Eat at Joe's
Today's traffic headline is the mess at the corner of Cloverdale and 9th Avenue, where a broken water main has collapsed the street across both lanes. Sorry, folks. If you're trying to get to the west side of our beautiful Sunnydale, you may as well give it up. It's gonna be a long commute.
Xander swore in frustration and turned the radio off with a vicious twist of the knob. He knew all about the water main break at the corner of 9th and Cloverdale, thank you; he was stuck at the corner of 17th and Cloverdale, and traffic was backed up for blocks behind him.
He looked at his watch and swore again; already past six, and he was supposed to have been home by now. It was Friday; their night at the Texas Lunch. He and Spike had been going every Friday since they had first gotten together.
The Texas had been Xander and Jesse's refuge from the world, back in the day. Mac, the guy of unknown age who ran the grill and maybe owned it altogether, was almost more of a fixture in Xander's life than his own folks were. He'd brought his cleaver to graduation, and kept a sawed-off shotgun under the register, beside a squirt gun loaded with holy water. He made the best burgers and fries in three counties, refused to carry anything but American beer and had hated Anya on sight. He'd given Spike a thorough looking-over the first time Xander had taken him there, but dinner had been on the house that night. Xander figured that meant he liked Spike.
Xander eased the car up a few feet, then looked at the street sign. Mandolin Lane. Wait-hadn't this been 16th, and when the new subdivision went in, they lengthened it and renamed it? He decided to take a chance, and turned. Yes! Mandolin Lane narrowed into an alley, but came out several blocks away from the worst part of the snarl. Quickly he cut through Rest Lawn Cemetery, then cut through the new section of Garden View Cemetery-who knew that his extra-curricular activities would pay off in rush-hour traffic avoidance?
Spike slowly worked his way through all the channels. News, news, Jerry Springer, Oprah, news, news, sitcom, sitcom. What was the point of having 200 channels if there was never anything on?
Tossing the remote on the coffee table, he looked at the clock again. Xander was fifteen minutes late. Not late enough to be 'he's been attacked by something from the Hellmouth' late, but enough to be annoyingly late.
Pacing around the room, Spike went over his pre-date checklist. Hair-perfect. Jeans-black and skin tight. T-shirt-also black and skin tight. Boots... "Where the hell did the boots go?" Spike muttered looking under the coffee table, the kitchen table and the sofa. Wandering into the bedroom he checked under the bed, the closet and then went into the bathroom. Still no boots.
Spike put the lid down on the toilet and sat down. When had he last seen his boots? He'd come home in the wee hours this morning, having cheated Clem and his friends out of many a kitten... Spike grinned. Right. Xander'd been up early to welcome him home.
He got up and headed to the front door. Sure enough, there they were, off to the side, where he'd kicked them.
Grabbing them he went back to the sofa. He looked at the clock again. Only three minutes had passed since the last time he'd checked.
At the sound of Xander's key in the lock, Spike leapt off the sofa, and tripped over his boots, but righted himself before the door opened.
Only twenty minutes late after all, Xander pulled into his parking space, locked up, and ran for the elevator.
"You're late," Spike greeted him when he got the front door open. He waited until Xander shucked out of his top shirt and kicked his boots toward the closet, then pulled him in for a kiss. "Almost went without you, but Mac woulda had something to say."
"I know. Traffic was a bitch, broken water main, giant hole in the street, shortcut through a couple cemeteries, here now, going to shower." Xander left a trail of clothes from the bedroom to the bathroom, his voice muffled briefly as his shirt came off.
As Xander waited for the water to warm, he caught sight of the package of razors he'd left on the counter in the morning. He swapped out his old razor for a new one, then stepped into the hot water and let it beat some of the knots of frustration out of his shoulders. He soaped up quickly but thoroughly and rinsed off, then lathered up and shaved, taking care not to nick himself. Not like Spike wouldn't lick it all better if he did, but then they'd be really late.
Drumming his fingers against the counter top in the kitchen, Spike kept himself from pacing by dint of will. How bloody long did it take to shower and shave? He listened; the shower was still running.
Sniffing, Spike smelled the familiar scents of Xander's shower. Shampoo, soap and shaving cream. He grinned; a freshly showered and shaved Xander was a happy Xander. And happy Xander meant play time with Spike. Which made Spike a happy Spike.
He looked at the clock. Xander had been in the shower now for ten minutes. Spike scowled at the clock. It didn't move any faster than it already was.
Spike sighed and headed for the sofa. Perhaps now there was something on the telly that would be worth watching.
News, videos... nope, seen that one too many times. Gardening, financial news... Spike stopped. His favorite secret vice was on. Listening again, the shower was still going; he stayed on his chosen channel. Perhaps this would make the waiting easier.
Two minutes later, he knew he had to change the channel. The stress of waiting for Xander to hurry up and finish, coupled with the worry that he would finish and catch Spike watching this show was more than he could take.
Changing the channel from Fashion Emergency, Spike surfed until he found a re-run of the Young Ones. He'd seen it a dozen times or so, but it would help kill the time. And there wouldn't be any explaining to do when Xander emerged from the bathroom. Sides, if Xander knew, he'd guess where Spike got some of his snarky comments. Knowing that he'd face his own 'Fashion Emergency' soon enough, Spike turned his attention back to the TV.
He rinsed the last of the lather off, made sure everything was smooth, then stepped out and dried off. Spike joined him in the bedroom as he was buttoning his shirt. He eyed Spike's carefully neutral expression.
"You're not going to wear that... thing, are you?"
"This thing is a shirt, and judging from the fact that I'm currently buttoning it, I'd say that yes, I am going to wear it."
"It's burnt umber, and I'm still wearing it."
"It's also barbeque-sauce colored and I know you remember what happened when I wore a white shirt to dinner."
"Right. 'Nuff said. Ready?"
Mac nodded from the kitchen as they made their way to what had become their table in the back of the diner. Ever since they'd started their 'date night', they'd fallen into the habit of eating at The Texas Lunch. Now they had their own table. Spike grinned. He loved being a known regular. It made life so much easier. The fact that Mac was ok with a nice, (mostly) law-abiding demon certainly helped.
Sitting down in his chair, Spike picked up the menu. It was just for show. He always ordered the same things-buffalo wings and beer. The wings were greasy and spicy; in other words, perfect. The beer, on the other hand, was warm, almost flat Coors. While Spike was fine with drinking a fine British lager that way, American beers had to be cold to be drunk. But he'd put up with a lot for those wings.
He set the menu back down and looked over at Xander. His still-damp hair was curling over his forehead and around his ears. Spike wondered if he was going to grow it out. Grinning, Spike thought of all the things he could do to a long-haired Xander.
"Hey there, sweet thing. How're you?" Their waitress came to the table and Xander stood to kiss her cheek.
Miz Sally was fiftyish, Xander guessed, and as much a fixture at the Texas as Mac was. He and Jesse had speculated that they were really married, but no one knew anything about either of them. He had speculated with Spike that she wasn't really human--she didn't seem to have changed any in the years Xander had known her--but Spike insisted she smelled human.
She brought over Xander's Coke and Spike's beer and set them on the table. "What'll it be, boys?"
"The usual for me, thanks," answered Xander.
"Me too, ducks." Spike stood the menu up against the wall behind the salt shaker.
They chitchatted while they waited, and when Miz Sally put their plates on the table in front of them, conversation faded away.
A while later, Xander belched contentedly and leaned back in his chair.
"You boys want anything else?" called Miz Sally from the kitchen.
Xander put on his best puppy dog eyes. "A slice of your wonderful, delicious, heavenly peanut butter pie?"
"Flattery won't get you a bigger piece, you know," laughed Sally.
Spike grinned across the table at Xander. "What? You only ordered one piece of pie? You sick or something?"
"Ha ha, fang-face," Xander said. "For that, you forfeit a buffalo wing." He reached over and snagged the next to last wing from Spike's plate.
"Fine," Spike said, reaching over and tried to grab a handful of Xander's fries. Xander countered with the wing, liberally smearing sauce all over Spike's hand.
"Blech," said Spike, wiping off the sauce with a handful of napkins.
Xander smirked and chewed on the wing.
"Couldn't you have picked less messy way of defending your fries?"
"Nope." Licking his fingers, Xander grinned.
Spike debated telling Xander that there was sauce all over his face. He grinned. Nope. Wasn't going to do it. Let it sit there for a while.
Xander continued telling a story about work while Spike grinned and watched.
"What?" Xander asked.
"What're you grinning about?"
"Uh huh." Xander finally figured out what was Spike was laughing about, and wiped his hands with a napkin, then applied it to his face. The napkin wasn't up to the task and disintegrated in his five o'clock shadow. Xander reached for another one.
Spike stopped grinning. Xander had shaved. Spike had smelled the shaving cream while Xander was in the shower. He never used it unless he shaved. If he hadn't shaved his face... Spike's eyes glazed over. Xander hadn't, had he?
Catching Xander's eye, Spike raised an eyebrow.
"Now what? Did I miss a spot?" Xander asked Spike, batting his eyelashes extravagantly.
"I thought you shaved in the shower?"
Xander just smirked.
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