Rating: NC-17ish mostly for language
Beta: kitty_poker1 who we all love and revere.
Disclaimers: The characters belong to Joss Whedon and Co. The story is entirely mine.
Summary: Xander's no longer a demon magnet. Spike notices.
Author's Notes: Written for the Batpack's Valentine's Day Challenge--first kiss. The story takes place immediately after the season 4 episode "Something Blue" and goes swiftly AU.
A Functional Level of Abnormality
“This is ridiculous,” Xander grumbled aloud. “I’ve been sitting on this grave for three hours and nothing. Not a demon, warlock, or syphilis-inducing spirit to be found—nada. I haven’t even seen a vamp besides Spike in five days. I should’ve known nothing’s a coincidence on the Hellmouth. Say you’re invisible one too many times, and poof, there you go.” He stood and began pacing back and forth over the freshly-filled plot, then stopped and sat down again, resting his head in his hands. "Let your friends call you a demon magnet every day for years, and that’s what you damn well are. Or were. How was I supposed to know I'd miss it?”
Xander started as a shadow scurried quickly behind a mausoleum to his left. He jumped to his feet in hot pursuit, unreasonably gleeful that something was lurking about. “Maybe this new theory is just that. A theory. I mean, we’ve had quiet weeks in Sunnyhell before. Some days here and there with no impending apocalypse or . . .”
His words trailed off into silence as he realized that the creepy crawlie he’d run after so desperately was a . . . squirrel. A fluffy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little rodent who cocked its head in interest at the forlorn young man.
“Oh, fuck. Who’m I kidding? Xander Harris, demon magnet no more. And it’s all Willow’s fault. That stupid MyWillBeDone spell.” He sighed and closed his eyes as he remembered the moment a week ago that had changed his life forever.
Xander helped Anya to her feet, glaring at Willow. “What the hell did you think you were doing? You could have killed us all.”
Willow shrugged, helplessly, guiltily. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”
Xander ignored her and turned to leave. As he dragged Anya from the crypt, he could hear Buffy gagging and saying, “Spike lips. Lips of Spike,” followed by copious amounts of spitting.
Back in his parents’ basement, Anya turned to regard him curiously. “Xander, did you do something? Cut your hair, maybe?”
“No.” He sat patiently while Anya examined his hair, lifting the dark locks and sifting them through her fingers. For all he knew, this was a prelude to one of her sex games—Xander-gets-his-hair-cut-and-is-endowed-with-supernatural-sex-abilities. Kind of a reverse Sampson.
“Well, then, what? You did something. Are you shorter? I didn’t think humans could control their height.” Anya’s brow furrowed, and she lightly ran her fingertips down Xander’s forearms. Xander felt a niggling worry start in the back of his mind.
“Anya, nothing’s different. I didn’t cut my hair; I’m not shorter.” She sat back from him, frowning. The niggling worry blossomed into a full-blown wiggins. “What’s going on, Anya? You’re being really fucking weird.”
Anya smiled, one of her big plasticene grins, and patted his thigh reassuringly. “Nothing, Xander. I must be imagining things, or once again proving myself inadequate at adapting to human life. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really must be getting home.”
Xander sat non-plussed after she’d left. “She didn’t even demand orgasms from me or suggest that we have sex somewhere scarily inappropriate. What the hell is wrong with her?”
Two days later, and Xander still had no answer. In fact, he hadn’t seen Anya at all since she’d left the basement. He shrugged out of his work clothes and started to head for the shower when a note propped on the bed caught his eye. He read—
I know it’s proper form to break up with your boyfriend gently in person, but according to my Harlequin romance novels, a Dear John letter is also an acceptable means of ending a relationship. Why it’s called Dear John when you’re Xander, I won’t pretend to understand. But I digress . . . I have recently realized that Sunnydale is not the place for me. I am not interested in dodging apocalypses for the remainder of my mortal life. I would much rather move somewhere exotic and ingratiate myself into a circle of the rich and famous. Don’t worry about me; I’ll be fine. I wish you well, Xander. Try not to let the Hellmouth snap you up.
P.S. Is it your weight? You’ve lost weight?
Xander put the note down in shock. Anya was gone. For good. He spoke aloud, welcoming the sound of his own voice as he tried to understand this new development. “This is too abrupt. Weird. And her reasoning is off, even for Anya. She left the Hellmouth once and came back, already. She knew then what this place is. If it freaked her out, she’d have just stayed away the first time. I always thought she kinda liked Sunnydale because she could explore being human without having to deny the whole thousand years as a demon thing. She wanted me, strangely and despite my best efforts, the girl really wanted me. So why the fuck did she really leave? She keeps saying I’m different. Maybe she left because of me. Something about me. But nothing’s different. I haven’t changed anything. What could have changed in two days?”
Two days. “Two days ago, Willow mojoed me into the demon magnet everyone's always said I am. And then she took it back, reversed the spell. What if . . . What if . . .” Xander sat down on the bed, his hands trembling slightly. “C’mon, Xan-man. Get it together. Go on a couple solo patrols; take a stroll alone through a cemetery or two. You’ll see. You’re the same ole bit of demon catnip you always were.”
So he’d done just that—wandered all over Sunnydale by himself. By the third solo patrol, he’d gone weaponless, just to tempt fate. Not one demon took the bait.
Xander snapped back to the present as a pale figure entered his peripheral vision. His fingers reflexively went to his back pocket for the ever-present stake that, oh shit, wasn’t present. Xander relaxed when he realized the figure in question was only Spike.
“Spike, why aren't you in Giles’ bathtub?”
“Rupert let me out for a bit of a leg stretch. I’m on my way back just now.”
“And why would you go back?”
Spike growled. “Bastard kept my duster hostage for insurance.” The vampire moved to stalk past him but, at the last second, stopped to lean conversationally on a nearby headstone. “What the bleedin’ hell are you doing sitting alone in a graveyard at one in the morning, Harris?”
“None of your business, Fangless. It’s official Scooby recon. Very important.” Xander stopped when he noticed that Spike hadn’t heard a word he’d said. The vampire was looking at him with a quizzical expression on his face.
“Something different about you, boy. Can’t put my finger on it, but . . . you’re not quite the same.” Spike took a step in his direction.
Xander nearly screamed in frustration. “Well, damn it! If I needed confirmation, there’s my fucking confirmation.” The young man nearly ran out of the graveyard. If he had glanced back over his shoulder he would’ve seen that Spike quietly watched him go, rousing himself only when Xander’s retreating form was no longer apparent even to his preternatural vision.
Xander stormed into the Magic Box. He’d thought about his predicament all night long and decided that the solution to his problem could only come from its source. Willow was standing behind the counter with Giles, discussing the finer points of the use of a magical relic that vaguely resembled an amputated human ear. Xander grabbed her arm and dragged her through the shop to Buffy’s training room.
“Hey!” Willow protested, rubbing her arm. “Why the Neanderthal routine?”
“You, Willow Rosenberg, dearest friend, have ruined me. And now you are going to fix it.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Xander?” Willow began to inch slowly away, as if she was a little frightened of him.
“Remember your little MyWillBeDone spell? Specifically, the part where you made me into demon crack? Well, when you reversed the spell, you changed me. That whole demon magnet joke is apparently true. I have some sort of demon magnet quality that you stripped from me when you undid the spell. It’s why Anya left me. It’s why I haven’t seen a demon in a week, even when I wander all by my lonesome, weaponless, by a known vamp nest.” His voice lowered and turned plaintive. “Please, fix it, Willow. Make me the way I was.”
“Xander, you can’t know any of this for sure. Maybe these are all just coincidences. And I can’t stress enough how much the idea of you tempting every vamp in town to kill you scares me.” Willows eyes were wide with shock, and her hands trembled slightly where they tightly bunched the fabric of her skirt.
Xander stepped back from his oldest friend and took a seat on one of the benches Giles had placed next to the training room wall. “Willow, I promise you I’m right. Even Spike noticed I’m different. Can’t you just fix me?”
Willow sat beside Xander, sympathy coloring her expression. “No, I can’t. I’m not convinced there’s anything that needs to be fixed, and even if I was, I still don’t think I’d do it. For one thing, my spells almost always go wonky. I might screw up again, and I don’t want to hurt you, Xander, despite what probably feels like my best attempts to do that. On the other hand, if you really were a demon magnet, now you’re free. I’m sorry Anya left; I really, really am. But now you don’t have to worry that the next big nastie’ll be beating a path to your basement door. You can be normal.”
“This is the Hellmouth, Will. Nothing’s ever normal.”
“Well, okay, then. A more functional level of abnormality.” With the benefit of many years’ observation, Willow could see Xander’s anger evaporate and a kind of acceptance begin to take its place. She leaned forward to hug him, and they rested that way for a long minute until she pulled back and looked at him questioningly. Xander managed a wan smile and climbed the stairs behind the witch.
As the pair re-entered the Magic Shop proper, Giles walked out from behind the counter. “Xander, I’ve been meaning to ask you something. Would you mind taking Spike for the next few days? I’ve a friend coming for a visit, and I’d prefer not to spend our time together concocting a plausible explanation for the man chained to my bathtub.”
“Sure thing, Giles. Whatever. I’ll be by your place to fetch Blondie later.” Xander continued glumly to the shop door and let himself quietly out.
“Well, that was rather less the ordeal than I’d anticipated,” Giles commented before turning back to his examination of the Relic of Anghoya.
“What? You’re not tying me up then, Harris?” Spike looked at Xander, confusion softening the angles of his pale face.
“No, Spike. I’m not tying you up.”
When no further explanation was forthcoming, Spike took a closer look at Xander, who squirmed under the scrutiny. “What, Spike?!”
“Don’t get your knickers in a twist, boy. Still trying to figure out what’s off about you. Must be something major to deny yourself the pleasure of tying me down to that shitty chair.” Spike crossed the room and sat next to Xander on the couch, almost close enough to invade the human’s personal space. Xander forced himself to sit calmly. I want to know for sure, goddamnit, and if Spike’s the only one who can tell me . . .
Spike ran his eyes appraisingly over Xander before pronouncing, “You’re all quiet.”
“Well, yeah, Spike. The not talking usually equals the quiet.”
“No, you git. You’ve always had this . . . buzz about you, like white noise or something. Incessant and loud. Pinpricks on the skin. Drove me off my fucking nut. Made me want to slap you or bite you. Mostly bite you. Just sink right in and drink down that warm . . .”
Xander interrupted, “Okay, Spike. Murderous fantasy getting to be a bit much for me.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.” The vampire didn’t look the least bit sorry, but continued in a less gory vein. “That noise was maddening, but intoxicating. Screwed with my head a bit. I could see it working on your demon bird. She felt it, too. But now it’s gone. You’re all quiet.”
Xander sighed. “So it’s true, then. I was a demon magnet.”
Spike blinked at him in surprise. “Well, yeah, mate. I thought you knew that. Seemed bloody obvious to me. Why d’you care anyway? I’d think a bloke on the Hellmouth’d be glad to get shed of that particular quality.”
Xander didn’t know why he was suddenly being so honest and friendly with Spike, of all vampires, but something compelled him to answer the question honestly. “Anya left.”
Spike looked at him with what Xander could almost imagine was compassion. “I see. We’ve got more in common than I thought then, whelp. I wasn’t demon magnet enough to keep Dru, either.” Spike took a long pull from the flask he’d sequestered in his coat pocket. Silently, he offered it to Xander. The young man hesitated, then gingerly drank a small mouthful of whiskey, barely managing not to sputter said mouthful all over himself.
“Gah. Spike. That’s . . . That’s foul! If you’re gonna be staying here any length of time, we are so making a beer run. ‘Cause that shit is gross.” Xander gagged a few more times for added emphasis.
“Oi, Harris! Trying to have a heartfelt with you here, and you ruin the moment. C’mon nancy boy. Let’s go get you some beer; something dark and imported to put hair on your chest.”
“Um . . . Spike? You don’t exactly have hair on your chest either.”
“Sod off, Harris.”
Xander laughed despite himself, and the pair walked out in the Sunnydale night.
“What’s your bid, Harris?” Spike tapped the table in front of him impatiently. The other demons shifted slightly in their chairs, amused. As dealer, Spike was forced to leave off bidding until all the other players had done so. As the penultimate bidder in the hand, Xander’s choice greatly impacted Spike’s playing potential.
Xander glanced around the table at the faces that had become familiar to him in the last month. Clem sat across the table from the young man. Xander had grown to really like the demon. He was sweet, funny, and surprisingly strong. Clem had a standing invitation to Spike and Xander’s Tuesday night Movie Extravaganza, often bringing with him a six-pack of Yoo-hoos for Xander and a bottle of Scotch to share with Spike. The other two players were less familiar, and Xander didn’t exactly plan on issuing them invitations to his parents’ basement anytime soon. Greg and Kyle seemed dangerous. They both looked human except that their eyes glowed an odd violet whenever they were angry. Spike said they were Walthrat demons, whatever they were. Xander had been meaning to look them up in one of Giles’ books but hadn’t found the time.
Xander trusted that Spike would never let anything happen to him, though. The initial qualms he’d felt at playing cards in a demon bar on a regular basis had quelled when he’d overheard Spike telling Greg, “No, Xander is not for sale. No, you cannot have just one nibble, and forget the Slayer; anyone who touches a hair on the boy’s head will have to answer to William the Bloody.” Despite Spike’s edict, Xander still didn’t want those two showing up when the vampire wasn’t around.
“I think I can win four tricks,” Xander said musingly.
Spike groaned. He had such a spectacular hand, entirely trumps, and now he’d have to throw most of the tricks just to stay in the game. When all was said and done, Xander had won his four tricks and forced Spike to win two more than the vampire had planned.
The young man fairly crowed with delight as he pulled the basket of kittens toward him. He’d just give them all to Clem later, but Greg and Kyle didn’t have to know. “And that, demons and gentlemen, is why the game’s called Fuck Your Neighbor.” He was grinning at Spike when he said it, and Xander realized belatedly as the vampire’s scowl turned into a leer exactly what he’d said. Suddenly, Xander had an amorphous vision of the two of them doing something naked in a bed surrounded by lots of candles and the vocal stylings of Soundgarden. He immediately blushed head to toe. Spike raised his eyebrow and deepened the leer, until Clem broke the mood by going to the bar for another round of drinks.
On the way back to Xander’s house, Spike seemed lost in thought, occasionally staring intently at Xander and then drifting off again. Finally, Xander broke the silence. “What, Spike?”
“Just never thought you’d be a bloody genius at cards, Harris. You’ve won most of the games I’ve brought you to. It’s surprising. You’re surprising.”
Xander felt an unaccountable feeling of pride at those words. He knew it was just a game, not rocket science, but Xander liked that he was good at something. More importantly, he liked that Spike noticed. Spike seemed to be commenting on more than just the game, though.
Xander tried to draw him out. “What do you mean, Spike? I find it hard to believe I can surprise the Big Bad.”
Spike smiled and answered, “It’s a feat, pet, believe me.” He took a drag from his cigarette and continued. “All this time, since I came back to Sunnydale, I’ve pegged you for the jester. The comic relief. Watched you gambol about like a day old pup and trip over your own feet. But that’s just an act, Harris. Underneath all those bad jokes is a man who reads Faulkner—don’t protest; I saw it under your pillow, pet. A man who takes a lick and always jumps back into the fight for more. Loyal, brave, smarter than your friends give you credit for. And you can win the pants off William the Bloody, even after a shot of Kreglian spirits. You oughta consider hustling, mate. Those big, brown eyes of yours just scream innocence and vulnerability.”
Xander laughed. “You’re surprising, too, Spike.”
“How’s that, pet?”
“Well, for starters, Giles always told us that vampires are pure evil, which used to make sense to me, considering Angel. When he lost his soul he was just . . . insane. Incapable of feeling anything except joy at hurting all of us. I know even when Deadboy is all soulful that’s locked up inside him, waiting to get out and finger-paint in our blood. You're different, Spike. You’ve done really horrible things, and I know you’d still be doing them without the chip. But even without a soul, you can love. You can make friends. Kinda turns my notions of vampirism upside down.”
Spike snorted. “It shouldn’t, Harris. Don’t confuse me with the rest of my lot. I am different from Angelus and most other vampires. As a species, we’re consumed with that crazed bloodlust. I feel it in me, but I also remember a little of what it means to be human. Someone once told me I reek of humanity; maybe I do. I don’t know what it means exactly.” Spike took another drag and seemed to lose himself in contemplation.
The two fell into companionable silence for the remainder of the walk. Xander didn’t know what Spike was thinking, but his own thoughts kept returning to that moment in the bar when he’d imagined Spike as his lover. Xander tried desperately to ignore the sneaking suspicion that getting rid of that particular image would prove very difficult indeed.
A few weeks later and Xander and Spike were spending almost every night together, drinking and watching movies. A comfortable camaraderie had developed between them. Spike’s first impulse wasn’t to verbally emasculate Xander Harris, and Xander had given up his distrust and dislike for the vampire much more easily than he’d ever have thought possible. The young man truly enjoyed the time they spent together, and the vampire seemed to share that feeling. Xander even admitted to himself that he would rather hang out with his roommate than the old gang. Spike seemed somehow more real, more honest than his fellow Scoobies. The fact that the vampire was a notorious liar should have made that feeling impossible, but it didn’t. Xander felt on some gut level that, while Spike might spin him some yarns, he would never bullshit him, and that seemed an important distinction.
More confusing to Xander than his new friendship was the strange turn his daydreams had taken. He’d stand in the shower, steam caressing his body, praying that the vampire couldn’t smell him through all that water, and resolutely turn his mind to Anya. Or Cordelia. Or, if he was in a particularly self-loathing mood, Faith. He’d close his eyes and slide his hand slowly up and down his cock, imagining Anya’s firm yet supple breasts in his hands; Cordelia bent over a table in the high school library, her cheerleader skirt hiked up over her perfect ass; Faith not slamming the door in his face. And every time, just as he’d begun to feel that familiar tension threaten to break, the women of his past would fade away, and he’d see instead a sardonic grin, a flash of whiteblonde curls, the curve of a pale spine, a mouth that he would beg to possess him. Spike. And Xander would bite his lip to keep from moaning that name as an orgasm wracked his body. After a few days of the same, Xander abandoned all pretense of fantasizing about girls and concentrated only on Spike. He found the results much more . . . satisfying.
However, his willingness to wank off to the thought of Spike’s flawless body trembling beneath his fingers began to affect other areas of Xander’s daily life. For instance, Xander frequently found himself staring at Spike dreamily, wondering what the vampire’s hair would look like a quarter inch longer and slightly darker. He constantly tried to draw him out, always eager for more of Spike’s back-in-the-day stories. Xander even forced himself to acquire a taste for Guinness (oh, ye gods of goat piss!) just to impress his undead roomie.
One Saturday morning, as he stepped from the shower and his now-customary ritual, Xander realized with startling clarity that he was infatuated with Spike. He gripped the sink tightly in shock.
I suppose all the imaginary blowjobs really should have been the first clue, huh, Xander? Oh, God, what am I gonna do? I’m lusting after the evil undead. Demons may not want me anymore, but apparently I still can’t get enough of them. And, last time I checked, not that I ever have, ‘cause that little exploration might’ve resulted in loss of life or limb, Spike’s not gay. And neither am I. Well, besides all the Spike-fantasizing, which, to be fair, hasn’t progressed too far beyond touching and blowjobs. Because, while I understand the concept of gay man sex theoretically, in practice, I have no clue and, Oh God, I think I also have feelings for him. Girly, cuddly, giggly ones. Xander stared wildly at his reflection in the mirror. Functional level of abnormality, my ass. Okay, breathe, Xander. You, buddy, are going to take charge of your life for once. You are going to seduce Spike.
Then Xander succumbed to a laughing fit so violent he almost slipped and cracked a hip on the wet bathroom floor. Xander “the Zeppo” Harris seducing William “I Ooze Sex From Every Pore” The Bloody! After a few more maniacal chuckles, Xander straightened up and pointed his finger at himself in the mirror. No more of that, pal. What’s the worst that could happen? Oh, God, I did not just think that.
That night, while Spike was out patrolling with Buffy, Xander desperately reviewed his plan of seduction. So far, it consisted of him not adopting any of the twenty one come-hither poses he’d practiced in the mirror or following any of the advice he’d read about gay relationships in the S&M chat room he’d found while trying to research male/male wooing. I am so not offering Spike an enema as an incentive to date me. Beyond these simple strategies, Xander had only—buy lots of beer and rent violent movies.
Before he could panic further, the basement door swung open, and Spike strode down the stairs, throwing his duster on the couch a few steps from the bottom. Xander managed to adopt a relatively normal face and asked the vampire if he wanted to make a movie run. He tried not to grin blindingly when Spike readily agreed.
At the video rental, the pair stood in line for several minutes before Xander realized he’d left his membership card in his car. He went out to the parking lot and dug around under several layers of clothes in the backseat until he emerged triumphantly with the plastic square. He turned to make his way back into the store, when something grabbed him from behind and dragged him into the alley next to the strip mall. Rough hands threw him against a dumpster, and Xander struggled to regain his feet and his breath. He looked up through eyes slitted in pain to see Greg and Kyle looming over him.
“We are sick and tired of losing all our cash to you, Harris. Next time Spike invites you to one of our card games, you remember this little conversation and tell him you don’t feel like it.”
Greg reached down to haul Xander back up from his feet, when he inexplicably found himself smeared into the brick wall of the alley. Ahh, Spike. My hero. Kyle was attempting to haul ass back out to the parking lot when Spike caught his arm with bone-wrenching strength. He held the demon by his throat and whispered softly into eyes welling with tears.
“I fucking told you both not to touch my boy. What happens to bad little demons who go around touching what belongs to me?” Spike paused for dramatic effect, then casually crushed Kyle’s windpipe.
I’m his boy! I’m his boy! He’s probably just saying that in the heat of the moment, but this moment will definitely play an integral part in tomorrow’s happy-fun-time-shower-jerkathon.
Spike let the lifeless body fall to the ground and reached out to steady Xander. “You okay, mate?”
“Yeah. Guess we’re gonna need new poker buddies.” Xander laughed but couldn’t help shuddering at what might’ve happened to him. “Thanks for sparing me the beating, Spike. I think I could kiss you right now.”
Spike replied, with a challenge in his eye, “Really? Why don’t you, then?”
Ha. I’ll show him. Xander backed the vampire up against the dumpster, took a breath, and slowly pressed his lips to Spike's. For one terrifying moment, Spike stood rigidly in his arms, but when Xander gently bit his bottom lip, Spike made a small noise of desire in the back of his throat and pulled Xander closer. Although the young man had initiated the kiss, the vampire was now in complete control, teasing Xander with that clever tongue, gently flicking the roof of his mouth, threading fingers through Xander’s hair.
When the kiss broke, Xander opened his eyes but kept his arms around Spike, who looked seriously at Xander. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that, pet. You’re a bloody fantastic kisser and eminently shaggable. But what’s the white hat doing throwing himself at the evil undead?”
Thinking about that for a moment, Xander decided the time had come to spill. “I seem to have developed a tiny, okay massive, crush on you.” The young man paused. What should I say next? That I keep having earth shattering wet dreams about him? That I want to be his boyfriend? That I looked up soccer rules on the Internet yesterday so I don’t look like such a dork on sports night?Without looking once at Spike, who was being uncharacteristically silent, Xander continued. “I also am really glad we became friends, Spike. I don’t want to risk that; I’d rather go on being your friend than nothing at all. So, we can just pretend this little confessional never happened if that’s what you’d rather. Walk away and never talk about it again. I know the rest of the gang would freak if they knew how I felt about you, and being attracted to a male vampire is virgin territory for me, in more ways than one." He paused again, but decided to plough on. He had to know. "So, Spike, whaddya think?”
“What do I think? Hmm. Let's see now . . .” And Spike pulled him down for another kiss that left them both panting and flushed with want. Both knew that the next day would be filled with decisions—what they were actually doing with each other and who they could trust to tell about it. Neither imagined for a moment that a relationship between them could be easy. But, as they again lost themselves in a passionate kiss, neither much cared.