Characters: Spike & Xander
Rating: PG-13
Category: Spander banter with a schmooshy ending
Summary: Spike and Xander watch The Sentinel
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon: genius; me: just playing with his characters

Episodes of Attraction

Dragon's Phoenix

5 Cypher

As rain pattered on the top of a car that was stuck in traffic at the sport's arena, a voice complained, “I wanted to leave at the two minute warning. We were up twenty points but you had to stay till the end.”

The camera view descended into the car. Blair replied to Jim's complaints. “Who cares man? We won,” he exclaimed. “Whoo!”

“See? They're together all the time. They work together. They live together. You know sooner or later they'll be playing together,” Spike leered.

Xander slouched down further into the couch, shoved Doritos into this mouth, and resolutely ignored Spike.

“Don't you have anything a bit less like junk food to eat, pet?” Spike asked.

Xander sat up and glared. “I've had a long day. I'm tired. I don't see you offering to cook or do anything useful around here actually.”

“Just saying it might be healthier for you to eat a real dinner.” Taking a swig of his beer, to give himself an excuse not to look at Xander, he added, “Can't your mother feed you?”

“Mom's idea of cooking is pb&j with these on the side,” Xander replied, shaking the bag of chips. As Spike peeked over, Xander caught his gaze, giving him a drop-it look.

Spike settled back to watch the show just as Blair started freaking out at the dead woman in the tub. Hmph, he thought. At least my Xander can keep his lunch when he sees a corpse. Well, think he can. It's not like the topic's ever come up, now has it? Wait. Grew up on the Hellmouth, of course he's seen corpses, some with sharply defined biceps even, he added, looking down at his own arms.

The next evening, Blair was stretched out on the couch, kissing the dark-haired beauty who lay above him. As she leaned back and smiled, he said, “You are so beautiful.”

“Ha! Blair's making out with that woman,” Xander said.

As they started kissing again, images of the dead woman Blair had seen in the tub while responding to a call with Jim, flashed before Blair's eyes. He broke off the kiss.

“What is it? Did I do something...” his girlfriend asked.

“Won't happen,” Spike replied. “See, he's already freaking out. One will get you five she's gone before they do anything.”

“You don't understand,” Blair cried out as his girlfriend reached for her purse by the door.

“She was dead. Murdered. Drowned in her tub and... it was awful. Her mouth was open, it looked like she was screaming and her eyes. Man.” He gave a hollow laugh. “I'll never forget those eyes.”

Walking back to the couch, she sat by him, saying sympathetically, “That must have been horrible for you.”

“I'll take that bet,” Xander said.

As they heard the sound of a door opening and then being blocked by a chain lock, they both turned to look. “Jim,” Blair said.

“Sandburg, what the hell is going on?” Jim shouted as Blair got up to open the door.

“Oops. Jim's home. You owe me a dollar,” Spike declared.

“Yeah, like you wouldn't have stolen it from my wallet anyway,” Xander replied.

Entering the apartment, Jim asked, “Wh... what are you doing with the front...” He noticed Blair's girlfriend, still sitting on the couch. “Hello there. I'm Jim Ellison. I live here.”

“Oh, lookie there. Jim's staking his claim. Don't believe me? Double or nothing: the date leaves,” Spike said.

“Well of course she's going to leave. Look at how awkward it's getting,” Xander replied. “And did you just say 'lookie there'?”

As Jim pulled a beer from the fridge in the background, Blair's girlfriend picked up her purse and said, “You know, maybe we should just call it a night. Things are getting way too complicated here.”

“Things are getting too complicated? Tell me that's not chick speak for 'I know you two are lovers',” Spike replied.

“I'll call you tomorrow,” she added before giving Blair a kiss and heading out the door.

“Jim and Blair are not lovers. And see? She's going to call Blair tomorrow,” Xander replied.

“Won't matter,” Spike said. “She won't be around for another episode. These two have serious commitment problems. It's almost like they couldn't commit to new relationships due to an existing one.”

The next day, Jim, wearing a suit, and Blair, dressed more casually, step out of a truck. “She could be in an open casket. You going to be OK with that?” Jim asked.

“Yeah, yeah, I'll be fine,” Blair replied, putting on a set of sunglasses.

“Serial killers often like to stay around, hang around, admire their work. Sometimes even taunt you to catch them, so stay alert,” Jim explained as they made their way through a crowd of reporters and entered the church where they split up. Jim positioned himself in the second level, to get an overview of the crowd, while Blair sat down with those gathered for the funeral service.

Jim noticed a yellow scarf, the serial killer's signature, being held by a black glove. He stood. As the congregation stood to approach the casket, he saw a woman, dressed in black for the funeral, wearing a stylish black hat, whose face was covered by a veil. Blair, standing, also saw the yellow scarf and gestured towards Jim, trying to point out the killer.

Seeing Blair's gestures, the killer ran. Jim raced down the stairs. Outside the church, the reporters saw the woman exit the back door. Sensing a story, they mobbed towards the woman, one of them shouting to his cameraman to get this on tape.

“That killer's got a nice set of legs,” Xander said.

“Yeah, for a man,” Spike replied.

“What? That's a woman. They've been saying it's a woman all along!”

“Oh, come on. He's no more of a woman than I am. Wait.” Spike's eyes sparkled with mischief. “You're attracted to a man,” he singsonged.

“Am not,” Xander replied.

In Jim's apartment, Blair was crouched down by the VCR player, putting in a tape. “Did we really promise a hot tip in return for this video?” he asked.

“Better he get it from us, on our terms, than from his source,” Jim replied as Blair joined him on the couch.

Blair clicked on the tv with a remote. They saw a woman, the killer, running from the church. “Lady,” a reporter shouted.

The woman opened the car door and turned her head while getting in. “Freeze it right there,” Jim said.

Blair paused the video. “Now back it up a little bit... Right there,” Jim added. The video paused on the image of the woman getting into the car.

“Do you see it?” Jim asked.

“What?” Blair replied.

“How many women do you know that have Adam's apples?” Jim asked.

Blair leaned forward for a better look. “You know, I think you're right.”

“Which means our she is a he.”

Spike tilted his head towards Xander and smirked.

“Shut up,” Xander said.

“Didn't say a thing,” Spike replied.

“I could hear you thinking.”

“Wasn't thinking a thing. Maybe you were thinking,” Spike stretched to show off his lean muscles to best effect, “that you'd like to try playing the other side of the street.”

Xander's eyes glazed over a bit before, with flushed cheeks, he turned back to the tv screen. “No way, blood breath.”

Content with what he'd seen in Xander's eyes, Spike relaxed back into the couch.

The killer carried Blair down the stairs into an abandoned factory. Candles lit up the space. There were four altars: one for each of the people he'd already killed. A mannequin's head, wearing dreadlocks and a baseball cap, hung from the ceiling; drumsticks settled on a table below. Nearby white gauze draped down from the ceiling; within was a woman's black mourning hat, complete with veil. Next over sat a filing cabinet, with red, black, and white wax dripping down below and a mannequin head with pencils sticking out, crowning it like sunbeams, on top. Finally a wheelchair hung from the ceiling before a wall hanging depicting a pot plant.

“Dru would have loved that place,” Spike commented. “She was fascinated by altars although I'm not sure she ever made any for her victims. She didn't care about them all that much.”

“Please, spare me the details about your crazy ex,” Xander replied.

Oh yeah, Spike thought happily. Jealous of my ex. Not interested in me at all.

Spike leered at Xander, who pointedly crunched Doritos in response. Spike frowned. While Jim rescued Blair, Spike worked out how to get Xander to eat some real food.

As Jim and Blair stepped into the elevator, Blair said, “Speaking of commitment, I'm thinking about getting a Cascade police insignia tattooed on my chest.”

“Above the nipple ring,” Jim deadpanned.

“See,” Spike said, sitting up excitedly. “And you're trying to tell me they aren't interested. They've only been living together for a week and Jim's already noticed that Blair has a nipple ring.”

“Maybe two guys who do have nipple rings can be interested in each other...” Xander started.

“Lovers, pet. If you're gonna do it, need to call it by it's proper name,” Spike interrupted.

“But, as I was going to say, two guys who do not have nipple rings do not get to be interested in each other,” flustered he added, “or become lovers. Or whatever.”

Spike grinned a wide grin. “You've noticed that I don't have any nipple rings then, have you?”

“Not going there. It's not my fault you wander around in your birthday suit after dumping towels all over the bathroom floor.”

Nice to know you look though, Spike thought but didn't say.

6 Night Train

Setting a bowl of popcorn out by the couch, Xander heard Spike yell,“Come and get it,” as he bounded down the stairs.

Xander sniffed. “Is that... food?”

“Yep. Joyce made us dinner,” Spike said proudly as he put a couple of bags on the kitchen table and started pulling out containers.

Joining Spike at the table and opening containers, Xander said, “Chicken. Potatoes. Carrots?”

“Hey, no disparaging the veggies. I promised you'd eat those,” Spike said.

“You promised? Why did Joyce give you all this food?” Xander replied, grabbing a couple of plates from the cabinet.

“Apple pie but no dessert if you don't finish your veggies first,” Spike said. As Xander stopped loading up his plate, Spike added, “I might have mentioned something about a growing boy and tv dinners.”

“Hey, I don't eat tv dinners,” Xander exclaimed.

“Yeah, but I wasn't about to tell her you ate potato chips for dinner,” Spike replied as he started loading food on his own plate.

“Hey, if I have to eat carrots...”

“And the broccoli,” Spike interrupted.

“Then so do you,” Xander finished.

“I'm dead. Doesn't matter what I eat,” Spike replied.

Xander glared at him until Spike loaded vegetables onto his plate. “We don't have to eat at the table, do we?”

“Are you kidding? The show is about to start. We will Friday though,” Spike added.

“Will what on Friday?” Xander asked.

“Have to eat at the table. Joyce invited us over for dinner. She's making pot roast with those little tiny potatoes because that's my favorite,” he preened.

Settling themselves in front of the tv, they heard

the sound of drums and saw Blair, from behind a window, banging on one drum. As Jim walked into the kitchen, he shouted out to Blair, “Come on. You're killing me,” before bringing a tissue up to his nose.

“Is it working?” Blair asked as he stepped out of the back room.


“On your cold,” Blair replied.

“You know,” Spike spoke up. “I've never appreciated before that you could really be a much worse roomie.”

“Oh ha ha,” said Xander, tossing some pieces of popcorn at Spike, who grabbed them midair and happily munched them down.

“Give it a rest! Please?” Jim begged.

“Fine,” Blair replied, picking up his drum and carrying into the back room where he turned off the music. Jim blew his nose.

“That's OK. That's OK because I've got something else for you. And it's almost done.” He lifted the lid off a pot on the stove.

“Eww,” Xander said, looking at a pot full of dried up old carrots and twigs.

“Glad we've got Joyce to cook for us?” Spike asked.

“Totally,” Xander replied.

“Be careful, luv. You're starting to talk like Blair, which means, once they start shagging we'll have to.”

“They are not going to shag, Spike,” Xander replied.

“Didn't say we wouldn't. Progress, yeah?” Spike leered.

“You keep just hoping, blood breath,” Xander muttered.

“A little bit of this; a little bit of that. It doesn't matter,” Blair said, describing his concoction. “Look at this, check this out,” he added before sniffing over the pot. He unconvincingly tried to turn his heavy coughs into “Mmmm. Mmmmm.” Looking up he said, enthusiastically, “Now that stuff, that'll clean your sinuses.”

“Or your floor,” Jim replied.

“Speaking of clean floors,” Xander said. Spike's fork paused momentarily, on the way to his mouth, before he continued to eat. “Does the floor look cleaner to you?”

Taking his time to swallow, Spike said, nonchalantly, “Hadn't noticed.”

“It does. The floor has been mopped. Laundry's been done. Somebody's picked up around here while I was off at work. What gives?” Xander asked.

“Got bored, didn't I? Nothing to do around here all day,” Spike replied, realizing he wasn't going to get out of it.

“You. Got bored?” Xander replied.

“Hey, evil can get bored.”

As Jim checked each compartment on the car of the train, he told Blair, “The package's name is Derek Wilson. Oregon State Police are handing him over to us. He's supposed to testify against a guy named Edward Murdoch. Wilson was his accountant and agreed to testify against him for a quick trip into the Witness Relocation Program after the trial.”

Jim knocked on the final door in the car. A police officer opened it up, checked Jim's badge, and signed him in. As the two officers headed out, Jim entered the compartment. A woman sat there, tall, lean, and dark haired, in a pink business suit with a short, short skirt.

“Oh, and the leg man strikes again,” Xander said, looking to see if Spike would respond.

“You know neither one will end up with the girl,” Spike smirked.

“They could,” Xander said with a sly smile.

“Not when they could be laying their hands on each other,” he said, squeezing Xander's leg.

“Hey, no bad touching,” Xander said.

“How about good touching?” Spike asked as he tiptoed his fingers up Xander's thigh.

“No touching, period,” Xander said, swatting Spike's hand away. He was disappointed when Spike didn't try again.

“Junior, please sit next to Mr. Wilson,” Jim asked. As Blair moved across the compartment, away from his seat next to the woman, Jim slapped him on the shoulder. Blair sat down by the accountant. “Sorry about the jewelry kids but these are the rules,” Jim added as he handcuffed Blair to the accountant. To Blair's disgusted look, Jim replied, “Procedure.”

“You are?” Jim asked, turning to the woman.

“Isabelle Caine. I'm an attorney with the firm representing Mr. Wilson,” she replied.

“Jim,” he replied with an interested look.

Spike sat up, saying, “Handcuffs! Like to be restrained, pet?”

Xander just looked back at him calmly and replied, “That's for me to know and for you...” He trailed off.

“I'll take that as a yes,” Spike smirked.

As Isabelle joined him in the dining compartment, Jim drank down some cold medicine and made a face. “Would you rather I sit someplace else?” she asked, crossing her long legs.

“No, no no,” Jim replied. Raising the bottle of cold medicine, he added, “Don't tell Sandburg.”

She smiled at him and said, “It's getting claustrophobic in there and, uh, your partner keeps staring at my legs.”

“I'm sure it's just a nervous tick,” Jim said blandly, looking at her face.

“Right,” she replied. Jim looked away towards a large man by the bar.

Not sure why Spike wasn't commenting on this scene, Xander decided to make himself busy. “Right, I'm getting seconds. Want anything while I'm up?”

“No, I'm good,” Spike replied. As Xander headed over towards the kitchen, Spike yelled after him, “Don't forget to take more veggies.”

Turning back, Xander asked, “What is this obsession you have with vegetables?”

“I promised,” Spike replied, giving Xander a straightforward look. “You wouldn't want to upset Joyce now, would you?”

Xander grumbled but piled more vegetables on his plate.

Jim opened the bathroom door, the light, behind the man in the hallway, was a blindingly bright yellow, fading off to white at the edges. As the man leaned in to ask, “How long you gonna be,” his eyes got larger, looking almost bug-like. Raising his arm before his face, Jim closed the door and then put on sunglasses in the dark bathroom.

“What'd I miss?” Xander asked, flopping down onto the couch.

“That cough syrup Jim took? Making his senses go all wonky. See, this is why it's better to be a vampire,” Spike replied.

“Cough syrup doesn't bother you?”

Spike gave him a look. “Don't need it. We never get sick.”

Two men with guns walked towards the compartment. Jim, still having trouble with his senses, listened at the doorway. Each footstep sounded like thunder to his out-of-control hearing.

Moving away from the doorway, Jim handed his gun to Blair, saying, “Anybody who comes through that door without my face, you shoot them.”

“You got it,” Blair replied, looking nervous.

Jim slipped into the next compartment. Opening the door, he saw one of the assassins in the hallway. Even with his sunglasses on, the light almost blinded him. The assassins started a countdown by the next door. “One, two...” Jim leaped out, grabbed the gun of the closer assassin, and struck an elbow to his chin. As they struggled for the gun, it went off, shattering a window. The other assassin tried to aim at them. Jim kicked the gun out of his hand and it flew out the window.

In the compartment, Blair, Derek, and Isabelle all looked at each other nervously. As Jim hit the first assassin, he got spun around and the second grabbed him from behind, knocking his sunglasses off. Blinded by the light, Jim was defenseless as the assassins punched him repeatedly before throwing him through the window.

They looked out the window but didn't see Jim hanging onto a chain underneath the train.

“He's hanging on the bottom of a train? With his senses all wonky? Oh come on,” Xander shouted.

“Saying you don't like it, pet?” Spike asked.

“Oh, I like it all right. I just don't believe it,” Xander replied.

The first assassin knocked on the door. Blair, standing on the other side, had the gun aimed straight forward. “Jim?” he asked.

“Maybe he's hurt,” Isabelle said.

“Oh, man. I'm going to have to shoot somebody,” Blair said. “OK,” he continued but, before he could do anything, the accountant leaped at him from the side and grabbed the gun away.

“Derek?” Isabelle shouted. “Derek, what are you doing?”

“Sit,” he told her, gesturing to the seat next to Blair with the gun. When she didn't move, he shouted, “Sit!” She moved across the compartment to the seat.

“Are you nuts, man?” Blair yelled.

Opening the door, the accountant let the two assassins in. “What the hell happened?” he asked.

“We threw him out the window,” the first assassin replied.

“You son of a bitch,” Blair shouted. The assassin replied with a 'you wound me so, not' look.

The accountant handcuffed Isabelle and Blair together, with the handcuff chain between the legs of their seat so they couldn't move.

“At least he's chained to a woman this time. That ought to make you feel more comfy.” When Xander didn't reply, he added, “Looks like you ate all your veggies. Pie?”

“Dessert?” Xander asked hopefully. “Hell yeah. Can you heat it up?”

“Yeah, I'll zap it in the microwave,” Spike replied.

“There's ice cream in the freezer,” Xander called out as Spike carried the plates to the kitchen.

“Hey,” Xander shouted, “You're missing Jim under the train again. Still with the sensory overload.”

Spike, returning with the pie, stopped and stood still at the bizarre scene on the tv.

Blair was working some knobs. Two mirror covered columns, that looked like disco balls only the wrong shape started spinning and flashing light. Jim flinched back. “Ah, come on.”

“What's with the disco lights?” Spike asked.

“Flashback,” Xander replied. “Blair training Jim to control his senses.”

“I... I don't like it,” Jim said.

“Fine. You're the one with the wacko senses. You don't want to learn to control it, no skin of my back, pal,” Blair replied.

“Oh, look, pet. Blair's got a cute nickname for Jim and we already know Jim calls Blair 'chief'. Tell me they aren't a couple.”

“'Pal' is not a cute nickname, blood breath.”

Spike smirked at the nickname until Xander noticed and blushed. Then Spike's smile got even wider.

Blair's face was between two columns as they spun and twinkled. It's all about breathing and concentration,” Blair said. He took a deep, audible breath in. “One step at a time. Zone out the light. Concentrate. Yeah, that's it. Zone out the light. There's only music.”

“So that new age hocus pocus helped him control his senses? See. Not only lovers. Soul mates.” Xander turned his head deliberately towards the tv and didn't say anything. Intrigued, Spike stared at him. Boy is acting differently tonight, he thought.

Blair looked up at his backpack, stowed above them. Leaning forward, he accidentally pulled on the cuffs, getting an “Ow. What are you doing?” from Isabelle in response.

“Backpack,” he replied. “I'm trying to get my Swiss Army Knife.”

As he reached up, she asked, “Why?”

“It's sort of a good luck charm. I got it for my bar mitzvah,” he replied.

“Great,” she whispered to herself, upset by his uselessness.

Dropping down and turning towards her, he shouted, “To see if we can use it to pick the locks on the cuffs.”

“Well, why didn't you say so?” she shouted back. “Let me move closer.” They squooshed together. “Can you reach it?”

His fingers mere inches away, he replied, “Almost, not quite.” She moved in closer. Their legs bumped together. Blair looked confused.

“See? Not only is he handcuffed to Isabelle but she's moving closer.” Xander said, trying to reclaim their casual banter.

“Yeah, yeah, but only to get at his knife,” Spike replied.

Xander smirked, having picked up the expression from Spike. “Get at his knife?”

“To pick the lock with, dolt” Spike replied.

As Isabelle's legs intertwined with Blair's, Spike crowed, “See that look? They're all entangled and Blair's freaked out. Told you he's after Jim.”

“Yeah, yeah. You're so smart, why hasn't one of them made a move yet?” Xander asked, carefully not looking in Spike's direction. Spike, sensing something different in the response, turned to consider Xander again.

“OK, let me try. I'm taller than you.” Blair gave Isabelle a 'how could you say that?' look in response. “Just give me a little slack here,” she added. Blair moved down to the floor, to give the cuffs as much slack as possible. She stood up, her torso inches from his face. As she reached for the backpack, her blouse slipped out of her skirt, baring her torso. Blair looked up with desire.

Xander's not making his usual 'look, they want the girl' comments, Spike noticed. Come to think of it, there's been a distinct lack of those comments all night. Not wanting to jinx it, Spike didn't say anything.


Interlude: Our Dinner With Joyce and Dawn

“So,” Joyce said as they sat down at the table, “what time will you be coming over tomorrow?”

Xander, who, under Joyce's watchful eye was piling green beans onto his plate dropped the spoon down and said, “What?”

Looking like someone who could no longer put off his inevitable doom, Spike replied, “If I get here around dusk, how long before dinner's ready?” Picking up the serving spoon, Spike started piling asparagus onto Dawn's plate.

“Hey!” she shouted.

“You need your veggies,” he replied.

“Mom,” Dawn whined.

“Spike's right, dear,” Joyce said, smiling affectionately at her daughter before answering Spike. “We'll be starting with a stir fry. It cooks quickly; most of the time will be taken up with prep work. Say twenty to thirty minutes.”

“What's going on?” Xander asked, looking confused, while Dawn cheerfully mashed blueberries onto her slice of pot roast.

Wincing at her daughter's odd food combination, Joyce told Xander, “I'm giving Spike cooking lessons. Just some basic recipes. You'll be joining us for dinner, of course.”

As Xander turned towards Spike, a look of awe flashed across his face. You're learning to cook... for me? he wondered. “Evil getting bored again?” he asked.

“Something like that,” Spike replied, relieved that Xander wasn't going to go overboard about it.

“Enough about that,” Dawn interrupted, bouncing in her chair. “Are you two kissing yet?”

Xander spewed soda across the table. “Are we what?”

“Dawn,” her mother admonished.

“Where would you even get an idea like that?” Xander asked.

“Oh, come on. Like you two aren't obviously into each other? Besides, I heard Spike tell Mom that he likes you,” Dawn babbled.

Oh no, Spike thought.

“Dawn Michelle Summers! You do not listen in on private conversations,” Joyce said.

“But Spike did. Oh,” she added, turning to Xander, “that was so cute the way he told you that girl thought you were a dork when really she said you were adorable and...” Dawn broke off as Xander stood up, a look of fury on his face.

“You. Lied.”

Spike sat there with his mouth open. No, no, no, he thought. 'I'm evil' SO isn't going to cover this.

Xander stormed out of the room. In the silence left in his wake, Dawn said, apologetically, “Oops?”

Spike tore out of his chair and followed Xander, hearing a shriek of “Grounded?” behind him as he stopped at the doorway to the living room. Xander stood, facing the window, his arms crossed.

“Xan?” he asked. Xander started shaking. “I...” he added, reaching his hand out towards Xander but afraid to draw near.

Xander turned and exploded with laughter, falling onto the couch. It took him a few minutes to get his laughter under control. Sitting up, he wiped his eyes and said, “You should see your face.”

“You... evil,” Spike said.

“Must have rubbed off from somewhere. Can't imagine how though. Not like I know anyone evil or anything,” Xander replied.

“So, you don't mind? About what I said and all?” Spike asked.

Xander started laughing again. In between, he managed to get out, “It's... OK. I don't... like... blonds.”

“There's one blond you'd better like,” Spike snarled as he sat next to Xander.

Xander thought about saying he used to have a thing for Buffy but figured, hey, don't piss off the vampire you're living with too much. Intertwining Spike's fingers with his, he simply said, “Yeah, there is.”

They gave each other goofy smiles for a moment before Xander asked, “And what did we learn from this?”

“Don't make the little bit eat her vegetables. Payback,” Spike replied, shaking his head from side-to-side.

7 Love and Nipple Rings

Holding hands, Spike and Xander strolled down the street, a couple of blocks past the Bronze, to a small shop in a row of brick buildings. A bell jingled above them as Spike pushed the door open.

Xander was relieved to see clean, white walls since he was about to get his first piercing. Only! Only piercing. How does Spike talk me into these things anyway? he asked himself.

Eying the racks of clothes to their right, Xander figured out where Spike had gotten the leather pants. They were a birthday present but Xander had never gotten to wear them out in public, not that he was in a rush to. As soon as he put them on, Spike was there dragging him off to the bed, the couch, the kitchen table.

Giving his head a shake, Xander looked around at the rest of the shop. On the wall to their left were pictures of tattoos. “What do you think about a tattoo, pet?” Spike asked. “While we're here and all.”

“Yeah, 'Love's Bitch' right across your forehead,” Xander snarked in response.

Spike tiptoed his fingers up Xander's arm. As he reached the bicep, he tapped at it and said, “Spike's b...” Quick as a whip, Xander shushed Spike with a finger to the lips. Snaking out his tongue, Spike started licking. Xander closed his eyes and lost himself in the sensation until he heard a cheerful, “Spike. Just on time.”

Dropping his hand and whirling around, Xander saw a woman sitting herself down on a stool behind the back counter. He thought she was in her mid-thirties but it was hard to tell. In Xander's experience, while people that old might wear jeans, they didn't tend to have Dio De Los Muertos t-shirts or purple hair.

“So, this is the infamous Xander,” she added.

“Yep. Nan, Xander. Xander, Nan,” Spike replied.

“What? Infamous?”

“Six months ago we weren't even dating and now we're getting matching nipple rings,” Spike proudly told Nan, as if she already didn't know.

“Spike, one more comment like that and I'm out the door,” Xander said as he looked down at the counter. Butt plugs? Spike must shop here a lot.

“Come on, luv. Not like it isn't true.”

“Look at that blush. He really is as adorable as you said,” Nan said as Xander moved towards her and away from the sex toys.

“Isn't he though?” Spike boasted happily before, after a moment's musing, took two striding steps to catch up to Xander, wrapped his arms around, and stuck his tongue out at Nan. “Mine.”

“Cut it out Spike,” Xander told him, slapping at Spike's arm to get his attention. “What do you think of these?” he asked, pointing out a set of plain gold rings.

“Too plain,” Spike replied. “Nipple rings should stand out. Tell the whole world: here I am. That's the whole point. Now these, these will do nicely.” He pointed to a set of silver rings with garnets dangling from them.

“Umm, no. Repeat after me. Masculine. We agreed. Masculine nipple rings.”

“But, garnets... look like drops of blood,” Spike replied.

“Jewelry is what it looks like. No way I'm wearing something that girly,” Xander commanded.

Spike sighed. Tried giving Xander the innocent Bambi eyes. That never worked, probably because Xander knew he wasn't innocent. “Fine,” he gloomed, thinking ahead to holidays.

Xander wasn't fooled. “You're just going to buy them for say, Valentine's Day, thinking I'll have to go along if they're a gift, aren't you?”

Damn, Xander knows me too well, he thought. “Well, after I'd gone to all that trouble to pick them out.”

“You just want them because they're different, so everybody will know we're together... And I can't believe I just said that because there's no way I'm wearing them out in public,” Xander replied.

Spike just smirked at him.

“Fine,” Xander sighed. “Let's see what they look like. But if I don't like them, I'm not wearing them.”
His smirk lifting up into a smile of victory, Spike replied, “Whatever you say, pet.”

The End

Sequel - Rerun

Gold lettering, across the opaque glass, read 'Personnel.' Inside a woman wearing a muted yellow sweater over dark pants handed a pile of papers to Blair. “When I'm done with this, I should qualify for a license to kill, huh?” While Blair laughed at his own joke, the woman frowned at Jim.

“Well, you've got a couple of hours here chief,” Jim said, “So I'm going to be leaving you here in Vera's capable hands,all right?”

As Blair muttered his agreement, Jim started to turn to leave but then sniffed the air and turned back. “Vera, is that White Shoulders that you're wearing?”

Embarrassedly rubbing her hands across her neck but also giving a pleased smile towards Jim, she asked, “It's not too much, is it?”

“Not at all,” Jim replied. “It's just that whenever I smell White Shoulders, it reminds me of my grandmother.”

“Your grandmother?” she asked, raising an eyebrow. “Don't you have someplace to go detective?” she added with a cold frown.

Blair grinned while Jim glanced between him and Vera, obviously knowing he'd said something wrong but not what.

Xander bolted up, spilling popcorn over both their laps. “Wait a minute,” he yelled. “No gay man would say something that, that unsuave.”

“Unsuave is not a word, pet,” Spike replied, caressing Xander's leg as he picked up popcorn pieces.

“Is too,” Xander replied.

“Is not,” Spike smirked.

“Not getting into an 'is-isn't' fight. You said Jim was gay but no gay man would say that. You lied.”

“Did I?” Spike leered.

Oops, accidentally turned on the boyfriend, Xander thought. Not that it was difficult; so many things did. Quickest way, though, was to imply Spike was, “Evil. You're evil,” he said huskily.

“Need to be punished then, don't I?”

They missed the rest of the show.

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