The Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Spoilers: Essentially seasons er... 1 through 3 million. There are points in every season, but nothing particularly detailed.
Summary: It's mostly about kissing, partially about being young, a little bit about love, and maybe a tiny smidgeon of guilt - there's one or two slash moments, and (gasp!) one or two het moments.
Sometimes Xander catches himself replaying kisses in his mind, his first kiss, his first real kiss was anything but tentative and he was so scared but not afraid of missing or of embarrassing himself, but deathly afraid of the golem at the top of the stairs, sending it’s little buggy minions down to kill them. He wasn’t sure how, he hadn’t really thought about it, a bunch of little maggoty worms, how would they do it, crawl inside his mouth and suffocate him, wriggle into his ears and claw his brains out? And hadn’t the women in his life tried the same thing? Cordelia’s mouth had been warm, and not anything like he thought a mouth should be, it wasn’t squishy, or wet, or a little like his own, and he’d expected to taste the gum she’d been chewing and the lipstick she’d just applied, but all he could taste was their spit, and her mouth was just a mouth. He’d kissed her, or she’d kissed him, and neither one of them was really sure how that came about because they were yelling, and then suddenly they weren’t, they were kissing, and suddenly they weren’t, then kissing again.
Xander didn’t know what he was expecting, but that hadn’t really been it, something gentler maybe. Her tongue curling around his, and maybe he would be able to map out her teeth and the roof of her mouth, but that hadn’t happened either. It was official, he had been spending far too much time around girls. Cordelia let him feel her up once, in her daddy’s convertible, she was warm, and soft, and wearing a top that could not have been cotton. His hands didn’t actually know where they were, he just let them move, around the curves of her waist, down to her hips, up around the soft weight of her breasts – he didn’t actually know he was touching them until he’d opened his eyes and looked. He expected it to be different, maybe harder, like Wonder Woman, or his cock when he jerked off, but it was just like the rest of her, with the possible exception of her mouth which was anything but soft as it tore him apart or sucked on his tongue.
Xander didn’t think anyone could really kiss like he wants them to, or maybe it just wasn’t possible then. Sometimes he tried wrapping his tongue around a piece of gum, or probing the interior of his mouth to see what felt good, and what’s strange – but it’s all been done before, he’s had his tongue in his mouth for the last nineteen years after all. It bothers him that Faith never tried to kiss him. It bothers him more that when Faith did kiss him she tried to strangle him too and he was rescued by Angel of all people, but somewhere in the back of his mind it bothers him that she fucked him and didn’t bother with a peck on the cheek. When Faith kissed him, it was just a straight off the starting line tongue-in-mouth sort of thing, she was completely impatient, and about as delicate as a grenade. At least as explosive at any rate. She tasted like cheap motel water, and a little bit like the pizza she always had hanging around in the fridge, but it was probably just what his nose remembered before Angel yanked her off, because she always smelled a bit like pizza, and left claw marks in the back of his neck.
It’s sort of a strange obsession, he realizes this and blames it on spending most of his conscious life with girls. Jesse wasn’t a girl, but then, Xander never really paid attention to Jesse’s tongue, or never asked him what he saw in Cordy, and never really had a discussion that didn’t relate back to boobs (which, coincidentally, was what he saw in Cordy), and back then he hadn’t been kissed yet, and never really thought about it. The first time he kissed Willow it was genuinely an accident. Not one of those ‘fall on her lips’ accidents, but a genuine ‘spatial relations’ accident. They were five, and Xander was leaning over her shoulder, looking at something she was doodling on a piece of scrap paper, invading her personal space, and when she turned around their lips met, dry and scratchy, chapped from the fall breezes.
The second time he kissed Willow was probably a disaster, because sometimes he missed Cordelia’s soft curves and her soft mouth, and kissing Willow wasn’t a whole lot better, except she didn’t have hips yet. Xander liked the curves, flare of hips, narrow waist, soft and heavy breasts that he could cup his palms around, he liked curves, but he liked lines too, smooth flat stomachs, the long line of a thigh, how incredibly long a neck could look when what he knew to be tons of hair was pulled up in a messy swirl. Xander liked the smooth geometry of bodies, Willow was all sharp angles, and reminded him constantly of the time she’d elbowed him in the gut – shortly after their first inadvertent kiss.
They kissed like they were, Willow kisses were soft and tentative, gentle, and sometimes it felt to Xander like the big fuzzy sweaters she liked to wear, comfortable and awkward in the same breath. Cordelia took charge, biting and nipping for a little variety and Xander often felt like he had the fuzzy end of the lollipop – probably Willow’s sweater fuzz, and he didn’t know how he’d lived with himself for so long. Then he’d met Anya, and though he was in the process of teaching her a great deal about humanity, there wasn’t much information in the language of tongues that he could offer. Anya kissed like he imagined a man would kiss, she just latched on and decided what she wanted and how to get it, then went for it – it was mutual masturbatory kissing and that was an image that he hadn’t really needed. Maybe Anya was like him, and she’d never been kissed the way she wanted to be kissed, maybe she was searching for the sorts of kisses that wouldn’t send her mind reeling down the corridors of math homework, and maybe she’d spent hours alone with a piece of bubble gum wondering what someone else’s tongue would feel like against hers. Then, maybe she’d been a vengeance demon for 1,100 years and had forgotten the art of finesse and seduction – Xander suspected the latter.
It could have been, simply, that Anya had drawn up a contract prior to her charming overtures of interlocking body parts that took the romance out of the situation. She had said, quite simply, that once you enter into this contract with me you become tied to me exclusively, you cannot, under any circumstances cheat on me: kiss another woman, date another woman, touch another woman in any regard that is not strictly platonic, nor will you break my heart. I know your track record buster – she had used a Willow word and he knew he was in trouble – and I’ll be watching you. If any of these agreements are broken I will immediately return to my prior employment as a vengeance demon and curse you. He had asked her, in a vague sort of way, if he received mutual exclusivity, and she had responded ‘I would never cheat, but, if for some reason you drive me to seeking what I need elsewhere the contract is broken.’ Instead of having her ‘contract’ brought before a lawyer or any of the denizens of hell that his species actually acknowledged, she brought it before D’Hoffryn, and had it notarized by the lord and master of vengeance demons. She was a true romantic, his Anya, but he was nineteen, and horny, and knew a beautiful woman when he saw one – he signed and she pounced.
There wasn’t actual kissing for months, it was something she had to be eased into as a newly made human, stating once quite profoundly “A working girl never kisses her Johns.” Xander cursed that cliché with every non-magical fiber of his being and laughed until his stomach hurt. He thought he was in trouble, thought he’d found himself a slightly quirkier incarnation of Faith and he was willing to risk the terror of Anya as a vengeance demon to escape, but he hadn’t had to. She’d broken the contract first by doing something petty and mean, grabbing the first reasonably attractive man she could and kissing him at a frat party – Xander retaliated in kind and there had been interference from the demon of the week tempering their judgment so they’d blamed the whole fiasco on that. The next week when they’d resumed their relationship, such as it was, Anya didn’t broach the subject of another contract and there was kissing. A lot of kissing.
What Anya hadn’t realized was that she entered into a contract of a different sort, one with more strings than she could imagine, and Xander signed on for that one even more readily, though by now he was used to the sex. There was emotion involved, love, and loyalty, and guilt all twisted up into being a couple instead of interlocking pieces attached to not-so-interlocking brains, and Xander had only broken that contract once. His most dangerous, secretive, shameful, private, and beautiful kiss.
It had been a shitty night for everybody, in the summer just after the bad Sundance Film Nightmare Festival that was his life, just after the first Slayer had hunted them down and killed them all, and he and Anya were on the outs. Again, always. That was their relationship all over, on, off, on, off, demonic syphilis, off, on, wedding from hell, off, on, and Xander had been sitting squarely in the middle of an ‘off’ phase. Spike too, had apparently been in an off phase, Harmony had kicked him out of her lair and when you get booted by Harmony it’s the all time low. Xander didn’t hesitate to say as much when the vampire showed up on his door at two o’clock one morning, half-starved, half-crying, and completely miserable. He hadn’t been able to scare Willy into free booze, Harmony had kicked him out, and he had nowhere else to go before the sun rose, please oh please could he just stay here for the day. Xander hadn’t liked it, the collective Scoobies had been ignoring Spike for weeks since his utter Spikishness had nearly compromised their friendship, but there was nothing the vampire had done that they hadn’t completely facilitated in one way or another. And really, joining the army wouldn’t have been the worst advice he’d ever taken, if he’d chosen to take it. The worst advice probably had to have been the time Jesse told him to just jump out of the crab-apple tree in his backyard instead of climbing down – the broken wrist had definitely not been worth a month of ‘I told you so’s. So Xander let him in, hadn’t cared what the rest of the scoobies would say in response to his uncharacteristic generosity, and gave Spike the blow-up mattress they kept in the hall closet in case his uncle Rory was in town.
Spike had thanked him, actually said thank you, which was bizarre because Xander was under the impression that he didn’t know the words, and couldn’t speak without using some form of sarcasm. Xander stared at him for a moment while he put the mattress on the electric pump and settled onto his bed, but as Xander was sitting down to more of Larry, Curly, and Moe inadvertently whacking the hell out of one another, Spike spoke again. “Do you have any food?”
“Not the kind you’d be looking for.”
“Please, I’m so hungry I’m prepared to bite a pork chop.” Most of the mockney was gone from the accent, and Xander looked closely – under the denim and the leather and the attitude which seemed to have slipped, Spike was skinny, and malnourished. If he were human they would have filmed a Lifetime special about him and the trauma of battling anorexia. He had been shaking, and there was nothing that Xander hated more than watching strong people shake, Buffy did it when she thought about Angel, or Serious Slaying instead of the pleasantly violent type, or math homework, and Willow shook it nearly all the time until she met Tara – now she shook because Tara was gone, but hadn’t been then. “Do you have a pork chop?”
“Spike, I live off tuna helper, microwaved pizza, and Twinkies. The occasional Cheeto for variety, I wouldn’t exactly say pork chops are in my budget.” He hadn’t exactly been lying, pig’s blood from the butcher wasn’t in his budget, let alone the whole chop, and on the days when he wasn’t kicking himself for having such a shitty job Anya was doing it for him. He’d found a good job a week later, steady employment, enough to live on, but he still didn’t buy pig’s blood.
Xander had the unique experience of watching Spike’s face fall, he’d had a little Steve Irwin like voice rambling inside his head ‘witness now, painintheassus domesticus, more commonly known as the vampire taken out of his natural habit, this is the effect of human interference on painintheassus’ lifestyle – isn’t it horrible?’ Xander sighed, stood up, and got a knife. It was a bread knife, long, serrated, sharp, and like most of the cooking equipment in his basement he didn’t use it often. “What’re you….?”
“If you tell anyone about this, I will stake you, understood?” Xander cut a small gash in the soft underside of his arm, well away from the vein, and offered it to Spike, who looked a little like a kid on Christmas who knew the presents were going to be returned in the morning. A little like Xander on Christmas, actually. But that had never stopped Xander from diving into his presents, and it hadn’t stopped Spike. Xander sat down carefully, bleeding a little more heavily than he’d planned, and Spike didn’t bother to question the gift, just lapped it up, clinical and completely lacking in eroticism, and Xander had never understood why people got off on vampires biting them – Spike’s mouth had been cold, and slick, it was a little bit like having sentient pudding dripped into his cut. He was going to complain, his fingertips were starting to feel icy and his hand was going numb, he really was going to complain, but what came out of his mouth wasn’t at all what he’d intended, “Why didn’t you go to Buffy?” and Spike gave him a look. The one that said ‘you’re an idiot’ and ‘are you kidding?’ in one breath, and Xander knew that he’d have gotten pushed aside or killed for his trouble, and in retrospect that would have been a bad thing indeed.
Spike released his wrist with something like sublime pleasure on his face, and Xander hadn’t known why he’d let him, but was glad he did. For about three seconds before a wave of dizziness hit him like a Mack truck and he slumped forward into Spike.” Thank you” the vampire was murmuring quietly, reverently, sincerely. Or maybe Xander was just hearing sincerity through the vertigo, and he said “Mmm” into Spike’s shoulder, an uncomplicated verse in the tune of ‘you’re welcome’. “Are you okay?”
“Fine…” Xander risked sitting up in spite of the dizziness that was still threatening to swamp him, and he thought it wasn’t much worse than giving blood. He always got nauseous when he did that, but still checked in every fifty-six days to donate. “I didn’t think I’d bleed that much.”
“Anti-coagulant in vampire saliva, pet. Your saliva has enzymes to break down starch, mine has enzymes to keep you bleeding. Technically, if I had the patience, I could drain you through a paper cut.”
“Oh.” Xander said a little dumbly. Spike had been staring at him, gratefully if he had to label, but also a little sadly, desperately, like he’d tasted heaven and had it ripped away again. It was a simile that worked particularly well for the memory, as he came to recognize that look much better in his later life. “Did it help?” he asked softly, and Spike kissed him.
The kiss, the penultimate example in his repertoire of kisses. Rough, and needy, and melting away into perfect pressure, and it didn’t occur to Xander not to kiss back. It was what he’d been searching for, the fingers in his hair holding him there, tongue delicately twisting and moving against his own, lips sucking gently against his own even as bristly hairs from a face that hadn’t been shaved in a century scratched and tangled with his. Perfect even as the kiss softened, gentled, slowed… stopped.
Spike pulled away and there was something there, a fear or a statement on his face, something Xander couldn’t read because he had never been particularly adept in the language of Spike. “I…” he said haltingly.
“Right. Sorry.” Spike moved, shut off the electric pump, sealed off the mattress while he slid onto it, and turned away from him completely. He closed everything off, shut down the passion and the fear and the gratitude that had been on his face and closed his eyes. “I’ll let you sleep then, shall I?”
Xander hadn’t wanted to sleep, couldn’t think past “Kiss” and “Amazing” couldn’t even think as far as “Spike” or “Straight” but he knew with absolute certainty that he didn’t want to sleep. Didn’t want to end that kiss, hadn’t wanted Spike to wander away, and knew with equal conviction that he couldn’t say any of that. Couldn’t express his appreciation, or the longing, or the desire to do it again, couldn’t tell him and never did in all the years that followed, how Spike had inadvertently given him exactly what he’d wanted and taken it away – a sweet sort of revenge, or a gift, or validation of his existence – something like that. Xander caught himself thinking of the women in his life, and how he now knew exactly what they were missing, that sort of tentative brutality that Spike so effortlessly embodied. And he thought about how he was a heterosexual male goddamnit, except he couldn’t bring himself to care, still couldn’t bring himself to care that the best kiss he’d ever had was from a man he hated at the time. All he felt was grateful, sad that it was over, fearful that he would never have it again, desperately wanting more of the piece of heaven that he’d had so very briefly, but grateful. “Thank you.”
And whether Spike heard him, or whether the vampire chose to ignore him Xander never found out, but he was sincere. Spike was gone in the afternoon when Xander came home from work, and it was two weeks later that Dracula decided he’d make a good minion, several months later he’d proposed to Anya and the incident, while never forgotten, was shelved in the back of his mind under “Pretty much irrelevant.”
Xander has never kissed a woman he didn’t know well. Another fact placed carefully on the “Pretty much irrelevant” shelf, and the woman he has kissed, or did know have changed so much in the intervening years as to be unrecognizable. Or dead. Most of them were dead. He doesn’t really blame himself for that, except that he does. Willow’s lesbianism was no more his fault than the destruction of the ozone layer, but he still uses Styrofoam, and she’s the only one of his girls that’s left alive. Anya’s death he accepts as his responsibility, it’s his burden to bear despite what anyone says, councilors, Council Members, or friends, it’s his fault. But by the time Faith was crushed by rubble, three years after the Scooby’s last true apocalypse and the fall of the First Evil, the woman was not the girl she had been, and Xander hadn’t been in contact with her for two years. Cordelia’s demise he laid solely at the feet of her employer, but she too had been changed by the hell mouth, or the Los Angeles equivalent thereof, and though she was a miracle of a woman she wasn’t the girl he’d felt up in her daddy’s convertible, and wasn’t the girl he’d loved. Not his fault, the changes in them, or their deaths, or for that matter their lives, not his fault – but rationality and love were rarely good bedfellows, and he was haunted by their errant offspring: irrational guilt.
Spike, though, no one could accuse him of having anything to do with Spike one way or the other. The vampire had died for Buffy, and for Dawn, had lived for them for years, and lived for them again. Willow called him one morning, long distance telepathy from Rio, and Xander was startled out of his minimal rest at four o’clock Moroccan time to Willow’s frantic babble. It went something along the lines of “Xander! Spike is back! He’s been in LA for two years, Xander! Did you know?” He hadn’t, and hadn’t particularly cared, there was a Slayer in Morocco that had come close to killing him, he was still recovering from the incident, his only eye swollen enough to completely blind him, and he simply didn’t give a damn that Spike was back, and had been for two years according to Willow. He honestly hadn’t cared then, but the seed had been planted in his head, Spike was back, apparently as indestructible as the rest of his family, and Xander realized some three weeks later when he was more-or-less recovered and the broken leg wasn’t really too bad anymore that he missed the vampire dearly. Faith died within six months of that abrupt non-phone call and Xander cried for her from the bottom of a bottle, he had been in Ecuador then, was still in Ecuador.
It was from the bottom of that bottle, still in Ecuador, six hours after Willow’s call, that Xander was thinking. Remembering, reliving, and maybe if he was told when he began the job that the only women he would ever love would be lost or completely changed by the time he was twenty six he may have reconsidered. Women: and Spike, who didn’t change, and was already dead, a man that was unchangeable and unkillable. Xander didn’t understand why Spike kept popping up in his memories, a single kiss in a line of hundreds with people that cared about him, but it did. A single, secret, perfect kiss. He wondered if it could happen again now, six years later, wondered what the vampire was doing, and wondered idly how LA was this time of year.
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