Written for [info]electricalgwen Happy birthday electricalgwen!
Special thanks to [info]apreludetoanend for the awesome and quick beta.



Your Sinister Charm


by
Madame Meretrix


Spike stuffs more chow mein in his mouth with a groan of pleasure. Wong's always has the best.

"Hey. You're holding your chopsticks in your right hand."

Spike grunts in the affirmative.

Xander's staring at him, jaw rhythmically clenching and releasing as he finishes his mouthful of Mongolian beef.

Spike raises an eyebrow as he shovels another helping of the noodles into his mouth.

"It's just that I thought you were a leftie."

Spike swallows and shrugs. "S how I learned. Unlike yourself." He points his chopsticks at Xander. "They work much better if you don't stab your food."

"That's how I learned to use small, pointy pieces of wood." Xander smirks, "Does it make you nervous?"

"What, you holding chopsticks?" He chuckles. "Would you be nervous if I was using two handguns to eat my food?"

"You know, strangely, not so much. But why are you, anyway? Eating my food? I don't actually remember inviting you to grab a carton."

"You didn't get any moo goo gai pan."

"That's because I don't like moo goo gai pan. I like to eat the food that I bought, for me, with my own money."

"Could’ve at least picked up some egg rolls."

"Yeah, sorry I didn't think of your needs." Xander carefully opens a soy sauce packet and sprinkles liberally. "But, seeing as how chow mein is not a primary staple of the vampire diet, could you leave me some?"

Spike sets down the carton and stands up, shuffling in his socks to the refrigerator. "Want a beer?"

”The magic, invisible beer I keep in my refrigerator? Sure, I'll take one of those.”

Spike rolls his eyes. "Picked up a few while I was out." He grabs two cans of Boddingtons and turns on his heel. "Hey, get a load of these chocolate orbs."

"Hands off, pal, those are mine. I had to special order them." Xander hurries into the kitchenette, where two foil-wrapped balls are sitting on the counter. He shoves them into a drawer. "And I'm saving them."

"For what?"

"For when I make my quota. I get one every time I dust three vamps. This week I've got two so far. Care to help me out?"

Spike hands him a beer. "You're strange."

"That's really expensive chocolate."


~*~*~*~*~


Xander's sitting cross-legged on the floor, so Spike does too.

"So, wait, you learned to use chopsticks right-handed?"

Spike pops the tab on his beer and waits for the gas to escape. "Yeah. 'S not the only thing I can do right-handed, either." He sips some foam and leers.

Xander stares at him for a moment, and Spike can almost see the neurons firing as his eyes widen. "Okay, and that's what I call an overshare."

Spike laughs and takes a long swig from his can. "Don't be such a prude, Harris."

"I'm not a prude. I just don't want to think about you and your… right hand."

"You are a prude. You're a repressed, square prude. Never get laid if you don't loosen up."

"I'll have you know that I get laid plenty. And I am loose. I'm looser than a… really loose thing."

Spike gives him the eyebrow. "Right, Anya. Good choice there, mate. Brilliant idea, shagging a vengeance demon. That'll end well."

"Ex-vengeance demon. And that's none of your business."

They sit in silence for a minute, Xander stabbing fruitlessly at the chow mein carton, and Spike sipping his beer.

"Looser than a really loose thing, eh?"

Xander shrugs and brings a precariously balanced lump of noodles to his lips. Spike watches his mouth. It's not bad. If the kid ever figured out a better use for it than talking, he'd be all right.

The noodles slide off and splat back into the carton and Xander tries again. "So. Are you gonna tell me that you learned to use chopsticks in China?"

"Nah. Been there, though. Picked it up in San Francisco in… 1907. There was this little take-away shop. And Mei Ping." He laughs. "Haven't thought of her in ages. Ran it with her family. She taught me that, and a few things besides how to wield cutlery, as well."

Xander rolls his eyes and chews the massive mouthful of chow mein he's managed to conquer.

Spike leans back against the coffee table and extends one leg toward Xander. He heaves a nostalgic sigh before continuing. "Girl could suck chrome plating off steel. Did stuff to me I didn't know the names of. And this was after Dru and I'd been to India."

Xander gives him a blank stare. "Huh?"

"Git. The Kama Sutra."

Xander's stare gets blanker and his noodles slither off again.

"I'll pick up a copy for you sometime." He gestures with his beer. "Better yet, I'll steal The Watcher's. Be fun to see him looking for it. Bet he'll suspect one of you lot."

"What happened to Mei Ping?" Xander unclutches his take-away box long enough to grab his beer, which foams over when he pops the tab.

Spike stares at his knees. "Dunno. Last I heard, her father'd buggered off back to China 'n sold Mei off to cover his debts."

Along with Xander's shocked, "Oh," he can smell a faint trace of fear. Right. No talking about sexual slavery with the Slayer's boy.

Spike shrugs and sips his beer. "Was probably gonna eat her anyway. Not like her fate was full of puppy dogs and rainbows."

Xander nods and looks down at the chow mein. He stabs at it a few more times, then sets the carton aside. "Well, that was a fascinating trip down memory lane. Or as I like to call it, Spike's Hall of Horrors." He stands and proceeds to shove the empty cartons and unopened packets of soy sauce into the plastic bag they came in.

He studies the happy face printed on its side. "Thanks for the beer."

"Haven't opened your fortune cookie."

Xander takes the proffered item and turns it over in his hand. "I don't like reading them."

"Yeah?"

"Being on the hellmouth kind of takes the fun out of fortune telling, what with the whole prophesies-tending-to-come-true-in-gruesome-and-horrifying-ways thing."

Spike takes it back from him and studies the tiny bit of paper poking out of the curve. "Want me to open it then?"

Xander’s attempting to stuff the remnants of the meal into the overfull trashcan. "Sure. I guess it's not like a bad fortune is gonna have any effect on you, right?"

Spike tilts his head.

"I mean, being undead. It kind of exempts you from worrying about bad luck."

Spike makes a 'could be' face and ponders the cookie some more. With a gentle squeeze, it crumbles in his hand and he pulls out the slip of paper.

"You will own fabulous jewelry." Spike blinks. "Think this one's yours, mate."

Xander comes back over to the couch, wiping his hands on a towel, "Why would you automatically assume that I'm the one who's going to own fabulous jewelry? You're the one who was hell-bent on finding the… what do you call it, Ring of Tomorrow."

"Was called The Gem of Amarra. And I'd hardly call it fabulous. More like something you'd get out of a candy machine."

Xander nods. "Too bad it wasn't like the Green Lantern's ring. Read the other one."

Spike crumbles the other cookie and pulls out the fortune. "The heart sees what the eye cannot."

He looks up at Xander. "Yeah, this one's mine."

"Why is that one yours?" Xander asks indignantly.

"Stands to reason. I'm not about to inherit any jewelry, so that one's yours."

"Because you’re not named in the will?" Xander's crouching down next to him and smirking.

"Never mind. Just trust me."

"Spike, your heart doesn't even beat."

"Yeah, well… look, between the two of us, which one has actually used the word fabulous?"

"Okay, point taken. But," he nods at Spike's hands, "between the two of us, who owns more man jewelry?"

Spike follows Xander's gaze and shifts uncomfortably. "These rings are scary."

"Uh huh." Xander grins.

Spike glowers.

"Sure they are." And now he's laughing. “Whatever you say.”

Spike takes another sip of beer.


~*~*~*~*~


"So…" The kid's flipping the channels faster than he could possibly be taking them in. It’s like he has a tic or something. "Do you do that a lot?"

Spike looks away from the fit-inducing flashing on the screen. "What?"

Xander's thumb slows down but doesn't stop. "Hang out, get to know a human and not kill them? Mei Ping…You weren't going to eat her."

Spike shifts so his back is in the corner where armrest meets cushions. "Did more than hang out." He shrugs. "Sure. I'd get to know the occasional human."

"So, then, you would eat them? You were just playing with your food, like Angelus did?"

Spike snorts and stretches his legs out. "Compare me to him one more time and headache or not, I'll show you the difference."

Xander sets the remote on the arm of the couch and turns to face him. "And that's the way to prove how different you are, threaten violence. Because he never did that."

"Look, he was a psychopath."

"And?" Xander brings his knees up, settling into the couch like this is going to be a long conversation.

Spike sighs. "Mate, you ever seen me torture anyone?"

Xander pulls a face like he's considering. The git. "Let's see…you hit me in the face with a microscope and held me and Willow hostage. Does that count?"

"Yeah, but I didn't torture you, did I?"

"You threatened to cut willow's face!"

"Exactly, I threatened to. I didn't do it. 'Sides, had a perfectly good reason." Spike points a finger at Xander. "That's the difference. Angelus is just mad. And an overbearing prick. Me, I'm doing what comes naturally. Not my fault I'm on top of the food chain."

Xander's nodding and the grin is back. The one the kid probably thinks is sarcastic, when it's really more like clueless. "Oh, I get it. Angelus is a serial killer, but you should get your own National Geographic special?"

Spike blinks. "…Yeah. That's about right."

"Uh huh. So how come you followed him around for, like, a hundred years?"

"A hun- look," he turns around sharply, "just how old do you think I am?"

"I don't know. You're the one who called him Yoda." Xander laughs. "And you call me a geek."

"Look, what I said that day, that was in confidence, yeah? I never would have said any of that if I'd known that you weren't gonna be lunch."

"That's…" Xander shakes his head. "So, are you asking me to keep it quiet?"

"Yeah."

"Like a favor?" The boy shifts, scooting closer on the couch like they're about to share secrets. Bloody hell.

"Yeah." Spike's wary. Xander is far too excited for this to be leading anywhere good.

"Cool. Can do. I'm Xander, man of many mysteries."

Spike cocks a brow. "Right."

"I can be mysterious. There are mysteries." Xander's clueless look fades into something closer to earnest conviction.

"You're what, sixteen? Only thing mysterious to you is girl parts." Spike settles into the couch and folds his arms.

"Nineteen! I'm Nineteen and I'll have you know that I know- stuff." And now he can smell the anger rising off the kid. Nice. On second thought, this might be too easy.

Spike drawls, "And if you told me, then they wouldn't be mysteries anymore, right?"

"Well. Pretty much." Xander leans back, shifting away and looking at the television, which had come to rest on an infomercial for deep fryers.

"Come on. It's only fair."

"As a man of my word, I cannot divulge."

"Xander." Spike can hear the wheedling in his own voice. Great. He'll be down to begging next.

"I'm sorry, Spike, the answer is no." Xander's still engrossed in the deep fryer, but he's looking at Spike out of the corner of his eye. His hand is hovering over the remote like it might run away from him.

Spike makes a 'tsk' sound as he watches an entire turkey disappear into a vat of grease. "Probably don't have anything good anyway. Gonna tell me about the time Red got a 'B' in algebra or maybe 'bout how the Slayer once stole a bottle of shampoo?"

"I've got plenty of good stuff. Especially on those two."

Spike runs his tongue along his teeth and leans into Xander's personal space. "Prove it, then."

"Ha. I'm not going to fall for that." The battle for willpower is lost. Xander clicks the remote and the turkey disappears, replaced by something loud and animated.

Spike sighs. This is getting boring. The kid's probably got nothing, but then, neither does he. In a last ditch effort at entertaining himself, Spike says, "Trade ya."

Xander's lost in the shiny robots or whatever those things are on the telly when he responds, "With what?"

"You wanna know what Mei Ping taught me? Can tell you, when Dru and I hooked up after that, she was one happy girl. Could be helpful with your demon. Even she's not likely to know 'bout this one."

That got his attention. Xander sits up and glares. Spike tries to look innocent.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Hm? Well, girl's been around for how long? Just saying, probably been around the block a few times, is all." And here it comes. Spike settles back and waits.

Xander mutes the television but doesn't turn it off. There's a hint of fear in the air. "We might be able to make a deal. You go first."

Spike grins and decides not to think about quite how far he's sunk, when baiting the Slayer's boy is his chief entertainment for the evening. "You've already got one of mine. 'S your turn now."

Xander shakes his head. "I can't betray confidences."

Spike sighs like he's disappointed. "Well, then I guess you don't want to know about the Double Happiness."

Xander watches a cartoon explosion. He's biting his lip and Spike can see the doubt worming around in his little scooby brain. "Well, purely in the interest of research."

Spike nods like it's a foregone conclusion. "Oh, yeah, research. Don't want to let down your lady."

"Could be a good thing. Like a surprise to spring on Anya." Xander flicks off the telly and shifts so he's facing Spike on the couch.

"Yeah. A surprise." Spike shifts, too, so they're facing each other. All they need now is some nail polish and a pint of Ben and Jerry's and it'll be a regular sleepover. He waves his hand at Xander like he's ready for him to proceed. It's better than rubbing his hands together in glee.

"Alright. Uh… there was this time. Willow and I were… twelve and we got caught reading her dad's porn stash. Willow seemed really into it."

Spike snorts. "That all you got?" He leans back into the pointy arm of the couch and grimaces. "Have to do better than that."

"What? Hey! You can't just… make up new rules like that. Willow was really into the Penthouses. Especially the letters. I mean, like, more into it than I was."

Spike stifles a laugh. He's not sure what's funnier, the lad's genuine affront or his accidental admission. Gotta hand it to him, though, he probably thinks that's a big secret. "Is that so?" He sighs a long-suffering sigh. "Well… alright, fair's fair I suppose."

Xander's sprawled out in the corner of the couch, loose and relaxed. Spike keeps his face neutral as he shifts up and leans over him. "With something as technical as this, though, describing it 's not gonna be enough. It's better if I demonstrate."

Xander's eyes get round, and Spike can smell a strong emotion get stronger as he looms over the kid. It's not fear this time.

"What? Hey! Personal bubble here. Spike, what the hell are you- oh."

"See, it starts out like this."

"Okay, but- really though, I'd be more comfortable if you- ohhhh."

"Better take notes."


~*~*~*~*~


"Okay fangless, get in the chair."

Spike's muzzy as he cracks open one eye. "What?"

"Come on, I gotta go to bed and I can't do that until you're all safe and sound in your special chair." Xander's standing next to him, holding the rope in one hand. "And I can't believe you have a special chair. I'm thinking I might burn it when your little visit is over."

"Can't be serious mate. After all that, you're gonna tie me up again?" He stretches on the couch and he can feel the clammy stickiness in his jeans. Great.

"Serious as a stake through the heart. Get up."

Spike stares at him for a moment, but the kid doesn't move. "Bollocks." He sighs. "Can you at least get me a pair of sweatpants or something? Don't fancy spending all night in ruined jeans."

"Spike, have you ever seen me wear sweatpants? You can have a pair of boxers if you want."

He snorts. "Yeah, that'd be a sight."

"Well, your choices are Tweety Bird, your jeans, or nothing at all. But decide fast, because I'm tired."

"So that's it, eh? Wham, bam, thank you Spike? Woulda thought after what I just-"

"Thanks for the tip, I appreciate it. And I think Anya will, too. But you're not getting out of getting tied up. I'm sorry, but them's the rules." Xander shakes out the rope.

Kid's got gumption, Spike'll give him that. "This the way you treat all your one night stands, then? Not even a kiss at the door?" He shucks off his jeans and climbs into the chair.

Xander's kneeling down next to him, making some kind of Boy Scout knot when he looks up with a grin, "Only the ones who try to play me for information because they can't bite anymore. Good night, Spike."




The End







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