about it now. But, something like that: Fester, fester, stew, stew."

"Yeah, yeah. I know. It’s a date."

"Geez, it only took me coming out of the closet to get a date with you. If I’d known that, I might have come out ages ago."

"Oh, shut up and eat another brownie."


Xander walked into the Magic Box, the bell announcing his presence. He knew it was time, but he was so nervous. He didn’t know if he was ready to see Willow. And Spike. He knew he was not ready to see him.

"Xander!" Anya greeted him happily. "I’m so glad to see you."

He looked around; it was just Buffy and Anya. He was flooded by an enormous sense of relief.

"Hey, Ahn, hey Buff." He walked over to the counter, flash of blue eye and soft thigh. He chuckled inwardly; his thoughts rhymed. He squashed the thoughts down. He had other reasons for being here today than reminiscing. "Ahn, do you think we can go in back and talk for a bit?"

"The store…"

"I’ll watch it," Buffy cut in. "Go ahead." She made shooing gestures with her hands.

Xander guided Anya into the back room and onto the couch. She sat on the edge and looked at him expectantly.

"Ahn, I, er," he stammered. "Are you happy?"

Anya’s eyes lit up and she gushed, "Oh yes! Very happy. Rupert is kind and patient with me, and he’s such a good lover. Last night he did this thing with…"

"So not wanting the details," he interrupted. "Can I ask you a question?"


"Did you ever, ah, see the inner-homo lurking within?"

"So now you admit it."


"You still sure it’s not contagious?"


"Well, for a guy, you always were kind of sensitive."

"All my friends are women. I float on a sea of estrogen."

"You’ve got a lot of floral shirts."

"Yeah, I wondered about that one myself."

She nodded knowingly, and then jumped up. "Oh! I almost forgot! I have something for you." She left and returned with a gift bag decorated with rainbows. "See it’s a rainbow. I thought that was appropriate." She presented it with a flourish. "Open it! It’s your coming-out present. Like a debutante, only not so much."

"Thanks, Ahn. That’s sweet. I didn’t know coming out of the closet was a gift-giving event. I guess I need to get something for Willow, " he drifted off as the contents of the gift bag came into focus. "Anya, what the hell is that?"


He nodded.

"That’s a triple-ripple butt plug," she announced, proudly. "A butt-plug is a basic for those engaging in anal penetration. The helpful salesperson said so."

"And that?" he added in a somewhat strangled voice.

"It’s an anal probe. The original packaging said you’d be able to ‘Hit that spot!’ Quite helpful when self-pleasuring. The salesperson said so."

"Okay, so you went in a store and bought these?"

"Why, yes, of course. I simply walked in and asked the girl what kind of gift was appropriate for my fiancé, who had recently realized his homosexuality and needed sexual aids to help him explore the wonder of gay sex. I had to back-order some things. But don’t worry, I’m having them sent directly to you. You’ll have to sign for them though, so I told them they’d have to deliver them after five."

"You gave them my name?"

"And address."

Xander just stared, aghast.

"And phone number."


"What? Don’t you want to be informed when they get a new product line? I got you on the mailing list, too."

"That’s just great, Ahn."

"I thought so. It’s not every ex-fiancé who would be so understanding and supportive. Look in the bottom of the bag."

"There’s more?" He reached in and pulled out a bumper sticker: ‘I’m out and I’m proud’. It was decorated on each side by a pink triangle.

"It’s for your car."

"No offense, but I think I shouldn’t put this on my car. Something like this will probably get me beaten up at the construction site. I’m having flashbacks to fifth grade just thinking about it."

"Oh. Then I guess you won’t wear the Gay Pride shirt I ordered for you to wear to work."

"I think not, but thanks anyway, Ahn. I really appreciate how well you’re taking this."

"I am taking this well, aren’t I?" she said proudly.

"Yeah, I really think this is best. For both of us."

Anya nodded. "One more thing, Xander. Rupy said I should give this back to you." She handed him the engagement ring. "He has some stupid idea that if the bride is the one to break the engagement, she is supposed to return the ring. It’s a perfectly lovely ring. I don’t see why I should give it up," she said petulantly. "But Rupy said he’d buy me some jewelry. Whatever I want. He said it last night, just when we were…"

"TMI, Ahn."

"Oh, sorry. Do tales of heterosexual sex turn you off now? I promise to make an effort to not discuss my new honey’s prowess in bed, which is considerable by the way, or the size of his penis, which is…"

"That’s great, Anya. I really appreciate your discretion."

They heard the bell from the front door, got up and moved to the shop. It was Willow. Damn.

She took one look at him and her lower lip began to tremble.

"Hi, Wills." He held out his arms and she flew into them babbling.

"Oh Xander! I’m so-so-so-so sorry! You were right. Tara was right. I shouldn’t have done that spell. I just made everything worse. I’m a bad, bad person! A terrible witch. A-a-and look at you! Gay now!"

"Hush, Willow. I’m still kinda mad, but the spell did make me face a few things, in the most painful way possible, but still." He squeezed her and let her go.

"I’ve got brownies, lot’s of ‘em, and they all have your name on them!"

"I know. Buffy brought by some chocolate fudge ones yesterday. Thanks. You know I love your brownies. But, about the magic…"

"Oh, I have sooo totally learned my lesson."

"Glad to hear it."

"No more memory spells. There is this one spell, though…"

"Geez, Wills. You need to cut down." His eyes pleaded with her to understand.

"But, I help with my magic. I’m useful!"

Buffy interjected, "Sure, Will. Why don’t you fire up your laptop and see what you can find out about the freeze demon?"

"Freeze demon?" Xander queried.

"Yeah. Some big diamond was stolen from the museum last night and the security guard was frozen solid."

"Hey, here we go!" They turned at Willow’s voice. She was accessing the Internet through magic, using hand gestures to surf.

Xander, Buffy, and Anya shared knowing looks.

Part Nine

A couple hours later, the door burst open and Spike stalked in. He looked around the room. His eyes widened a bit when he saw Xander. Xander, who was looking steadfastly at the table. He growled and turned to Willow. "Witch. I haven’t thanked you properly for that spell the other night."

Bloody bitch. Still blamed her. Even his slayer-obsession hadn’t been as gut-wrenching as that naff boy was. He clenched his fists tightly.

Willow blushed and Buffy intervened. "What do you want, Spike?"

"Violence. I want a spot of it. Got anything I can beat to a bloody pulp?"

"Come on, we can patrol."

They left. Xander never even looked at him.


As soon as Spike came through the door, Xander’s heart had started to do double-time. He forced his eyes on to the table with an inner mantra of ‘don’tlookdon’tlookdon’tlook’. Spike looked good, in the one glance that he allowed himself. Or bad. Kinda tired, stressed.

He began to calm as soon as Spike and Buffy left. He felt stupid. I have the hots for Spike, he tried out in his mind. Ack. I want to bend Spike over the table. Double-ack. He had to admit it; there was an attraction there. Probably always had been. It had just taken a wonky spell for him to act on it. But, how did Spike feel about him?

That night, Xander spent a lot of time thinking about Spike. And all the nights thereafter.


"So, Spike…"

"Just don’t, Buffy."

Buffy sighed as they walked through the cemetery. "Look. You were the only one I felt I could talk to when I came back. It’s just, that kiss…"

Spike stopped and looked at her. "You never loved me, or wanted me. Not really. I knew it. I did. Just couldn’t accept it, is all. ‘N when we kissed," he paused as Buffy took a breath to interrupt. "No. Just let me finish, all right? When we kissed, I thought my heart would explode. But not yours. You didn’t feel love, or desire, or anything I thought I was feeling. Just desperation. I could tell; denied it, pretended it didn’t matter. But now it does. It does bloody well matter, ‘cause I want more. And I know that you’ll never be able to give more than that."

"You’re right."

"I am? I mean, I am."

"It’s Xander, isn’t it?"

Spike looked at her in shock. "What?"

"You mean Xander, don’t you?"

"So what if I do?" he asked defensively.

Buffy started walking again and Spike followed. "I dunno. I mean, I can’t be all zippaty-do-dah-y ‘cause you want Xan to be your honey. I mean, yay, no more mounds of cigarette butts next to the tree in my front yard, but does this mean you’re going to go all stalktastic on him, now?"

"No. Boy hates me."

"I’m gonna regret saying this, but, not so much."

Spike stopped in his tracks, not even caring if there was hope in his facial expression. "Really, Slayer?"

"If I were you, I’d just wait and see. Give him some time. He was just outed out of a closet he didn’t know he was in. Just don’t expect me to be the head cheerleader in the yay-my-best-friend-is-boinking-the-evil-undead pep squad."

"That’s the big problem? ‘Cause I’m a vamp?"

"Well, it’s number one on a really long list. What about the chip? If this thing between you happens…well, what’s gonna happen when William the Bloody is back in top form? Is Xan gonna be on top of the kill ‘n turn list?"

"Not Xander. Never."

Buffy huffed disbelieving. "No?"

Spike pulled out his Zippo, lit up a cigarette, took a long drag, and began to explain. "Turning someone, it’s a bloody crap shoot, ya don’t know what you’re gonna get."

"You’re saying unlife is like a box of chocolates?"

Spike suppressed the urge to call her a stupid bint. Just barely. "No. Sometimes it’s still basically the same person, ya know? Same, ‘cept without a conscience. Evil, yeah, but not absolute, suck-the-world-into-Hell evil. No desire to do evil for evil’s sake. Just, a predator. Or, the demon can twist ‘em up. Destroy all the good qualities, magnify the bad, put the demon square in the driver’s seat, and there you have it; a true desire to maim, kill and destroy."

Buffy cocked her head at him, pondering. "I thought all vamps wanted to kill and destroy."

"Some more than others. Kill, yes. It’s what we do, well, what I used to do, to survive. Bloody soldiers. The destruction? Some of ‘em, well, it’s all they want. Others…it has to be cultivated. The desire for evil has to be fed."


"So, I will never turn someone I loved as a human."

Buffy’s eyes got wide. "You love Xander?"

Backpedaling rapidly. Shit. "I didn’t say that."

"No, you said that you would never turn Xander ‘cause you never turn anyone you love."

Fuck. Now she gets it. After a stunning revelation like that, he closed his eyes and waited for the punch. When it didn’t come, he opened them and looked down on the petite slayer. She just stood there looking at him. "I can’t say, Buffy. I don’t know that I want this. Love a human? A human boy? I’ve always been love's bitch, you know that."

"So, you really didn’t love me huh?"

"Nah, ‘twas just an obsession. You were dead-on."

"I guess we’ve reached the ‘nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah’ portion of the evening."

Spike chuckled ruefully.

"So, what makes what you feel for Xan different?"

"Dunno. Just is. Made me get over you right quick, dinnit?"

"Ya gonna go after him?"

"I’m not sure. I want to, but…"

"You don’t know if you want to risk your heart again?" Damn, she may be a blonde, but occasionally the light bulb upstairs flicked on.

She continued, "Promise me one thing, Spike. Promise me. Swear that no matter what, you won’t purposely hurt him."

"Purposely?" he asked, puzzled. This was an unexpected turn of events.

"I can’t say ‘never hurt him’, ‘cause that’s just not possible. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, at some point, you’ll always hurt the one you’re closest to."

Spike looked down into her earnest face and made a decision. "I swear Buffy. I promise that if I can have Xander, I will not do or say anything to hurt him purposefully."

"I know, Spike. You may be evil from the top of your bleached head down to the tips of your Doc’s, but you keep your promises. Thanks for that. So, still wanna pound on something?"


"Here’s your chance," she said, pointing over his shoulder.

Spike smiled and threw himself at the fledges with gusto. He had a chance. The boy didn’t hate him. Bloody brilliant.


Xander reached a decision: He wanted Spike. He’d spent the last week being careful not to look at him. He’d gotten to know the grain of the table and the scuff marks on the floor of the Magic Box intimately. They were now old buds. He kept the panties in his trouser pocket. For some reason, he just couldn’t leave them at home or toss them. Every day they were transferred into the pants he was wearing; just like his wallet and keys. Whenever he saw Spike, he would reach in and touch them. Couldn’t help it.

Buffy had told him that Spike didn’t hate him. Big plus, there. But she wouldn’t give him any details, no matter how hard he prodded. Miss thang. He was gay; he could get away with saying, er, thinking things like that now. But mostly, he thought about Spike.

Boy, oh, boy did he ever want Spike. He just didn’t know how to go about it. All of his experience was with women. He needed to find an expert. That’s when he found Horatio.

Horatio lived in 4D. They’d met on the elevator. Horatio was gay. So gay, in fact, that he made Buffy look like a truck-driving, tobacco-chewing lesbian. He was the kind of guy that made women feel awkward in their own skins, like they should be scratching their balls, or something. He made Xander feel like Butchy Butch of Butchville.

After a brief conversation, Horatio had appointed himself Xander’s fairy godmother. His very own, glittery, sparkly Obi-Wan. Spike wouldn’t know what hit him.


"Oh, Xander! I found something for you!" Anya called out as soon as he came into the Magic Box for the Scooby meeting.

He looked panicked. He tried not to, but he knew he did. Please, please, no more embarrassing sex toys.

"Thanks, Ahn. That’s sweet of you." He sat down next to Willow. She was practically sitting on her own hands. He sighed. She had finally hit rock bottom. She’d gone on a magical field trip with a de-ratted Amy, gone to some kind of funky spell-dealer, and Dawn had wound up hurt. She still looked a little shaky, even though the worst of the withdrawal had been over a few days ago. Dawn was still upset. Spike wouldn’t even look at her. Spike. He sighed again, putting his hand in his pocket.

Anya bustled to get the present and gave it to him in a rainbow gift bag. Geez, did she buy them in bulk? He opened it. It wasn’t a sex toy. Good. The last toy she’d bought him required four double-D batteries or an AC adaptor. When he plugged it in, just to check it out, it had made the lights dim. He looked up at her, confused.

"It’s a CD. Of disco. Gay men love disco." She nodded knowingly. Spike snickered.

Xander thanked her and she flounced away, pleased with herself. She paused by Spike. "Do you like disco, Spike?"

It was Xander’s turn to snicker. When an answer wasn’t forthcoming, Anya went into the stock room. He glanced over at Spike, met his eyes, and smiled slightly before looking away.

He leaned over to Willow. "She keeps doing that. Buying me things, I mean. Last week, it was ‘The Joy of Gay Sex’. Yesterday it was the Chippendale’s calendar," he whispered in her ear.

"She’s just tryin’ to be all super-support-y."

"I know, I know. I just want her to chill out a bit."

"She’s just extra-twitchy ‘cause she’s goin’ to England with Giles. She must really love him."

"Yeah. But it will give Buffy somewhere to work, running the store. She really needs the money. I know she hates retail, but damn, what else is left? The Doublemeat Palace? Even I think it’s unnatural to put a chicken patty on the same bun as a burger." He shuddered to give her the full effect of his disgust.

He saw Spike get up and move around the room, restless. His eyes followed him, his hand never leaving his pocket. He’d been ‘making nice’ with Spike gradually over the last couple of weeks; making eye contact, exchanging semi-pleasantries…nothing too big. Spike seemed to be waiting for him to make a move. Xander knew what he wanted, he’d been preparing for two weeks. Now all he had to do was act on it.

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