Crazydiamondsue had a birthday, um, sometime this week. *pleads insanity and forgetfullness* She requested something S/X-y from me, and 'something' is what she got.
Please excuse the in coherencies. I'd say I'm nervous about my presentation in a few hours, but mostly I'm just too dizzy to think straight. It's weird.
Spander, unbeta'd, probably confusing, and probably no more than an R.

Holy Palmer

Lady Cat

Xander was familiar with kisses. He’d had a lot of them over the years, carefully hoarded and treasured, each memory slick and shiny from too much handling. He liked kisses, the intimacy and closeness they represented the way fucking never really came close to. Not that he’d understood that, way back when he’d first started his collection. He’d just always known that kissing was something he liked, wanted, sought out with something akin to desperation.

You could tell a lot about a person through their kiss. You could tell how interested they were, and if it truly meant something to them or not. Xander had learned that lesson early, perhaps the first he’d ever truly understood inside out and upside down the way school lessons never were. Xander’s first kiss had been an exploration, a game played to figure out this strange ritual of lips and tongue and wet, slimy touching others indulged in. He’d leaned forward, breath caught cold and sharp in his throat, excepting ... something. Some spark, blue-white light illuminating their faces with stark shadows as they shared something perfect. Special.

It hadn’t been perfect. That, Xander could have lived with, knowing just how inexperienced he was and grateful his partner had been just as inexperienced. But as they practiced, growing bolder, more assured with each slightly gross moment, he’d understood something. Xander was expecting angels to sing, the kind of deeply heaved, romantic sighs Willow indulged in to echo in his ears. He wanted his partner to look at him, to suddenly see him as no one else ever had before or would again.

But Jesse hadn’t wanted that. He’d just wanted to practice because he was trying to get a date with Hannah from the grade ahead of theirs, and she’d never date a boy who didn’t know how to kiss.

Xander remembered incorporating all of that and coming to a decision in the time it took for Jesse to blink once. He’d take Jesse’s kisses, enjoy the too sweet taste of him and the fumbling attempts at touching their tongues together, and he’d keep them. He’d hide them away, tucked inside the place he’d created for all the things he wanted that the world would never give him.

They’d only had a few of those make out sessions, the last stopping not because Jesse had finally scored with Hannah and had somebody better to practice with. That’s what he’d told Xander, halting and stumbling and painfully insecure. Xander had heard what he meant, though. I felt something, that last time. Something that made my heart beat so fast you could feel it, something that made my hands grab at your shoulders, trying to pull you closer. And I don’t know how to handle that.

That was when Xander had stopped being Jesse’s and Willow’s best friend, and became only Willow’s.

After Jesse came April. By then, Xander had incorporated that first lesson to heart and knew not to expect too much when April had taken his hand and dragged him behind the gym bleachers after school. She’d smelled like watermelon bubble gum and too much make up, but she’d known how to kiss. She’d taught him his second lesson over three or four weeks, painstakingly showing him each trick and tease she’d learned and then discovering a few more with him.

Their trysts weren’t exclusive. Xander knew April had taken a lot of guys behind the bleachers, but he still felt honored—at least he wasn’t the last to get there, taken out of pity and not for any real desire. Last to go had been Larry, surprisingly, although in retrospect that explained so very much. It wasn’t that she was a slut, either, or had some burning desire to tutor awkward growing males so their girlfriends wouldn’t get fed up with them. She just liked kissing, a kind of innocence in her touch that should have been corrupted by her actions.

Kissing April had been fun. It was playing, sweet candy kisses that didn’t mean anything but the tightening of their bellies and the chance to bump faces with someone else. It had been a bump, a hiccup in the road of Xander’s life, but when it was late and he wanted to remember something uncomplicated and pure, it was always April, behind the bleachers, her hair done up in pigtails and her top half-off, that Xander remembered.

The next set of memories always blurred in his mind, the relationships and results so intertwined that he couldn’t separate them easily. Sometimes it was Cordelia’s hard, lustful kisses, stuttering as she warred with her body’s desires and her mind’s mandates. Kissing Cordelia had been going to war, using every bit of his skill to persuade her to stop trying to run—or using those same skill to find purchase, a defense against the overwhelming need she locked so tightly away. Interspersed were Willow’s kisses, sweet and wrong and right in way that made his throat tighten years afterwards.

Cordelia and Willow taught him about communication, how you could gauge what the other person needed, wanted with a brush of lip, or a flicker of tongue. Their breath had told him of their fright, their need for reassurance, or when he was to hold still and take it like the good boy they both viewed him as. He’d learned how to fight back, learned to love the war for dominance as teeth and tongues rubbed, lips growing puffy from the heated exchanges. Kissing them, both of them, though he’d never tell Willow this, was like arguing. The give and take, Red Rover, Red Rover, sometimes demanding, sometimes cajoling, all the while dealing with the rising flush from inside his belly.

Sometimes it was hard to look at those memories, time ruining the innocence. Sometimes handling them, letting metaphysical fingers run over hair that was free of dye and a face that was still free of anything resembling concern was all that kept him sane. He’d loved these girls, both of them, their natures so opposite that together they formed the whole of what he thought his perfect woman should be.

Some of the kisses he couldn’t bear to remember, no matter that they still created a hot flush of lust ten years after their birth. Faith could give the dead a boner, but his memories of her were white hot and delicate to the touch. He ached for that girl, so full of sharp edges that Xander remembered cutting himself against her pain, her need driving into him far deeper than he’d been pulled into her. Remembering Anya was even worse. Her kisses had been mechanical at first, twisted through with an insecure tenderness that made his eyes sting and water if he stared at those memories for too long. There was anger there, oceans of anger that made the memories sharper, a bright light shone to create long, thin shadows that Xander couldn’t lose himself in.

There had been others, of course. Before Anya, after Faith, there had been the summer of Free Love. After Anya, and after a never to be mentioned fling with Faith, there had been the winter of alcohol-soaked kisses that never came into focus, no matter how hard he tried.

All kinds of kisses were tucked away in that little corner. Hard and needy, driven by the bodies needs, full of fire that felt like rage. Soft and tender, wrapped up in the mind’s wants, free of clay concerns. He’d shared kisses of friendship, the brush of lips against cheek or chastely closed mouths, the lingering love vanishing under the memories of kisses of hate, of emotion so strong that there was no other way to express it, fists too bloody, bodies too aching to do anything else.

Hundreds of times, thousands of variations, and Xander had never been kissed like this before.

Was it because he’d been expecting ... well, something like Faith’s driving need, the hurt that was so strong it had to pour out into some other vessel or cause an explosion? Anya’s hunger for touch, Willow’s dirty tricks, Cordelia’s need for control. Brad’s rough scrap of skin that wasn’t powdered and moisturized soft, but wasn’t as rough as his own lantern jaw. He’d expected aggression, taking. He’d been okay with that, more than happy to accept and give as he was directed to.

But this kiss wasn’t about need. It yanked him out of the Watcher’s main hall, far from bugged-out eyes and gasping inhalations, dropping him into a sun-dappled back yard with a hollow perfect for lying down and basking, hidden just enough that no parent could really see what they were doing. He was back with Jesse, nervously kneeling until crushed stems stained the knees of his jeans green, licking his lips and waiting for it to happen. It. He didn’t have words for it then, and didn’t now either. Just that there was going to be something, some new chapter, a fresh tablet, new and different about whatever came afterwards.

Xander smelled dust and burned char, the memory of Jesse’s touch haloed over the delicate pressure of hands against his shoulders. Lips that had tasted bitter chewed stems vanished from his mind, replaced by salt and cinnamon and something cold like cream. He knew he whimpered into the tender press of lips against his, only responding when a tongue touched his, April’s lessons kicking in without much thought.

This was what he’d wanted. That summer day when Jesse had gone from tentative exploration to heart-racing closeness, he’d pulled back so quickly Xander had nearly fallen onto his face and had felt that near-miss for years afterwards.

Now he fell into leather and a hard, wiry body that felt perfect against his own.

His lungs were burning when he finally pulled back, panting harshly into unnatural quiet. “Um,” he said intelligently. And then he smacked his partner’s shoulder, ignoring the wince it produced. “How long have I known you?” he demanded, the edge in his voice born of hysteria and joy. “Eight years. It took you eight years to finally do that?”

Spike’s chuckle had the same mix of hysteria and relief, swimming through the air until several younger Slayers shifted positions surreptitiously. Xander didn’t have to turn and glare at them—the older Slayers, the ones who’d seen Xander go through a succession of fucks since Sunnydale’s demise, the ones who knew Spike and what he meant to the Scoobies quelled the baby aggression and went back to watching. They liked watching. Xander knew they were forming their own memories now, and wondered if they’d hold this up as a litmus test for their own significant others. The one that would make them nod and say just right.

“Not sure you would’ve been so willing, four or five years ago,” Spike said. Travel weariness made his voice deeper, sorrow staining his skin.

Xander ignored all that in favor of eyes that said yes to every question Xander had. “That’s cause I was stupid. Come on.”

The crowds parted, Red Sea brushed apart by the hands of god, as Xander pulled Spike by the hand. Spike made an abortive grab for his luggage, Lianne grabbing it out of reach just in time. Clever girl. She smirked at them and made shooing motions that sent Spike’s eyebrows to his hairline. “Uh, Xander?”

“Home’s two building’s over.”

Spike didn’t stop, but Xander could feel his hesitation, every pore throbbing with it. “Home?”

Xander wasn’t letting go. “Yeah. Home. That place in which you live, where your stuff will be taken and new stuff bought for.”

They made it to the doorway without speaking. Xander knew it was shock and it’d wear off—but that was okay. Xander knew how to deal with shock. He’d kissed people out of it before and enjoyed those memories immensely. Pushing Spike’s back to the jamb he couldn’t pass without permission, Xander touched his mouth to Spike’s again and used wordless lips and soundless tongue to destroy the barrier.

He wanted new memories. Lots and lots of new memories and he wanted them now.

The End

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