Word count: 1967
Disclaimer: Not mine. No profit made from this.
Prompt: For the batpack Birthday Palooza. Surprise
A/N: Thanks to vccv for the beta, you are awesome in ways I cannot express.
Summary: Six years after Sunnydale, Xander goes home to California only to find a familiar face in an unexpected place.
Audience or No Audience
Six years after Sunnydale fell into the mouth of hell, Xander Harris came back to California. Funnily enough, even after travelling the world, it was the only place that truly felt like home.
Oxnard County hadn't changed much since his days at the Fabulous Ladies Night Club, about the only difference he could see was the increase of supernatural activity. It made sense though, even with Sunnydale gone, the hell mouth still pulsed beneath the surface, and the evil was still drawn to its presence.
After unpacking his bags and taking a long, hot shower, Xander headed out into the blazing afternoon sun with one destination in mind - McDonalds. He was in the mood for some greasy American fast food, and where better to get it than the place that made it famous?
"Ah, the sweet smell of clogged arteries," Xander spoke aloud as he stepped inside the air-conditioned restaurant. The woman in front of him turned around with a strange look on her face, but one of Xander's disarming, boyish grins had her smiling within moments as well. "Been out of the country. I don't care what they say, McDonalds just doesn't taste the same in Japan."
The lady nodded and proceeded to the next available register, leaving Xander bouncing on his heels and studying the menu. He didn't know what he wanted to eat first.
Finally deciding on a Double Big Mac with extra sauce, a large fry and a thick chocolate shake, he made his way to the counter and ordered.
Back at his table, he inhaled the sweet, salty scent of hot fries and microwaved meat before unceremoniously shoving a handful of fries into his mouth then groaning with the best foodgasm he'd had in ages.
"And here I thought living abroad might have taught you some manners, Harris," a snide, faux-cockney accented voice drawled in his ear, causing Xander to choke on his mouthful of food and to reach desperately for his drink. Unfortunately, thick milkshakes aren't the best thing to reach for when one is choking.
"S-spike," Xander spluttered, once he'd finally managed to get some liquid in his mouth and swallow. "What the hell are you doing here?"
The vampire in question shrugged, snagged a fry from Xander's tray, tossed it into the air and caught it in his mouth before chewing smugly. "Been rumours of activity 'round these parts lately. I drew the short straw, and here I am." Spike's second attempt at fry thievery was thwarted as he asked, "and you? What bring you back to your old … stomping grounds?"
It was the way he paused mid sentence and then smirked afterwards that clued Xander in to the fact that Spike knew about his one time on stage as an emergency fill-in stripper. At one point in his life this would have mortified him, but he'd done worse things since then and so he merely shrugged, took a massive bite of his Big Mac, swiped the sauce dribbling down his chin with one finger - which he promptly stuck in his mouth and sucked clean - chewed and then answered with his mouth full, "Was homesick."
Spike grimaced - which made Xander chuckle, 'cause come on, a demon with a history of violence as bloody as Spike's getting squicked out over chewed hamburger? That was pretty funny - and then snagged a couple more fries, since Xander's hands were occupied with his burger, and preceded to eat them regardless of Xander's murderous glare.
"What I meant," Xander clarified once he had swallowed, "was what are you doing in McDonalds."
"Oh, that. Well, you see that girl over at the counter?" Spike gestured to a young girl with purple streaked hair and a nose ring. Xander nodded that he saw her. "She's a newbie, one of your lot I imagine. Saw her take out a couple of vamps the other the night and I've been keeping an eye on her since."
"Why didn't you call Giles? Or Andrew?" Xander asked, taking another huge, sloppy bite of his food and closing his eyes in bliss. There really was nothing quite like a Big Mac. Mmmmm.
"You want me to give you two a minute alone?" Spike's amused voice intruded on Xander's burger induced ecstasy.
"Nah, I don't mind an audience these days," Xander answered with a grin. "Makes it more exciting."
Spike's eyebrows rose in surprise before he chuckled, a low rumbling sound that did funny things to Xander's stomach. And other places south of his waistline.
"Not really, I always knew you had it in you. I heard all about you and Red and your Vampire selves. Demon takes on its personality from the host and all that."
Xander smirked, "Basic fact of most possessions, the hosts personality - especially the darker aspects of it - play a major role in the behaviour of the newly awakened demon. You should have seen me when the hyena spirit possessed me. Talk about your alpha male syndrome."
"Buffy hit you with a desk, right?"
"You know about that?"
"Slayer told me about it when we were engaged the one time. Told me a lot of things she never would have opened up about had she not been under a spell."
Xander detected the note of bitterness in Spike's voice and actually felt bad for him. Buffy was a tough woman to love. She held everything too close to the chest, afraid to open herself up and let others in. There was a time when he would have said he could live with that, if only she'd let him have whatever she was willing to share with him. Not now though, Xander had seen too much and experienced too much to settle for that. He wanted someone who would share everything with him, someone who wouldn't hold back their hopes and dreams, their affection, passion, love and devotion. He wanted a partner to share his life with, not just a lover to share his bed with.
"I hear you. Buff never was one for the deep emotional sharing."
"She still seeing the immortal?" Spike asked. "Not like I care or anything," he added quickly.
"Nope. Like most of her relationships, she managed to screw that one up too. He wanted to get married - can you believe that? The man's gonna live forever, never had a serious relationship in his many, many years, and he chooses Buffy to settle down with?" Xander shook his head at the absurdity. "She gave him some cockamamie story about cookies and left him standing with a perplexed look on his face."
Spike snorted. "Should count myself lucky, I guess. Least she never gave me excuses, just told me the truth - she could never love me."
"It's not you, I don't think Buffy has it in her to love anyone that way, not seriously, and not enough to make it last. She's too self involved. The only person Buffy loves unconditionally is Dawn."
"How is the bit?" Spike asked, obviously wanting a change of subject. "She still in Rome?"
"England. She's in her last year of University at Oxford, then she's going to spend a year with Giles training to be a watcher. It'll be a lucky girl that gets Dawn Summers as her mentor and guide." Spike nodded his agreement.
"Back to the girl though," Xander said, changing the subject once more. "Why haven't you contacted Giles?"
"Dead-boy? What's he got to do with this?"
"You heard about the crazy slayer that chopped off my arms, yeah?" At Xander's horrified look, Spike shook his head and continued, "Doesn't matter, the evil doctors at the evil law firm put them back on good as new. The point is, Angel was right pissed about the situation. He's angry because apparently Buffy doesn't trust him with her girls. Well, he wants to try and befriend this one, before the rest of the slayers can turn her against him."
"And you're okay with this?"
"Nope. But, seeing as he pays my bills… And now that you’re here, and you can call Giles, I can just sit back and watch the fun." Spike grinned and Xander laughed.
It was odd, Xander thought, sitting here in a McDonalds, in Oxnard County, talking to a vampire he once hated with a passion, but now found amusing and insightful. He wondered if Spike had always been this personable, and he had simply been too immature and blinded by a black and white outlook to see it, or if the soul had somehow humanized the demon sitting across from him, eating his last fry. He suspected it wasn't the latter.
It was almost funny in way, watching Angel and Buffy fight over this tough as nails, purple-haired, teenage girl as if she were an only child in a custody fight between divorcing parents.
Spike had already informed him that Angel was on his way come sunset, so when Xander called Giles, he made sure to imply that Buffy should handle this girl’s introduction to life as a slayer personally. He and Spike had simply sat back with a six-pack between them and watched the show.
Oh, it had started off as every meeting of the doomed lovers always did: making cow eyes at each other, then stilted conversation, followed by a soul-searing kiss, and then sliding into name calling and one-upmanship.
They were currently dancing circles around each other, each one waiting for the other to throw the first punch. Esme, the new slayer, had had enough of the posturing several minutes ago and had left to go home.
"Five bucks says Angel snaps first," Xander said with a grin.
Spike snorted. "Slayer'll hit first. I guarantee it. And five bucks?" Spike shook his head, "you can do better than that, can't you?"
"I dunno, Spike, this is Angel we're talking about. Her one true luuuurve, and all that. And what did you have in mind? More money?"
"It's exactly because it is Captain Forehead - nobody pushes her buttons quite like he does. And I don't need your money, Xander. The Ponce pays well enough."
"What then? Cause I still think Brood-boy is gonna snap first."
"What say we make it interesting? See how much these past six years have really changed you. You win, you can demand any forfeit you want, but if I win..."
"You go to bed with me."
Xander laughed. "Audience or no audience?" he asked shaking his head and smiling.
"Your choice. Me, I'm not exactly the shy type."
"You're on," Xander agreed and stuck out his hand. Spike took it, but instead of shaking it, he used it to pull Xander to him and press their lips together.
It wasn't much more than a brushing of mouth against mouth, but it held the promise of more to come. Xander licked his lips after it ended and nodded to where both Buffy and Angel stood, mouths hanging open and staring at them.
"Bugger," Spike muttered, "Guess now we won't know who'd've won."
Xander pondered for a moment, walked over to Buffy, took her slack hand in his, and then promptly smacked Angel in the face with it. Angel and Buffy both seemed to come out of their shock at the action and blinked at each other before watching as Xander crossed back over to a widely grinning Spike.
"Looks like you won, Blondie. Your place or mine?"
"Mine," Spike answered and taking Xander by the hand, pulled him toward the rental car he had waiting at the curb.
Several minutes after the two had departed, Buffy turned to Angel and asked, "Did they just...?"
Angel nodded. "They did."
"Apocalypse?" Buffy offered.
"You call Giles, I'll hit the books."
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