"Hey guys! What's up?" Xander bounced into the back room of the Magic Box, coming to a halt as he took in the faces of his waiting friends; Giles, Buffy, Dawn, Willow, even Anya. They were on one side of the table, solemn and serious. There was a lone chair on the opposite side of the table, facing them, and Buffy nodded to it. Xander sank into the chair cautiously, perching on the edge of the seat. "Um, guys? What's going on?" He looked from face to face, but no one would meet his eyes. Buffy looked pissed, Dawn worried, Anya determined, and Willow looked as if she'd been crying.
Giles finally said, "We're...concerned about you."
"Xander, you know you can talk to us. We're your friends," Buffy added. Dawn nodded madly from her place beside her sister.
Xander looked around in confusion.
"Why didn't you come to me, Xan? Believe me, I understand what you're going through." Willow's resolve face crumpled behind the tissue Buffy held out to her.
"Look, Xander. I didn't say anything while we were dating, because you appeared to have it under control. But it's clearly not anymore, and it has to stop."
"This is an intervention. You're an addict, and you need help. We're going to give it to you, whether you want it or not."
"I'm- What? What is it I'm supposed to be addicted to?"
"Chocolate. You're addicted to chocolate, Xander, and we're here to help." There were nods from all around the table.
"Ok. What exactly makes you think I'm addicted to anything, and what makes you think I'm addicted to chocolate?"
As one, the girls all turned to look at Giles, who cleared his throat.
"Well, Xander, there's, er, your family history, for one. The children of alc-"
"Spare me the lecture, Giles. We're not at school anymore and I've already heard it. What else?"
"You're secretive, and you've become a loner. You get here at the last minute, and only if we call and ask you to come, like tonight. When you are here, you're distracted. When's the last time you've spent time with us--with anyone--that didn't involve researching or slaying? And the minute we're done, you're gone again and don't say where you're going or what you're doing. Or you disappear in the middle of patrol, then come back later, with no explanation."
"And the chocolate part?"
"You're happy all the time," said Anya. "You were never like that when we were dating. And I've seen you drunk-you're a morose drunk, so it's not alcohol you have a problem with. It's something that makes you high. Like chocolate."
"You're bouncy. More than usual," said Willow.
"You've gained weight, and you space out a lot. And when you do, you've got a really doofy expression on your face," added Dawn.
"You're nice to Spike!" was Buffy's contribution.
Xander's first thought was that this probably wasn't the time to whip out the Aero bar in his jacket pocket.
"So let me get this straight. What it boils down to is, I've changed some of my habits, you've noticed, and you're blaming chocolate? That about right?"
"It's more than a few habits, Xander," Giles said sternly. "You've changed your whole lifestyle. You've even moved back into a basement apartment, even though you have a good job and are making good money. All the signs are there. Are you saying you're not addicted?"
"Yes. That's what I'm saying."
"Xander, stop denying it. Denial is bad. You need to hit bottom so we can reach out and help you," Anya said with exasperation.
"All right, let's look at this logically. Why is chocolate addictive?"
At this point, Willow joined the conversation. "Because it makes you feel good."
"Right. And why does it make you feel good?"
"Because the chemicals in chocolate mimic endorphins, and they make your brain go all rushy. And, um, there's something about sex chemicals in there too, that make you feel good."
"Right. So, another explanation for my mysterious behavior could be..." Xander paused, obviously waiting for someone to fill in the blank he'd left.
No one did. He sighed and started over.
"Wills, you've known me the longest. How do I act when I'm with someone?"
"Silly. You're over the moon. You bounce around a lot and you're... Are you saying you're not an addict, you're in love?"
"Give the witch a chocolate bar!"
Silence, and puzzled, disbelieving looks.
"Come on, guys, you know this. I know we've avoided talking about it, but I thought you were just not talking about it."
"You're in love? Why didn't you say something?!" Dawn jumped from her chair and rushed around the table to hug Xander. "That's so great! With who?"
"It's not that I don't believe you, Xan," began Buffy, "but-"
"You don't believe me."
"Well, yeah. With who? I mean..." Buffy trailed off.
Anya picked up the conversation. "You never acted like that when you were with me."
"Which might have something to do with why we broke up," Xander said pointedly.
The sound of the training room door being pushed open, followed by a familiar British voice, broke the tense silence. "Oi, Harris, sometime soon, eh? We-" Spike broke off as he caught sight of the tableau around the table. "Er, I'm interrupting?"
The chorus of agreement was silenced by Xander's firm, "No, you're not. In fact, you're just in time." He pulled Spike down into his lap, waggling his eyebrows in a way he hoped meant 'just play along', and proceeded to kiss the stuffing out of him.
Spike froze for one startled instant, then melted against him, returning the kiss with fervor. When they finally broke apart, Spike buried his face in the crook of Xander's neck and inhaled deeply.
Xander wasn't feeling very coherent himself. "Hey, you."
"Not that I mind putting on a show, but what was that in aid of?"
Giles cleared his throat as he put his glasses back on. "Are you saying, Xander, that you're involved with Spike?"
"Are you saying, Giles, that you honestly didn't know that before now?" He looked around the table at his friends, who were all displaying various expressions of shock and disbelief. "Wait... You mean none of you knew? You weren't just practicing 'if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all', you really didn't know?" He buried his face in Spike's shoulder, hiding his amusement. Spike didn't bother, and slid out of Xander's lap to land on the floor, where he lay gasping with laughter.
"No, we didn't know. How were we supposed to?" Buffy folded her arms over her chest and glared impartially at Spike, who was still laughing, and Xander, who was no longer hiding his grin.
"Gee, I dunno, Buffy. The fact that I've been living with Spike for months now might have given you a clue. And I've been being nice to him, maybe?"
"Living with- that's why you gave up that gorgeous apartment for another basement?" asked Anya.
"Yep. Sunlight issues."
"And the not hanging out with us is because you've been going home, or staying home, with Spike?" asked Willow.
"Yep. I went and got me a life, complete with a boyfriend."
"Which explains the spacing out, and the doofy expressions," added Dawn.
"Yep. And the weight gain; I'm actually at home to eat, not grabbing junk food on the run."
"And the disappearing during patrols, Xander?"
Xander just looked at Giles, with one eyebrow raised, until Giles bought a clue and blushed.
"Yep. But I only disappear if it's slow. Have I ever left anyone in the lurch?"
"So. Now you know. And frankly, the fact that you didn't before this--considering we haven't actually been trying to hide it--I find scary. You guys are supposed to be observant!" Xander stood up. "I hereby declare this intervention over. For the record, I love him, he loves me. Any more questions?" He looked around and cut off both Anya and Buffy as they opened their mouths to say something. "Tough. They'll have to wait until tomorrow. I've got a date and you guys have made me late." With that, Xander hauled Spike up off the floor and headed for the door.
Xander turned to see Willow barreling toward him. She hugged him fiercely, kissed his cheek, then rounded on Spike.
"I still have a shovel, mister, and I will use it if I have to. See that I don't, got it?"
Spike nodded. "Right, witch. I'll keep that in mind." He stood still while Willow studied his face, then in surprise when she kissed his cheek as well.
"Take good care of him, Spike," she said, hugging the startled vampire. "I kinda like you, too. I don't want to see him hurt, and I'd hate to have to come after you."
Spike tentatively hugged her back.
"Mush alert! C'mon, Wills, I'll let you threaten and embarrass him later, but we really have to be going now." He tugged Spike free of Willow's grip and pulled him bodily out the door. "See ya, guys!" he called over his shoulder.
On the street, Xander and Spike walked side by side, holding hands.
"Can you believe they really didn't know?"
"I wouldn't have if I hadn't seen their expressions for myself, pet. I wouldn't have missed that for the world!"
"You do realize the only reason we got out of there tonight was they were still surprised. We're really going to get the third degree tomorrow, if not tonight when we get back." Xander shuddered at the questioning he knew was coming. Hopefully Willow would short-circuit some of it with her acceptance.
"Yeah, I do. We'll deal with it then; I've got a plan. Right now, we've got a movie to see."
"Yep, and a steak with my name on it. Let's go!"
~later that night~
Spike looked out the one window in their living room to the headlights of a very familiar car sweeping across the parking lot. "They're coming, pet. Ready?"
"Yep. Places, everyone!" Xander answered with a snicker.
Xander took his place with his back against the front door and pulled Spike against him. The elevator's distinctive rattle and squeak as it reached their floor was their cue to begin their performance.
"Ah! God, Spike! Oh, yes, right there!" Xander moaned loudly.
"Mmm, pet, I love you like this. All slick and ready for me. Are you ready for me, pet?"
"Yeah, God, now, Spike, NOW!"
Xander muffled his laughter in Spike's shoulder as he thumped his butt on the door.
"Ah, oh yeah, just like that."
"Mmm, so good, pet."
Thump, thump thump. The door rattled in its frame.
"Oh! Oh! Oh!"
"Yeah, pet, squeeze me tight."
One last hard thump against the door, and they both switched from moaning loudly to panting loudly, grinning maniacally at each other all the while. There were footsteps outside their door hurrying away, followed swiftly by elevator noises. They both raced to the window and jockeyed for position, peering out in time to see Giles' car pull away from its parking spot with a squeal of rubber.
They collapsed on the couch, laughing until they cried. Eventually Xander sat up, pulled his t-shirt loose from his pants and used it to wipe the tears from his face.
"Oh my God. Spike, that was brilliant!
Spike sat up and copied the gesture. "Yeah, it was, an' I say it myself. Think next time they won't be so quick to drop in unannounced, nor this late at night." He grinned.
"Who all was out there, could you tell?"
"All of them, pet. All of them but the Nibblet." He grinned at Xander. "Rupert won't be able to look you in the eye for days."
They lounged for a few minutes, in a silence broken only by the occasional stray chuckle, then Xander stood up and held out his hand.
"So, Spike. Could I interest in you a repeat performance? Maybe horizontal this time, say, in bed? With actual action, not just sound effects?"
Spike took Xander's hand and stood. "Always, pet, always."