Cues and Balls


by
Estepheia



Xander can't remember the last time he went to the Bronze. Must have been some time last year.

It's weird, not in a good titillating or intriguing manner but in a puzzling kind of way: He and Willow and Buffy fought the Master, Angelus, the Mayor, even a hell-god, and those guys all had some nasty disaster on their agenda – but there was always time to hang out at the Bronze together. So what changed? Is it because the First Evil crisis is worse? Or is it because they're all grown-ups now?

Xander picks a table and sets down his beer. Friday night. All the tables should be taken, surrounded by clusters of high school kids and students, but there are several to choose from. The Bronze is dead, metaphorically speaking. Even the pool tables are deserted. The slow trickle of people visiting relatives somewhere out of town is turning into an actual exodus.

Maybe people in Sunnydale finally got smart.

Xander stares at the dance floor, and memories crowd him. All those Friday nights spent here hanging out with his friends, Willow, Buffy, Cordelia, later Faith, and finally Anya. Talking, dissing teachers, doing homework with one eye on the pretty girls on the dance floor.... The memory of Dawn in slut-wear, dancing and rubbing against that J.R. or R.J. guy like a lascivious kitten, pops up too but is quickly pushed aside. And all the Dingo-gigs. Oz being cool, Angel doing the dark-mysterious-stranger thing, usurping everybody's attention, even Cordelia's....

Those were the days. Maybe not better times, but definitely simpler. And they had their comforts. Being a loser didn't matter so much.

Xander finishes his beer, morosely wondering whether he should get another drink, a stronger one maybe, ignoring the nagging suspicion that this memory lane thing is really a fast lane to misery and a king sized hang-over, unless he gets out fast.

It's because he's thinking about leaving that he sees him arrive: Spike, wearing his goddamn duster. There is bravado in his prowl and he looks ready to take on the world. In other words, Spike is full of shit. Funny how Xander never realized before how much of a wuss Spike really is.

As Xander watches, Spike goes through the ritual of lighting himself a cigarette, while his gaze darts here and there, checking the place out. Their eyes meet and Spike freezes, lighter flame an inch away from his unlit smoke. Xander makes no move, doesn't even bat an eyelid.

After a moment that seems to take forever, and yeah, that's a clichιd way of putting it, Spike moves the flame closer, inhales deeply, snaps his lighter shut and heads towards the bar, with that spry, resolute gait of his. Moments later Spike reappears, a bottle of Bourbon dangling from his fingers, strides to one of the pool tables and starts racking the balls for a game of Eight Ball. When he's done, he glances towards Xander, his face a blank mask.

It's an invitation of sorts.

Xander slides off his stool and joins Spike at the table. Spike hands him a cue-stick, then digs two shot glasses out of his duster pockets.

They get through the first game without saying a single word. Spike wins, as usual. Xander empties the contents of his pockets onto their table, dollar bills and change. There are enough quarters for the table so they keep playing. Xander's game becomes more reckless, more devil may care. Ironically, fortune smiles upon him tonight and his riskier shots pay off. At the end of his inning he's actually in the lead.

"What's up?" Spike finally asks, handing Xander another drink. He grabs his cue and strolls towards the pool table.

There's no point in denial so Xander tells him: "Got laid off today."

Spike shrugs and bends over the table, lithe and smooth. "Happens to the best," he mumbles, causing the cigarette between his lips to bob. "Whole sodding town's closin' shop."

Xander watches him sink two balls in succession, studies the liquid movements, the way Spike's fingers clasp the cue-stick. The knuckles are lacerated.

Xander has a thing about hands. Hands can make things, carve, cut, and file, paint, draw and write. They can stroke softly or ball into fists.

Spike's hands are strong, bony in a shapely way. Fingernails bitten painfully short though. No polish. Not since Buffy's death. Xander wonders, not for the first time, whether the blade that cut through the roof of the Winnebago left any permanent scars when Spike caught it with his bare hands. And he knows his mind is only going there because he's drinking.

When Spike pauses to knock back another Bourbon, Xander nods at the bruised knuckles. "What happened?" he asks.

Spike studies his spread fingers as if seeing them for the first time. "Demon," he says with the curt shrug of manly dismissal.

"Is it toast?"

Spike braces his shoulder and starts to nod but halfway through it turns into a disgusted head-shake. "Landed a good punch or two, but the fella'd brought his mates."

"So you ran?" Xander savors the moment.

"Yeah, I ran," Spike mutters, surprising Xander with his honesty.

"Well, if you'd gotten yourself killed by a bunch of run-of-the-mill demons it would have been a waste of ... I don't know... your talents?"

"Talents." Spike snorts. He bends over the table again for a complicated shot that could win him the game. The white ball criss-crosses across the green, perfectly on course, hits the eight ball and sends it spinning towards the middle pocket. The two men watch as the ball hits the pocket, but doesn't go in. Too much force behind the shot.

"Bollocks." Spike steps back.

Instead of moving towards his chance for victory, Xander continues to stare at Spike, the word 'talents' echoing disturbingly in his mind. Suddenly Xander becomes aware that he's absentmindedly caressing his cue-stick in a pumping motion and stills his hand.

Too late. Spike's eyebrow arches upwards and his lips take on a wicked curve. "You gonna kiss me again?" he asks flippantly and tilts his head.

"What?" A sudden chill trickles down Xander's spine, followed by a white-hot chaser of intense panic. "Kiss? Who me? You? Again? Huh? What now?"

"You've forgotten." Spike states, studying his face. "Thought you might have."

"You're making this up."

Spike purses his lips and bats his eyelashes. Just once.

Xander takes a hasty step back and raises his hands. "Oh no, no way. Kiss you, Spike? Never. Not in a zillion years. Nope." He lifts his right index finger: "First, you're a guy, with guy parts and not enough boobs"— left index finger – "and second, you're of the evil undead persuasion. I repeat." Right finger: "Guy." Left finger: "Undead." He seesaws both hands in front of Spike's face. "Equals no kissage. Got it?"

"Two out of three. Not bad." Spike nods evenly. He hooks the thumb of his right hand into the waistband of his pants, fingers fanned out over his crotch.

Xander forcibly tears his gaze away and wills himself to relax. It has to be a joke, right? Right? "Heh, yeah, good one, Spike. You almost had me there."

Spike just shrugs. "Your turn." He gestures with his cue-stick.

Xander shakes his head, moves around the table. One more ball and he can go for the eight ball. He lines up for the shot, taking aim. Then straightens again. "When? This supposed kiss, which I don't believe in – not even for a second – when do you claim this lip-lock thing took place?"

"Late summer 2001. After patrol." Spike answers promptly. "The others'd buggered off for home already, except you and me, we stayed. Played a few rounds of pool. First we got shitfaced, then we got into each other's face. In the end you took a swing at yours truly, but stumbled. Grabbed me for balance, then stuck your tongue down my throat for a round of spit swapping."

Xander hastily goes through his memories. Getting drunk with Spike? Well, it happened, about three or four times. Until Anya put a stop to it, after finding Xander snoring peacefully on the balcony one morning with no memory of how he'd managed to climb all the way up to the second floor....

"A nice story, Spike. And that's all it is: a story. With your imagination you should have been a writer."

"'S true. Warbled something 'bout a guy called Larry and commitment blah engagement blah. Then you passed out with your hands inside my pants."

Larry? How the hell does Spike know about—

And then the rest of Spike's words sink in and Xander's jaw drops. "With my—?"

"Hands inside my pants." Spike affirms. There's an evil spark in his eye.

"And... uh... where were your hands when... when this happened?"

"Wouldn't you just like to know? Your turn."

"Huh?"

"The game?"

Xander blinks and stares vacantly at the table. It takes his brain a moment to switch back into Eight Ball mode. He is two shots away from victory. But his heart is racing and his skin feels hot and clammy. The cue-stick feels slippery, but that's because his palms are suddenly sweaty. How on earth is he supposed to hit the—

Oh, so that's it? "Spike, you dastardly fiend."

"You talking to me?" Spike launches into a perfect 'who, me?' pantomime, glancing around searchingly and looking like innocence incarnate.

"I'm gonna win this game, even if it's the last thing I do. And nothing you'll do or say will stop me, not even your entertaining but completely fabricated little fable."

"Nothing? You willing to bet on that?" Spike asks.

If Xander's alarm bells weren't clamoring already they'd go off now. He's seen what Spike gets up to when there's something at stake, had a front row seat during the crazy summer of Buffy's death, when he and Spike were ... well, not friends but something-other-than-sworn-enemies.

"Oh no. No betting," Xander tells him emphatically.

"Why not? Spices things up a bit. A hundred quid say there's no way you're going to win this game...."

"Since when do you have any money?"

"Since none of your business."

Maybe it's a British thing, maybe it's sheer obstinacy - of which Spike obviously has more than a fair share - but when it comes to a wager there's nothing Spike won't stoop to: no trick too low, no stunt too foolhardy.

"Spike, I'm not betting against you. Ever."

Spike snorts. "Afraid I'll distract you with my wicked wiles?"

"As if you wouldn't try."

"Oh please. Besides, even if I did, what's the worst that could happen?"

"Uh...." Xander swallows, as a tantalizing worst-case scenario worms itself under his skin: Spike's hands tugging on his clothes, slipping under his shirt and dipping underneath the waistband of Xander's pants.... Guh!

Spike gives him a heavy-lidded look that is entirely too knowing. "Chicken." It turns into a slow, languid once-over, gliding over Xander's body like an ice-cube over hot skin, leaving goose-bumps and a hard-on in its wake.

It's not like Spike hasn't done this before, three centuries ago or so, while usurping Xander's basement, turning on the innuendo and doing that... that goose-bumpy thing with his eyes to make Xander fluster. It's a normal part of Spike's repertoire of mind games, along with calling him loser-boy and making digs about Xander's inability to hold a job longer than a few weeks. But it's never before been so unequivocal. Never moved into the realm of possibility.

Xander's response lies somewhere between a determined head-shake, supposed to shake off the disturbing effect Spike is having on him, and a breathless shudder. He licks his suddenly parched lips. "Spike, for the last time: I'm not betting against you. I've seen the things you do to win."

"Yeah? Like what?"

"Remember that one time you set your hand on fire?" Xander asks, trying to steer the conversation away from the pitfalls that seem to open up all around him. "For two hundred bucks?"

"Oh that." Spike says with a dismissive shrug. He pops a few peanuts into his mouth and chews noisily.

Xander watches Spike's lips move, watches blunt teeth come down, crunching the nuts, watches the pink tongue dart out as Spike licks the salt off his fingertips. He swallows, hard. "Yeah that."

"I won, didn't I? Been on fire before. Knew I could handle three seconds."

"You were so drunk you were barely able to count. But that's not what I mean. I'm talking about the fact that you should have staked that vamp right away, instead of suggesting that stupid bet."

"And dust all that lovely dosh he'd been waving around? A vamp's gotta live as well, you know."

It is a old argument, comfortable like a pair of well-worn slippers, harking back to simpler times. Xander follows the script to the letter: "If you hadn't warned him about your presence it wouldn't have take you three tries to stake him. You almost ended up in an ashtray. And for what? A dumb bet."

That would be Spike's cue to slap one hand on his chest, bat his sooty lashes and coo 'Why Xander, I didn't know you cared.' Or something like that. But instead Spike studies his own shoes and scratches his eyebrow with his thumbnail, before glancing up, wicked smile and evil glint fleetingly brushed aside by an almost sheepish grin.

"Yeah well, whoever said I'm smart? If my decision making skills amounted to anything, you guys would've been blood on toast ages ago."

Okay, that isn't exactly front page news, but still. Flanked by the Spike's fable about the-kiss-Xander-still-doesn't-believe-in, and framed by tonight's blatant glances, this tiny, unprecedented snippet of self-depreciation still stands out like a sore thumb.

Xander squints at the vampire. "Who are you? And what happened to the real Spike?"

Predictably, Spike flips him off.

Okay maybe not so predictably, because it's been a while since Spike gave him his trademark two-fingered salute. What Xander is unprepared for are the warm fuzzies that come with the gesture, and the dopey grin that threatens to appear on his face. It's not the bourbon, that's for sure, because let's face it: all drink does is make Xander mean or morose or both. Nope, it's nostalgia. Sheer unadulterated schmaltz. And at only twenty-two that's kind of disturbing.

"Look who's dipping into the classics," Xander smokescreens.

"Not much else to dip into these days," Spike mutters, barely loud enough for Xander to hear.

Is that supposed to be innuendo again? Or is Xander's brain entirely on the wrong track? He wrenches his eyes away from the fidgety vampire and peers at the pool table. Two shots.

"A hundred?"

"That's what I said." Spike has his hands full, topping their drinks with the practiced ease of more than a century of diligent drinking. The smoke from the cigarette between his lips curls up into a wispy-gray halo.

"Deal." Xander bends over the table and before Spike has a chance to double entendre Xander's blood pressure through the roof, he makes his shot. The white ball dashes across the green felt and with a sharp click ricochets the last striped ball into the corner pocket.

Xander straightens up and grins at his opponent. "Start counting."

"Oi!" Brassed off, Spike tosses his smoke to the floor and struts towards him. And suddenly he's inside of Xander's personal bubble, their bodies and faces mere inches apart.

It's a familiar perspective, this face-off, with its own pre-programmed choreography. Cue for goading insults, then punches, and finally a punishing migraine for Spike. But the chip's gone and so is Xander's desire to hurt. Been there, done that. Time to change his tune.

"Hey, too close!" is all Xander comes up with, but he doesn't back off

"Seein' that you're one hundred per cent straight, that shouldn't really bother you, now should it?" Spike slowly tilts his head as if taking aim and his gaze flickers down to Xander's lips then up again. Dark blue eyes bore into Xander's.

"That kiss...." Xander says haltingly. "If what you say is true -- and I'm not saying it is, this is hypothetical, right? -- so if it really happened, why did you never bring it up? You had almost two years to rub it in."

Spike flashes him a wicked smirk. "Was savin' the story for a rainy day," he answers smoothly. "Reckoned one day you'd cough up a few quid if I threatened to regale Anya with the details."

The revelation should probably annoy Xander, but deep down it doesn't. Not really. After all, that's just the way Spike is. Was. Maybe still is. And besides, Xander's barely listening anyway. He's too busy watching Spike's lips and tongue move to form the words.

For a fleeting, breathtaking second, Xander teeters on the edge of doubt, then finally concedes that the story has to be true after all and that Xander really kissed Spike in a fit of muddled lust. Because he's a hair's breadth away from doing it now. Maybe he always was.

Too bad he can't remember what Spike tasted like.

But. . .he's already done it once. What's to stop him from doing it again?

"But then—" Spike breaks off, searching Xander's face. And the evil glint is abruptly snuffed, replaced by what? Irritation? Disgust? In any case, Spike turns away, giving Xander more room to breathe, breaking the spell.

"Then what?"

"Bugger!" Spike mutters. "I really have gone soft."

"What do you mean?"

What follows is a fascinating pantomime. Spike paces. Stops. Rubs his neck. Flashes Xander a rueful grin. "'S a wind-up. Classic."

"Huh?"

"That kiss? Never happened. Was just pullin' your leg. Been wanting to spring that one on you for ages. When I saw you—you looked kind of—well, tonight seemed like a good time...." Spike peters off uncertainly.

Xander glares at the vampire. At least Spike has the decency to look vaguely guilty. But why ruin a perfectly good whopper with sudden honesty?

"I knew it!" Xander exclaims into the lengthening silence, hitting his palm with his fist for emphasis.

Spike blinks, then squares his shoulders, contrition giving way to skepticism. "Oh yeah?"

"Come on Spike, my tongue in your mouth? I'm sure I would have remembered." Xander says, pointedly keeping his eyes glued to Spike's lips.

"Damn straight, you would've." Spike preens, picks up their glasses, and hands Xander his drink.

Xander sips, then puts it down to walk round the table for his final shot, the one that will earn him a hundred bucks and an earful of profanities from Spike.

It's not an easy shot, so he has every right to take his time.

As he's leaning over the table calculating angles, Xander finds himself surreptitiously peering along the length of his cue-stick, past the white cue ball and the black eight, to watch his orally fixated vampire pal stick yet another cigarette between his lips. It suddenly occurs to Xander that he's having a great time. He lost his job, the First is still working on Mission Devour, and he's horny as hell, but he's having a ball.

Meanwhile, Spike is frisking his coat pockets, before he spots his lighter, which happens to be lying on the table edge, right next to Xander. "Pass the lighter, will ya?" The unlit cigarette bobs precariously.

With an exaggerated sigh, Xander tosses it in Spike's direction.

"Thanks, mate." Spike catches it smoothly, lights up and then, heavy-lidded bedroom eyes locked on Xander, Spike exhales with the profound satisfaction traditionally reserved for a post-coital smoke.

Xander's mouth goes dry. His dick feels like it's just grown another inch. Maybe it has.

Okay, no big deal, he reminds himself. It may feel like there's a big red neon arrow blinking and pointing at his crotch, but in truth, the rest of the world has better things to do than stare at the bulge in his pants.

He bends down with renewed determination, takes aim ....

"Who's Larry?"

*Clunk!* The cue ball veers wildly off course, missing the eight by several inches but Xander is lucky, because it bounces off the cushion, and touches the eight on the rebound. Not a foul, but both balls roll out three inches apart, leaving Spike with a shot that's so easy, even a deaf, dumb, and blind granny could do it. Possibly with her arms tied behind her back as well.

Twirling his cue stick like a baton, Spike saunters toward the table, smirking like a shark closing in for the kill.

Xander stabs an accusing finger at his companion but a grin tugs at the corners of his mouth. "You, Spike, are a devious man."

"Think nothing of it. Just doin' my job." Spike looks utterly pleased with himself. "So, who is he?" He bends over the table to drive the final nail into Xander's coffin.

Xander frowns. He's about to lose a hundred bucks. But this isn't about money. It's a matter of principle. A battle of balls, if you will. And guess what? Two can play this game. Xander's jaw sets.

Two brisk strides and he's standing behind Spike, close enough to press his hard-on against Spike's butt, just where the folds of the duster part. Sending a silent apology to Larry -- may he rest in peace and not come back as the First to haunt him -- Xander quickly bends forward until his lips brush Spike's ear. When he speaks his voice is low and smooth, the way Anya used to love it, and a direct imitation of Spike's seductive growl – even though he'll never admit to that: "Larry's the first guy to ever suck me off."

The cue-stick tears the felt and furrows a groove into the wood underneath, while the cue ball lies untouched. The only sound from Spike is a gasp that sends a surge of arousal through Xander, and the clatter of wood landing on the table.

For a moment they remain frozen, aware that the only thing to separate them are two layers of clothing. That and about two hundred other people.

Xander's insincere "Oops" comes out embarrassingly breathless.

With both palms flat on the table, Spike slowly pushes himself up, but without shoving Xander away. Instead, he's subtly increasing the pressure against the bulge in Xander's pants. It's an invitation, of sorts.

All Xander wants to do right now is yank down Spike's pants, reach around with his hand to grip Spike's erection, and ruthlessly grind his rock-hard dick against Spike's bare ass.

The image hits him like hot wax running down his spine. It takes all his self-control not to simply dry-hump Spike right there and right now.

He swallows. Twice. Then Xander snakes one arm round Spike's waist to reach for the stick. "My turn," he tells him, his voice thick. But he's still leaning against Spike, returning the pressure, even thrusting minutely. It's an answer of sorts.

Unfortunately this is too public even for Xander's sex-in-unusual-places kink, so he reluctantly steps back.

Spike turns around to face him, his movements smooth but far from casual. His chest is heaving and there's a wanton look on his face, with maybe just a hint of wariness. "Good one, Harris," Spike finally breaks the charged silence.

It takes Xander a moment to process Spike's remark. "Oh you mean my story about Larry? Nah, yours was better," Xander tells him, in the same tone they used when comparing their kills after patrol.

"Oh? Is that so?" Spike asks softly.

"Yea. It's a good story. In fact, it's so good it—" Xander falls silent.

"—It should be true?" Spike finishes the sentence.

Xander nods.

"Well, in that case...." Spike stops. Regards him. Then slips into his trademark leer. "In my story you snogged me in public so you shouldn't mind if I—"

Spike's eyes widen comically, when Xander shuts him up the only way he knows how: Without letting go of his cue stick, Xander grabs Spike by the lapels of his coat and kisses him. In public. In front of two hundred or so admittedly indifferent witnesses. On the mouth.

Lips! Cool. Masculine but soft. Inviting.

When Spike's lips part, Xander pulls back and lets go, smoothing the bunched up coat with a downward tug - nervous, not freaked. Okay, freaked too. But not overmuch. After all, nothing on earth could ever beat the intense mortification of suddenly standing in front of the whole chemistry class, butt naked. Or that unspeakable Oxnard incident.

They stare at each other.

"That took some balls," Spike finally states, a strange, almost awed look on his face, that quickly rearranges itself into a more cocky expression.

"Hey, is that a compliment? Cause it sure sounded like one," Xander babbles, feeling hot, and hard, and goofy and yeah, hot. Banter is good. Banter is safe.

"No!" Spike scoffs, frowning. "'Sides, you left out that thing with your hands inside my pants. Not that I wanna be nitpicky or anything. Just sayin'."

Which hands? Those hands? Xander's gaze drops to find that he's still holding on to the cue stick. He puts it on the table.

A moment later he's kissing Spike again. His hands seem to have developed a will of their own, because they are roaming underneath the folds of Spike's duster and cupping a firm ass, pulling him closer. Xander can feel Spike's dick against his thigh. It's as hard as his own. Oh god!

It's when he his fingers encounter cool, smooth skin instead of rough denim, that Xander realizes that one of his hands has found a way to sneak under the waistband of Spike's incredibly tight pants. His exploration is stopped only by the edge of the pool table that's digging into Spike's behind. "Like that?" he mutters against Spike's mouth.

"Uh-huh," is the muffled reply.

Xander always kisses with his eyes open. Spike apparently doesn't, because after widening almost comically when Xander dived at him again, his eyes fell shut, and whatever Spike is thinking is now hidden behind impossibly dark lashes.

A hand touches Xander's hip, moments later its twin slowly slides up his thigh, stroking him, gently at first, but with mounting urgency. Spike's body is hard and lean against him, masculine, so why does it feel so pliant? So malleable? Spike seems to fit into every nook and cranny of Xander's body, like a matching puzzle piece. There's either a disturbing amount of erotic skill at work here, or... or. No, that's what it is; a hundred years worth of practice. Obviously, experience goes a long way.

Xander finds himself enticed by Spike's lower lip, unable to resist the temptation to nibble and suck on it – but when Spike's tongue gently probes for entry, he freaks. It's not the intensity of his arousal – although there's that as well – but the way this kiss is rapidly making him feel all mushy inside. He jerks back, panting.

Spike releases him at once. For a second, Spike just stands there, like a mannequin or robot, arms frozen in a half embrace, eyes dark, a muscle jumping in his jaw. Then he lets his hands drop to his sides. His chest is heaving as if from physical exertion.

Flush with adrenaline, Xander can feel his heart thudding like mad. A shit-eating grin bubbles to the surface. He's kissed Spike! Twice. And he's probably going to regret it tomorrow, but right now it feels like the fourth of July and Halloween all rolled into one. On top of that, there's the rare pleasure of winning a game of pool against Spike when he's not already falling over with too much booze. Holy Moly!

He realizes Spike is staring at him, head tilted, eyes narrowed, as if he's trying to figure something out.

"You owe me a hundred bucks," Xander blurts out breathlessly. Okay, so it's a non sequitur, but he had to say something. Something that doesn't come out all wrong: silly, or panicky. Or worse: sappy.

For a second or so Spike looks dumbfounded, but then a wicked smile lights up his face. Punctuating each word with a light poke of his index finger against Xander's chest, Spike drawls: "You cheated, mate." The accusing fingertip comes to rest, then slowly slides downwards, toying with a shirt button without actually opening it.

Xander's mouth feels dry. He clears his throat. "No more than you did. Come on, pal. Pay up."

"You're an upstanding, card-carrying good guy. You're not supposed to cheat." The finger wanders south.

Xander licks his lips. "You're a ... you're part of the team, good by proxy, so you're not supposed to cheat, either. Suck it up, Spike. A hundred bucks."

"Suck, huh?" His voice is sultry and deep. "A hundred?" Spike hooks a finger inside the waistband of Xander's pants to keep him close. It's a fragile hold, more a petition than a demand. Xander's blood pressure surges. Other things surge, too.

He looks down to see Spike's thumb rub the button with small circular strokes. Eep! "Bucks, Spike. With a 'B.'" It comes out as a squeak. Xander struggles to transfer his attention away from the hypnotic movements of Spike's thumb and to his face.

"Bucks, yeah. What were you thinkin' about?" Spike gives him a toothy grin, flicking the tip of his tongue against gleaming teeth, then, sucking in his cheeks, he segues seamlessly into a pout that's so full of innuendo, it ought to have an NC-17 label slapped on to it. At least it gives Xander all kinds of ideas. Double eep!

That's when it happens. The pout melts into a goofy smile, and then Spike throws back his head and laughs. It's a sound somewhere between the whoop-of-a-monster-well-massacred and the bark-of-snark

Xander glowers, or tries to. But in truth, it feels good to see Spike so... vibrant. There's a French word for this. Joie-de-something.

Spike points at Xander's expression and grins, but when Xander starts to pull back in a huff, the smirk is gone in a flash and Spike's grip on Xander's waistband tightens. Xander could still break that hold, if he wanted to, but it's strong enough to be unequivocal.

Holding Xander's gaze, Spike pops the question: "Wanna play?"

'Wanna play?' How lame is that? This from the master of innuendo, Mr. Snark, the guy you sometimes wish had his mouth sewn shut?

Xander hides a grin. "If I say 'no' – what's gonna happen?"

Not that he's serious; Xander's hard, Spike's hard, they're both all growed up, and if necessary they can blame it all on the bourbon. Also, if this year's apocalypse doesn't get them, next year's probably will, which kinda puts things into perspective.

Except Spike doesn't get that the question's rhetorical or whatever, because he flinches, a look on his face like his skin's just been scraped raw. His fingers release their hold on Xander's waistband as if burnt.

Oh crap! Maybe Xander's the guy who's mouth should be sewn shut. He catches Spike's wrist, tightening his grip when Spike immediately struggles. "Wait! Let me finish. I'll tell you what would happen if I say no: You'll say you never fancied me anyway, that you're just taking the monkey or mickey, whatever that means. And that'd be the end of it. No harm, no foul. File under 'm' for 'mind games.'"

Spike lifts his chin. "I'd never—"

"Spike, didn't you hear what I just said?" Xander interrupts him, but continues more quietly, hoping to put Spike at ease: "That's not what I meant. I was just, you know, going through my options. I know you wouldn't—I do."

Spike relaxes minutely and he stops struggling.

"You ruined my speech," Xander tells him sternly. "Now for the answer behind door number two: I play dumb, say 'sure, 'pick up the triangle and pretend to rack the balls for another game, and then you say something crude about cues and balls."

"Better."

"Thank you."

"So, what's behind door number three?"

"'Your place or mine?'"

"That one I like."

"It's my favorite too." Xander transfers his hand from Spike's wrist to his thigh.

"You're a git. Why'd you go through the whole 'what if I say no' crap?"

"Dramatic tension?" Xander grins sheepishly.

"So that's the kind of guy you are," Spike purrs, yanking him closer, until their bodies are touching again. "First you nearly give me a heart attack and now you wanna give it to me?"

"Crude, Spike." Xander slides his hand underneath Spike's shirt again and encounters cool skin.

"So?" Spike is unfazed. "Where?"

"The apartment is full of potentials."

"Basement's not safe either."

Both heads turn simultaneously toward the back wall where two pictograms signify the way to the restrooms.

It's funny how sometimes there's no need for words. They head for the men's restroom with an ease and familiarity usually reserved for patrol. Inside, they wait silently until all the other patrons are gone before they barricade the door.

It's the most unromantic place Xander can think of, filthy, glaringly bright, and smelling of disinfectant, urine, and vomit. Seedy, and not in a good way. The ladies' restrooms Xander's been to (and no power on earth will make him elaborate on that) don't even come close.

At times like this, sarcasm is your friend. "Cozy."

"You should like it. 'S like your old basement. All it needs is a dab of eau du fabric softener."

"And my own tied up vamp as the cherry on top."

"Cherry? Speak for yourself." Spike smirks, but a note of naked hunger creeps into his features.

Music is seeping through the walls, almost but not quite loud enough to drown out the sound of their rapid breathing. For a moment Xander is not certain which one is faster, his pulse or the speed metal track.

When they dive at each other there's no awkward tangle, no clumsy groping or pawing; unerringly Xander's hands seek out Spike's neck and chin, trapping him for a fierce, bruising kiss, while Spike's dart just as inexorably underneath Xander's jacket and shirt - lightly brushing cool palms over heated skin. It's as if the years of enmity have given them both perfect aim.

Xander pushes his tongue into Spike's welcoming mouth, ruthless from pent-up desire. Spike's eyes fall shut. As Xander frantically fucks his mouth with his tongue, Spike's grip on Xander's back and ass becomes increasingly possessive. Spike starts to undulate his hips, thrust, thrust, shimmy, shimmy, rubbing their hard-ons and thighs together. It's like a parody of a dance. Xander is vaguely reminded of a table dancer and her... his pole, only now Xander's the pole.

Xander sucks on Spike's lower lip, worrying it with blunt teeth, hand buried in coarse hair that's been peroxided to death, tugging almost harshly on the gelled strands, while Spike's whole body seems to weld itself to Xander's, increasing the pressure and creating mind-blowing friction.

"Can you ... tell me one good reason ... why we didn't do this ... sooner?" Spike mutters between kisses.

"How about a) you were evil, b) I was with Anya and ... oh God... and c) we hate... hated ... each others' guts?" Xander chokes out.

"There's that." Spike grunts, underlining his words with more thrusts of his hips, rubbing their dicks against each other. Hard.

Where Spike's hands come into contact with Xander's bare skin it feels like it's being teased with ice cubes. It's not that Spike's hands are actually that cold. It's more the fact that they make Xander feel like he's burning up from the inside. Like he's on fire and Spike's the only one who can put it out.

Xander always thought he had good self-control, thanks to his sex-marathons with Anya, but the things Spike is doing to him are turning his legs to jelly.

A button popping from Xander's shirt, hitting the tiles and ricocheting away unheeded, is the first sign that maybe Spike is not quite as collected as one might expect from a vampire who's been around the block a few times, maybe even around the entire city.

Spike mumbles something unintelligible. His hand slides underneath Xander's waistband, sure fingers gently easing south. Xander's arousal reaches a fevered pitch and for a second his brain takes a time-out.

He can hear himself babbling, "God, Spike ... you're ... God, you make me crazy..."

The only thing keeping him from becoming a puddle of goo at Spike's beck and call is the stubborn will not to.

He grabs the lapels of Spike's coat and roughly steers him against the wall, trapping the thinner man between cold graffitied tiles and his own body. Then, in one fluid motion, he pulls the coat up and yanks it off Spike's shoulders, tugging it down -- collar first. Not all the way, just enough to leave Spike's elbows and lower arms trapped in the sleeves.

Spike doesn't object to the rough manhandling, on the contrary, he's breathing fast through his open mouth. A tiny moan escapes his throat. There's no sign of protest when Xander starts pulling the T-shirt over Spike's head, looping the material behind his neck, leather restraints now joined by cotton. The shirt hunches Spike's shoulders up a little higher, the resulting tension in his arms keeps the heavy leather coat from sliding down.

Xander pauses to drink in the image of the immobilized vampire. Hair almost white under cruel neon lights, spiky and unruly; heavy-lidded eyes dark with lust. The bare, smooth torso white like cream, nipples a dusky pink; chest rising and falling in a rapid rhythm. The sleeves of the T-shirt look like black straps against pale, well-sculpted arms and shoulders.

If he wanted to, Spike could easily break free; tear the leather or wriggle out of the sleeves. Instead, he gives Xander a languid come-fuck-me smile.

It's the undisguised arousal in Spike's gaze that does it: pressing Spike back against the tiles, Xander lowers his head and licks Spike's neck. His reward is a harsh intake of breath and better access to a sinewy, faintly scarred throat, as Spike arches his neck.

"God, yeah.... Oh, yeah, go on, there, yes...." Spike mutters, bucking against him, as Xander starts to suck and nip and bite with blunt teeth.

Slowly, inch by inch, Xander works his way downwards and starts to lick and chew on a pert nipple, while tweaking and rolling its twin between his fingers.

"Oh yeah, that's right, just like that. Bite – yeah, there ... harder...." Spike spurs him on, his voice getting huskier by the minute.

Xander trails his tongue south, over a flat stomach and rock-hard abs, dips into the navel, then south, following a wispy bit of dark blond hair to the waistband of Spike's pants, where he pauses.

Spike is looking at him, one eyebrow arched, the suave, cocky look only slightly ruined by the slackness of his jaw and the fact that he's kind of tied up in his own clothes.

"So, when that Larry guy sucked you off," Spike drawls, seemingly unconcerned that he's still slightly gasping, "did you return the favor? Ever had a cock in your mouth, Harris? Had one down your throat?"

It's a challenge, but it's also a kind of plea, too. Xander flashes Spike a smile that hopefully comes across as enigmatic, drops to his knees and pops the top button of Spike's pants, never taking his eyes off the other man's face.

Spike blinks, and a shiver seems to run through his body. His fingers twitch.

With torturously slow deliberation Xander pulls down the zipper.

Spike's erect cock slaps into his palm, long and hard, mere inches away from his mouth. Xander resolutely closes his fingers around the thick shaft. The secret to not freaking out is to turn off the inner censor – something life with Anya has given him oodles of practice at.

Keeping his eyes trained on the dumbstruck vampire, Xander gives the swollen head a long wet lick before taking Spike's length into his mouth, as deeply as he can manage.

He figures he's doing okay when Spike hisses an expletive and stares at him, wide eyed and dazed

"Didn't think you..." Spike breaks off when Xander gets to work. Chickening out is far from Xander's mind. He fumbles with Spike's pants, pulling them down for better access, then, with one firm, restraining hand on Spike's hip, he starts to suck and lick, getting used to the feel of Spike's dick in his mouth. Soft skin, slightly bitter taste, the tip kinda squishy against the roof of his mouth, while the shaft itself is rock-hard.

At first the need to concentrate dulls Xander's own arousal. But he's a fast learner, and he's good with his hands and mouth. When the body he's pleasuring tenses like a bowstring, it sends a shiver down his spine, and when a stream of expletives, moans, and whimpers issues from Spike's mouth, the words and noises shoot straight to his own cock.

"Oh shit... yeah, like that, oh god, suck me... yes..."

He could listen to this for hours.

Under Xander's restraining palm, muscles ripple and tremble with effort. Spike is trying very hard to keep still; not to buck or thrust into Xander's mouth. Considerate of him, but, well ... boring.

Xander redoubles his efforts, licks, sucks, slurps, runs his tongue up and down, scrapes the sensitive skin with blunt teeth, fondles Spike's balls - does all the things he enjoys, when it's his dick that's being sucked.

"Where did you--? Never mind... Xander... right there, don't stop...harder, yes... wait, you have to ... stop... I'm gonna... can't ...."

Xander stills his hand and pulls back with a loud, smug pop. Just in time. For a moment Spike teeters on the edge - a few thrusts of his hip or a flick of Xander's wrist would push him over. But then Spike visibly regains control: shivers, freezes, then relaxes with a shuddering sigh, blinking almost owlishly.

"If you think," Spike tells him, once he's got his breath back, "If you think I wanna pop all on my own, then you've got another thing coming."

"Good," Xander rises smoothly and reaches for his own fly. "I was hoping you'd say that."

Spike squints as if Xander has suddenly grown horns and a tail.

Xander takes his time. Belt, button, zip. Because, he has absolutely no idea what will happen next. Words like top and bottom, dom and sub tumble through his brain. Does Spike expect to do him? Xander's dick twitches at the thought and his breath hitches. Spike. Pressed against his back. Pushing inside of him, thicker and longer and harder than Anya's finger. Oh god. Spike. Grunting and thrusting, his fingers digging into Xander's thighs, words like 'fuck' and 'yeah' pouring out of his mouth.... Spike.

Desire washes over Xander like a blast of hot air, rapidly whittling away nervousness and doubt. Only, he's not sure he wants this. 'This' as in: here and now. Actually, he's darn sure he doesn't want this now, hot or no. Not a hurried, fumbling stand-up fuck in a smelly restroom. Not for his first time anyway.

So it's either Xander doing Spike – and, jeez, that scenario is hotter than hot – or a severe case of blue balls for both of them if Spike won't—

"Need a written invite?" Spike asks softly, a chuckle in his come-hither voice. "A manual, maybe?" He's leaning against the wall in a languid arc, shoulders braced against the tiles, hips thrust forward with a confidence Xander envies. Pretty cock-sure, considering he's the one who's tied up. Damn him. And now Spike straightens up with feline grace even though his arms are still twisted behind him and prowls towards Xander, who is standing there, holding his open pants up against the pull of gravity. Xander always carries too much stuff around; keys, cell phone, book of matches, a roll of LifeSavers, a Swiss-Army knife with fancy screwdrivers and a bottle opener, a stake (duh), comb, a condom – enough to fill a proper purse if he weren't too manly for one. No lube though, because he's not that kind of boy scout.

"'S easy," Spike murmurs. "Insert dick 1 into slot A. Or, if you want, insert dick 2 into slot B."

A fitting comeback dies on Xander's lips when Spike tilts his head and very carefully leans forward – and how does he do that, with his arms behind him and his balance shot? - until his lips graze Xander's. The kiss is soft and slow, the only place where their bodies touch, but still so very hot. Spike's tongue slips inside and Xander knows Spike can taste traces of himself in that kiss. "Do me," Spike whispers hoarsely, the movement of his lips a feather-light touch. "C'mon, Xander, fuck me. You know you want to."

And then the tip of Spike's cock nudges subtly against Xander's belly, silky and slick with precum and Xander's spit.

That's when Xander drops his pants. They plummet to the ground and land with a resounding crack. Bye bye cell phone, probably, but who gives a fuck when Xander's dick springs free and slaps against Spike's hard belly, heavy and moist. And besides, Xander needs both hands to pull Spike closer.

It's like lighting a fuse, sparks dancing down his spine. Xander rocks his hips – with more enthusiasm than skill, and it feels good, if a little awkward and unpredictable. But then Spike wriggles against him and somehow manages to align their cocks, until they're snug between their bodies, side-by-side, rubbing against each other with each shimmy of their hips. God, this feels good. Better than good. Incredible. Perfect fit.

"What about lube?" Xander asks, breathlessly.

"I'm a vampire, not a buggerin' boy scout," Spike scoffs. "Don't you have any?"

Xander shakes his head. "This carpenter may be equipped for... many eventualities, but this kind of...oh god ... this kind of assembly isn't one of them."

"Spit goes a long way," Spike suggests after a pause and moves to turn around.

Xander stops him. "This is good," he chokes out and maneuvers Spike backwards. 'Want to see your face, when we do this,' he almost says, but that would be telling. Does Spike have any idea how incredible he looks, with his mouth open, greedily gasping for air, lower lip jutting forward ever so enticingly?

Pinning his partner against the unyielding wall, one arm braced against a cracked tile, the other cupping Spike's firm ass, Xander starts to hump him in earnest. Rubs his rock-hard dick against Spike's while nuzzling and licking the creamy neck Spike is offering him. Feeling how hard Spike is, for him....

"Yeah... good," Spike moans, writhing underneath Xander's thrusts, rocking his hips against him for more friction. "Oh fuck, yeah, like that. Rub your cock against me, yeah. Fuck, you're so ...so ...fucking hot."

The stream of profanities - a change from Anya's more clinical instructions – is what Xander has come to expect from Spike. Dirty talk goes with the seedy environment. Sweet words would definitely be out of place – kind of like the dumbfounded, needy look in Spike's eyes, whenever his lids flutter open. As far as Xander is concerned, Spike just lost his bad ass credentials.

It doesn't take long until their cocks are slick with precum. It takes a moment longer to register with Xander that something is missing and what it is—and how much he wants it. So he reaches behind Spike, groping for the leather collar and giving it a sharp tug. The coat comes off easily. One toss and it lands on one of the sinks. At least it doesn't end up on the floor. The T-shirt is next, leaving Xander with more skin to touch and lick and bite.

"Well now," Spike gasps in breathy amusement. "Want me to touch you, do you?" A moment later, Spike's hands are on him, strong, sure, experienced, but they don't reach for his dick, at least not yet – and is that a pang of disappointment? Instead, Spike pushes Xander's jacket off. A moment later Spike's duster gets company.

Then things get kinda hazy as Xander's arousal reaches new heights. It's as if Spike has suddenly turned into goddamn a mind reader, because his hands, tongue, and lips roam wherever Xander wants them, when Xander wants them there, kneading, licking, teasing. Xander barely notices his control slipping away....

Eventually, Spike captures Xander's right hand and guides it between them, closing Xander's finger around both their cocks, then brings his own hands into play. Like a potter forming clay on the wheel, Spike creates a tight channel that's both hot and cold in all the right ways. He starts to pump and stroke - deliberately slow at first, but soon picking up speed, up and down, up and down.

There's banging against the door, but the noise doesn't register with Xander. He's too busy groaning, and babbling, as he's straining towards his release. Telling Spike how gorgeous he is, how good his skin feels. It's one big sappy babble-fest, and five minutes from now he'll probably want to die of mortification, but right now his mouth and his dick are on the same page.

Spike's face is a mask of concentration, brow furrowed, teeth digging into that luscious lower lip, when he's not talking. But that irresistible, filthy mouth of his never stays still for long. "Yeah, that's it, luv. I can feel you're close. So close," he gasps. "Such a nice cock you have, nice and hard. That all for me? Feels good in my hand, so fucking good.... Come on, Xan... oh fuck yeah ...Come for me...."

That's when Xander's fuse runs out.

Wetness erupts between them, sticky and viscous. Xander comes with a loud, drawn-out shout.

It feels like an explosion. Not mere fireworks, this is more a Big Bang kind of deal, complete with pulsing stars and galaxies hurtling in all directions, on and on and on. Xander barely notices it when Spike arches impossibly against him, climaxing a few seconds later. There's a feeling of vastness and time stretching like an old chewing gum. It's how Xander always imagined Zen to work. Making the blink of an eye last a dozen heartbeats - or a hundred. Does Zen make your limbs go all wobbly?

Xander's legs sure feel like they're about to go on strike, but a strong arm wraps itself around his waist, supporting him. Holding him. It's enough to turn Xander into a big, heavy, sweaty blanket. There's embarrassment, somewhere in the back of his head, telling him that draping himself over Spike like this is just going to be fodder for mocking later on. But for now he's just content to rest his forehead against Spike's neck, breathing in his scent of booze and tobacco, and feeling an occasional little aftershock ripple through Spike's body. Breathing. In and out. Feeling mushy.

That's when the banging against the door gets enormously loud, the ruckus peppered with curses.

Reluctantly, Xander pulls back, eyes darting back and forth between the silent vampire and the barricaded door. Spike, on the other hand, doesn't even glance at the noise. His sudden, preternatural stillness, more than the lukewarm feel of his skin, marks him as something not quite human. A challenge in his gaze, Spike slowly lifts one hand to his mouth, licks his palm and then pops two fingers into his mouth. The sight of Spike lapping up their come and sucking on two fingers doesn't exactly improve Xander's ability – or inclination - to think coherent thoughts.

"Spike...." Xander whispers, uncertain if he's scolding or begging, and the banging keeps on... banging.

A mischievous smile lights up Spike's face. A moment later, Xander is pushed against the wall, shocked into a semblance of soberness by the cold tiles against his bare back, while Spike is on his knees, his slightly raspy tongue delving into all the right nooks and crannies, as he quickly and efficiently licks Xander clean.

Is it any wonder that Xander's cock stays half-hard, even grows hard again?

Then Spike's mouth is on Xander's, no longer just peanut-bourbon-tobacco flavored, but tasting of sex and lust. Xander shoves his tongue inside Spike's mouth to savor the taste. He's not surprised that Spike is hard against him as well.

However, voices can be heard above the din, angry voices. Xander can make out "Fucking queers," and "let's kick some ass."

The sound of heavy bodies slamming against the door puts a stop to the idea of an encore. Xander hastily pulls up his pants, just in time before the hinges give way, the door slams to the ground and three broad-shouldered, hulky looking guys barrel into the restroom - football jocks from the looks of it. Xander can practically see jibes about faggots perch on their lips, ready to be hurled - maybe along with some punches - but apparently all righteous anger flees in the face of naked Spike.

The way the three jocks are ogling him, open-mouthed and kinda dumb-struck, they'll require a lot of manly posturing later to reestablish their het-cred. Xander can't blame them. He's had Spike's dick in his hand, in his mouth for god's sake, so by rights he should be impervious to him, kind of inoculated, but he still finds it near impossible to wrench his eyes away from the glorious nakedness.

Unfazed, Spike bends down with lithe grace, hooks his fingers into the belt loops of his pants, shimmies them over his hips, then calmly tucks his hard-on away.

And why is it that Spike getting dressed is sexier than a score of girls getting naked?

Okay, that's probably a question for later. Much later.

Nervous laughter bursts forth, before Xander can keep it in. Three heads swivel to give him a once over and dismiss him as insignificant.

"Hi guys, thank god you're here." Undaunted, Xander slaps on his brightest smile and sidesteps to the sink to surreptitiously scoop up their clothes. "It's not what you think. I mean, I know what it looks like, but trust me, that's not what happened. Would you believe that some guy brought us here at gunpoint, barricaded the door, forced us to take off our shirts – my friend here had to lose his pants, too – and then – poof – beamed out of the room, leaving us trapped in here?"

Very very slowly Spike cranes his head to look at him. 'Beamed out?' he mouths silently, putting a world of derision and pity into a slight raising of his eyebrows. Xander ignores Spike's 'eh?'-face and tosses the T-shirt in his direction. Spike catches it smoothly, and after a moment of deliberation, pulls it over his head.

Meanwhile, fists unclench and brows furrow, as the three jocks, who are less accustomed to Xander's run-on rhetoric than Spike is, try to make sense of what they've just heard.

"Is this guy for real?" one of them asks no one in particular.

Xander's endearing grin never falters, although he uses their confusion to put on his own shirt, the buttons skewed but mostly closed. "There we were, trapped. Two men, stranded without drink or women, minutes feeling like months...." He grabs Spike by the wrist and starts to edge towards the exit, dragging and shoving Spike along, always staying between the vampire and the three football players.

"And you all know what happens, when men are incarcerated together for a long time," Xander blathers, on a roll. "They turn towards each other for comfort. I mean we've all seen the movies, right? Believe me, this morning, when I woke up I was as straight as they come and look at me now. If I were you, I'd make sure that door stays open. Come along Spike, lets leave these nice gents alone so they can ... uh... relieve themselves in peace."

Leaving three befuddled jocks behind, Xander manhandles a grinning Spike out of the restroom, all the way out of the Bronze and into the dark alley behind the building.

"That was way too close. Did you see those biceps?" Xander beams, riding the adrenaline high.

"You do realize I could've wiped the floor with them without breakin' a sweat," Spike tells him with a dismissive shrug.

Xander blinks. Er, no. He'd honestly forgotten that Spike's no longer in need of protection from humans. "Then why didn't you?"

"What? And miss that babble-fest? That's prime blackmail material. Got the whole speech memorized." Spike raps his knuckles against one temple.

"I hate you." Xander tries the words on for size. They carry neither venom nor conviction. In fact, they feel downright wrong.

Blue eyes bore into brown eyes, searchingly. "No, you don't."

"No, I don't." Xander smiles pleasantly.

"I need my coat."

Wordlessly, Xander hands over the duster.

Spike puts it on the way a hero dons his cape, then spoils the moment by hastily searching his pockets. He unearths a pack of cigarettes and his lighter.

Is it a measure of the whole wow-ness of sex with Spike that Xander feels like having the clichιd post-coital cigarette? "Spike? May I—?"

"What happened to lung cancer?"

"Do you honestly think either of us is gonna last long enough to watch me die of natural causes?"

"That's the spirit." Spike sticks two cigarettes between his lips, lights them, inhales greedily, then passes one to Xander who takes a tentative drag, coughs, and tries to fan some of the smoke away from his face.

Spike smirks. "If you want a fag after a bit of frottage, what'll happen if we ever do it for real, proper fucking and the works? Bring out the chains and whips? I'll corrupt you yet."

'Proper fucking and the works?' Yes please. But...

"About that...I was thinking...." Xander eyes the cigarette in his hand critically, then drops it and stomps it out. Smoke on its own, without the taste of Spike? No thanks.

"Thinking? 'Bout what?" A note of wariness creeps into Spike's good cheer.

"About us. Except there's no 'us,' I mean, not yet, so I guess the whole world doesn't need to know about 'us' when there's no real 'us' to talk about. Yet."

Wariness turns into understanding, then anger. A muscle in Spike's jaw jumps. "Yeah right, I get it. That's my cue, innit?"

"The what now?"

"Cue. As in: my cue to skedaddle. Lemme guess, you'll say 'forget this ever happened, Spike.' Or 'if you tell anyone about this I'll stake you,' and then, like a good fluffy puppy, I'm supposed to follow the script an' bugger off."

"Script? What script?" Xander's wide-eyed gaze darts around, left, right, downwards, then upwards before returning to Spike: "There's a script now? Why didn't anybody tell me? What's it say, what's my line?" But then he hastily drops the panic act, because there's nothing funny about the hurt and fury in Spike's eyes.

Spike whirls around but and marches off, but Xander hurries after him. "No cue, no script," he blurts out. "Please."

Spike stops. Slowly turns to face him, radiating tension. But he's listening, thank god.

"Spike, let me put it this way. We're kind of in the middle of an apocalypse here. So could we save the coming out act and the all my friends freaking out part for later? Give me some time to get used to ... to all this." Xander waves his arms in the air in a broad sweeping gesture.

Spike's expression softens. His frown melts fully when Xander takes his face between both hands and pulls him closer. A kiss is a kiss is a kiss, or something like that. It's also a language of its own, and what Xander can't put into words he communicates mouth-to-mouth. It's a wet, greedy kiss that quickly mutates into a classic tongue duel that threatens to make Xander's knees buckle, but it's also subtly laced with promise.

Naturally, Xander's hands end up in Spike's pants.


* * * * * * * * *



They reach Xander's apartment condo in what can only be described as an amiable afterglow. Spike lights himself another cigarette and smirks. "Don't worry, mate, don't have to invite me up for coffee. How many girls you got stayin' up there?"

"Four."

"An' the neighbors haven't called the cops yet? What is the world coming to?"

Spike doesn't wait for an answer, just waves his hand in mute greeting and walks away in brisk, buoyant strides.

"Hey Spike, haven't you forgotten something?" Xander calls after him.

Spike wheels around with a flourish. "Like what?"

"Like my money. Dollars. One hundred."

Spike pats his pockets, hands lingering suggestively when he reaches the ones in his pants. Xander watches, mesmerized by the way Spike's pink tongue peeks out through gleaming teeth. Spike flashes him a rueful smile that's 100 per cent bullshit. "Listen, d' you take IOUs? Cause I'm in a bit of a tight spot right now."

"You bet money you don't have?"

"Well, duh." The look on Spike's face is briefly caught somewhere between defiant and sheepish. "Didn't expect you to win, now did I?"

"What about the drinks? And your smokes?" Xander knows Buffy buys him blood, but he can't see Spike asking for pocket money for his 'booze and fags.'

"Wood decided to put the 'pal' in 'principal.'" At Xander's look Spike elaborates with a self-satisfied smirk. "Swiped his wallet, when he set me up. Spoils of war."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Wood on our side?" Xander manages to say.

"Fine. Call it a loan then. I'll pay him back." Spike starts walking backwards, a wicked smile on his face. "If you make me." Blows him a kiss that's half serious and half mocking, turns, and swaggers back to Revello Drive like the cat that got the canary.





The End






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