Follow the Crowd
Xander takes Spike's hand, and Spike is kind of...stunned. Xander's not usually one for public displays of affection. Now, Spike? Exact opposite. He'd happily shag in the center of the town square; statue, fountain and all. During the city Christmas parade. Xander usually keeps his hands to himself when they're out. The most Spike can hope for is one large, warm palm resting against the small of his back occasionally. It's an oddly courtly gesture, and it makes Spike feel protected and angry by turns; angry because he doesn't need protecting. Still feels good, though.
But, tonight, they're downtown, just walking. They're discussing the relative merits of coffee versus a late movie versus a quick patrol through Restfield when Xander's hand closes over Spike's and intertwines their fingers. Xander's hands are callused, the skin rough - working man's hands; the hands of a man who makes things, builds things, crafts things. They're large, warm, strong. Spike has seen those same hands rip the head off of a demon and wipe tears from Dawn's cheeks. He's watched them carve a perfect stake or build a picture frame out of a couple of hunks of wood and a handful of nails. He's felt those hands on his body - comforting him after nightmares or teasing him into insensibility. He loves Xander's hands.
"What's up, love?" Spike asks, swinging their linked hands for emphasis.
Xander's fingers tighten on his for a moment, and he turns to give Spike that shy little smile-and-ducked-head gesture. The gesture that makes Spike really hot, and Xander knows it. "Got jealous," Xander says.
Spike pulls them out of the meandering line of foot traffic, finding a spot where they can lean on the wall and talk face-to-face. "Jealous? Of whom?"
"Sexy when you're smart," Xander murmurs.
"Then I'm sexy all the time."
"Not arguing with that," Xander says. He sighs, then, squeezing Spike's fingers tighter. "Look around." He gestures with their linked hands. "It's a nice night, and everybody else was doing it, so I got...jealous."
Spike looks around, and sees that Xander's telling the truth. It's a warm summer evening, and the street seems to be filled with couples holding hands and walking arm in arm and leaning close to whisper and grin and bump hips or shoulders the way that couples do.
"You can hold my hand anytime you want," Spike says. "I like your hands on me any way I can get 'em."
Xander smiles and pushes them back from the wall, steering Spike back into the flow of traffic, pointing them toward the Espresso Pump. As they reach the corner, he takes a quick breath and leans down to brush his lips across Spike's temple.
Spike figures they might just make the fountain by Christmas.
"He's...we're...It's complicated." Xander's hands twist in his lap, and he can't manage to look up from them. This was so not the way he wanted to tell Willow about his...thing with Spike. So not. He was thinking, maybe on the phone. From some distant, location. With some sort of shield that keeps you from being incinerated by your uber-magic best friend's fiery wrath at not telling her you were...having...things...with a guy. A vampire guy. A vampire guy who used to stalk your other friend. And who tried to kill you. A lot. Yeah, phone.
Not this. Not sitting at the Espresso Pump, where he's been dragged, almost. After a quick stop for shoes. And pants. And it's daytime, and Spike is stuck in his apartment, and it's not like that blowjob is gonna finish itself, right? And Spike's probably pissed. Or worried. Or pissed and worried, like Gandalf, when he bitched out Pippin for messing with that glowy ball thingie and annoying Sauron, but when he did it you could still tell that he loved Pippin, because of the way he looked at him during the pissed part. Spike might be like that. With the pissed, yet affectionate, worried, concern...thing.
Would Spike have the affectionate part? Along with the pissed part, 'cause that's a given. He...does things. Things that aren't evil. He says things that aren't...well, OK, they're evil, but in a good way. The good way that makes Xander all shivery, the way that makes Xander do stuff he'd never do with anyone else. Like trust. And admit that sometimes he's afraid, and that sometimes he's really sorry for things he's done in the past, and sometimes... not. And Spike gets it. He gets Xander.
Who looks up and meets Willow's worried eyes, smiling. "I'm in love with him."
"What the hell does 'snarky' mean, anyway?" Spike propped his feet on the sofa, looking at Xander upside down from his reclining position on the floor.
"Sarcastic and funny and kinda snotty all rolled up together. In short: you." Xander didn't look up from the computer monitor.
"I don't think that it's a real word. You on eBay again?"
"Is, too. And yeah, a little." Xander minimized the window and opened a new one.
"No more collector's plates," Spike admonished.
"Here we go," Xander said. "' Snarky: irritable or short-tempered; irascible.' That's from dictionary.com."
"Is it in the OED?" Spike asked, rolling his head against the floor and pointedly ignoring the massive dust bunnies under the couch.
"Hang on," Xander said, searching. "Dunno - oed.com requires a subscription, and there's no way in hell I'm subscribing to a dictionary."
"I still don't think it's a real word."
"You're a snob, Spike. You know, 'one who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect.'"
They got an entry for 'pillock' in there?" Spike asked, quietly scooting across the floor.
"Hang on," Xander said, typing. "Hey!" he exclaimed, when the word flashed on the screen. "That's not very nice." He typed in another word. "Here we go - 'evil: morally bad or wrong; wicked; causing ruin, injury, or pain; harmful; bad or blameworthy by report; infamous.'"
A hand snaked up the leg of his jeans, stroking the back of his knee. He looked down to see a happy smile.
"Sweet talker," Spike said.
"God, Xander, what is it? You look like somebody just cancelled Farscape."
"They did cancel Farscape. Last year. This is worse." Xander flopped down onto the couch, heedless of his toolbelt and filthy jeans.
Spike perched on the arm of the sofa and reached out to brush the hair away from Xander's clammy, pale forehead. "What is it, pet?"
"You're going to kill me," Xander said, looking up.
"What for this time?" Spike replied, grinning.
Xander looked down at his hands, twisting them in his lap. He sighed. He fiddled with his hammer. He looked at his muddy boots. He stalled.
"Quit stalling," Spike said, tugging on a lock of hair.
Xander sighed again and let his shoulders slump. "You know that note you left in my lunch box?" he began.
Spike sucked in his cheeks and grinned at the same time - no mean feat. "You mean the one about how I wanted to bend you over the back of the couch and lick your..."
"No," Xander interrupted. "The one about how I should remember to pick up cigarettes and Weetabix on the way home."
"Yeah, so? What about it? You did remember, didn't you?"
Xander nodded and looked back down at his hands. "My boss' wife was on the site today, and she saw the note."
"I repeat, so? Your boss knows you're bent, and smoking's still legal in some parts of this Nazi state."
"She wants you to doherdaughter'swdinginvitshmumble."
Spike paused to translate. "She what?" He leaped off of the arm of the couch and stood in front of Xander, arms crossed, toe tapping, face very, very stormy.
"She saw your handwriting, and she wants you to address her daughter's wedding invitations. She was really...insistent." Xander peeked up at Spike through his lashes, hoping to diffuse the situation. "You do have really pretty handwriting."
Spike smothered a smile and kept on glaring. "Did you tell her I'd do it?"
"I told her I'd ask."
"And if I did this, it would be good for your job, yeah? Win you some points with the boss?"
"And you'd be really, really appreciative, right?" Spike didn't smother this smile quite as quickly.
Xander nodded, keeping his own face solemn.
"OK, I'll do it, but I'm not bending you over the couch and licking your..."
Into Each Life
Xander loves rainy days. Being from California, it would follow that rain would be a hated oddity, a break in the blue-skied beauty of his home state. Not so much. Part of the reason they'd left Sunnydale was to get away from the sun. Also a very angry Slayer who couldn't understand the complicated relationship between her loyal sidekick and her sworn enemy - that just made the move happen...faster.
Minneapolis has sunshine - plenty of it - enough to keep Xander tanned for at least part of the year. But it also has gray days, with rain and drizzle and cloud cover thick enough for a vampire to cross a parking lot at three in the afternoon with nary a sizzle. It's a perk.
The parking lot is enormous. Which makes sense, because it's the parking lot for the Mall of America. Spike and Xander both love the mall. It turns them into big kids - a state they're never very far from anyway, really. They find endless amusements inside this Temple of Consumerism, and they've only been thrown out twice for "inappropriate behavior". This year.
They pick a wing and wander, but Xander has a list, one he keeps chanting under his breath. Spike could tell him that he's got a photographic memory, but that would spoil the fun of watching those mobile lips move and that dark brow furrow so adorably. Plus - evil.
They split up in the drug store and find each other again at the register. Xander has one of those new quad-blade razors, and Spike laughs as he rubs a hand over his own jaw, which requires shaving no more than once a week to Xander's once a day - twice if they're going out at night. Xander also has chocolate and the muscle balm he likes to have Spike rub on his aching back after a hard day's work. Spike has a bleach kit and a new black eyeliner. They both have lube - same size (economy), same brand (Slip). They laugh, but buy both tubes.
At Sears, Spike watches Xander study the merits of various socket sets for an hour before buying nothing,
and at Williams-Sonoma, Xander blushes while watching Spike slap hand-carved olive-wood spoons into his
palm before selecting a handful. They both stand rapt at the pet-shop window and watch two puppies
play-fight. They wander again, stopping for pretzels and sodas and to watch little kids toss pennies into the
fountains. It's Sunday, and they've got nowhere to be. Somewhere outside, there's trouble and evil and
friends who really mean well but don't understand, but for Spike and Xander it's just another rainy day, and
they're glad they saved each other for it.