Xander has this thing. It's different than the other habits he has, because those are usually just annoying: the way he always stretches in the morning, knocking Spike in the head; the way he always lets out a long, loud fart like super-sensitive noses just stopped when dating began; the way he scrapes his fork on the plate, or always eats one part of the meal entirely before moving to the next; the way his leg always jiggles the whole couch whenever it's just the two of them together. Those were stupid habits that everyone has, ways of being individual. Ways of being extremely annoying, too, but that's different. Spike has his own habits that drive Xander up a wall, and that's how it should be.
It is a habit, whatever else it is. Or maybe a ritual. Something he does over and over, except it's not a ritual, after all, because there's no specific set time when it happens. Not like when Xander comes home and drops a kiss on Spike's mouth no matter where Spike is (the couch) or what he's doing at the time (waiting, usually). This is something, well, worse because Xander could be in the middle of the bloody mall and he'd do it. And Spike is going to get him to stop -- he is -- because it's unfair. He doesn't like it. Those are reasons enough, aren't they? It's just got to stop.
And it will. As soon as Xander stops doing it this very second. They aren't in a crowded mall, but the crowded club is about the same. Spike has to grip his beer and yes, the back of the booth next to him to stop himself from giving in to weakened knees and a stomach that's clenching and twisting in a way that's almost pleasant. The melting puddle of his heart. . . All because Xander's looking at him. Poncy, right? Utterly stupid. It's just looking.
But Spike still melts into an upright puddle of doe-eyes, because his boyfriend always knows how to say 'I love you' even if the words don't often come. It's in Xander's eyes, that damned tilt of the left corner of his mouth, the angle of his body that's reassuring and wanting at the same time. It's in everything Xander is -- and he gives it to Spike.
Right, fuck this. Who cares if this isn't necessarily a gay-friendly club? Someone's looking to get himself kissed.
Spike's ready to lean in when they're interrupted. It's just a pair of girls, too drunk to notice that the two hot guys in the booth don't have eyes for anyone else but each other. Xander can't help but be polite, and Spike holds in the loud, obnoxious "fuck off" that's hovering behind his teeth. Holds it in because he'd get an entirely different sort of look than the one he craves if he let it out.
Xander does the "where are you from, what do you do?" conversation for a few moments, and Spike grunts noncommittally where appropriate, but everyone else in the world, save these two silly twats, can tell that their hearts aren't in it, because their hearts are in their eyes when they look at each other.
Spike tries to wait. He's had 'politeness' drummed into his head, often by the flat of Xander's hand and not an unhappy situation that is. He'd caught the glare Xander gives him right off, so he grumps and grunts and tries his best to wait -- except the girls aren't going anywhere.
Spike slides into the booth so his knees press against Xander's and he's sitting on cheap, cracked orange vinyl. The girls are still chattering, making little ooing comments that wow, they're so pretty together. Good. Spike pointedly turns his head so he's looking directly at Xander. Yeah, it's mushy. Yeah, he's probably gonna get smacked for this later, if he doesn't pull it off right, and he's going to earn at least two good sniffs from the little harlots across the table.
But Spike's got a secret. He's never told Xander that he can give that look right back. Leaning closer so thighs and shoulders and elbows rub cotton and denim into heat, Spike gives Xander his damned look. And when he sees just the tiniest bit of melting, he pounces.
Mmmm, Xander kisses.
There's an almost infinitesimal bit of resistance, but it's gone in a second, gone with that familiar feeling of sinking into something warm and soft and liquid that comes when they kiss. It happens every single time - they don't have casual kisses; they can't. Neither of them can hide for an instant when they're joined this way. It's the most intimate thing they will ever do.
Xander's hand comes up and cradles the back of Spike's head, and he can't hold back the small groan. This, too, is routine. There's something about that gentle, possessive touch that forces the sound out of him, and he wouldn't fight it if he could.
Spike's hands follow their own routine, sliding up to grip Xander's shoulder, feeling the muscle work as his hand flexes against Spike' head. The other curls around Xander's hip, feeling heat and power and a kind of solidness that says stability.
Spike's moan is immediately answered by Xander's. They don't notice the smoke or the noise or the watching eyes anymore. All they notice is each other and what they have together.
At least until one of the girls says, "Ew!" in a trumpeting pierce and the other starts muttering viciously about all the hot ones being gay.
Spike is moderately chagrined when Xander beats him to the punch, drawing back to snarl "Fuck off, then!" at the watching girls.
The do fuck off, because, really, what else can they do? As Xander leans back in, Spike stops him with a shake of the head.
"Not here, love," he says. "I'll see to you at home, I promise." They breathe together, forehead to forehead, calming themselves.
Spike's startled when a waitress approaches with two beers. She slides them onto the tabletop. "From the gentlemen at the bar," she says, swishing away. They look to the bar and accept a polite nod from two guys who look as if they could be frat brothers. Spike nods back and drinks a sip of his beer.
"I didn't mean to put on a show."
Spike laughs so hard he nearly splutters on his beer. Reaching forward, bottle safely leaking condensation on the table, he pulls Xander in for a beer-and-Xander-flavored kiss, making sure that they do put on a good show. The melting sweetness of Xander's mouth makes him forget about his goals halfway through.
The leers from the two guys at the bar and Xander's dazed expression tell him he succeeded anyway.
"Love, two of us together always put on a show. It's why the girls don't want to come clubbing with us anymore."
"I think Willow likes to watch," Xander says, eyes twinkling. "But, Buffy - not so much."
Spike reaches for his beer and takes a long sip, knowing that Xander is watching the action of his throat as he swallows.
"She likes it more than you think," Spike says, grinning. "She just can't stand the idea of anyone knowing that. For someone who's shagged a couple of demons, she's remarkably prim."
Spike watches as Xander drinks from his own beer, jealous of the rim of glass when he licks it.
"Heh," Xander says. "I knew all that 'ew, gross' stuff was a put-on."
"Could give 'em all a real show, if you want." Spike's half-serious in his request -- if Xander says yes, despite Spike's early comment, nothing's going to stop him from pushing Xander back against the booth and having his way. But he knows Xander isn't going to say yes, and doesn't really want him to, if truth be known.
Spike wants the look again. The one that's hot with possessiveness and the hints of jealousy that Spike craves the way Drusilla used to hunt for four leaf clovers -- rare and green and wondrous.
And, right on cue, there it is. Still takes his breath away - even though he doesn't need it anyway. He never knew Xander had it in him, that streak of selfishness. He'd always played nice, sharing his friends, sharing his skills, giving everything he had. Makes Spike feel... wonder and awe and a deep, wild stab of mineminemine that Xander's made it clear from the start that Spike's the one thing he won't share. Not even a little. Spike loves it.
"Take me home."
Xander hustles him out of the booth without another word. Spike doesn't put on his duster, wanting the feel of restrained heat and hunger through Xander's hand on the small of his back. Courtly and, at first, humiliating to a vampire. At first. Tension hovers around them like a bubble, separating them from the rest of the club.
Not quite enough that Spike could miss the smirks the two frat-looking boys toss them. They're holding hands themselves, now, and for an instant, the taller one gives Spike a look that says yeah, I play those games too.
Spike starts counting when they finally reach the outdoors. They'd walked, but the parking lot is dark and quiet, especially in the back area where they cut through to get back to their place. On 'three' he's whirled around, his back shoved up against a handy minivan.
Xander's face is less than an inch away from Spike's and he can feel hot, damp breath against his lips, smell the beer and the heat and musk that screams Xander to his heightened senses. His boy's a complete hedonist - he'll draw out these moments until it hurts, just to make what comes next all the sweeter.
Spike counts the breaths, knows that somewhere between five and seven Xander will give in and kiss him. Six... seven... oh, someone's feeling especially strong tonight... eight. Xander dips his head, and Spike waits, stomach clenching because he knows what's next. Lips a millimeter apart, and Xander speaks, a quiet whisper, carried on a soft breath.
"I love you."
Habit, ritual, at this point, Spike doesn't care. He's making broken noises with every breath, unable to stand up against what he's wanted. His voice is grating and high: "Xander. . . "
Xander's eyes always flashed with that noise and this time is no different. Their bodies are so close Spike can't tell which skin burns like fire and which soaks it up and craves yet more. All he knows is that it is. And that Xander's kissing him again, taking without guilt or remorse all the things Spike wants to give him.
The kiss is cut short, though, because Xander pulls back. Pulls back to stare into Spike's eyes, and Spike can see it all there - everything - love and want and need and everything.
"Need you to say it," Xander pants. "I'm sorry, baby, so sorry, but I need it. So much." His hand comes up to cup Spike's jaw and it's shaking, hot fingertips tracing a line from ear to chin.
Spike looks into those eyes and swallows hard.
He doesn't know why it's so hard for him to say the words. Express it, yes, in a hundred different ways, a thousand different endearments, and an entire dictionary of touches. Those he can do. But three little words cause him to go knock-kneed with fear he can't name and doesn't want to focus on enough to try.
His head darts forward, drinking courage from parted lips. Both of Xander's hands end up folded in his so their heat doesn't distract him so. "Love you," he whispers. Hates the choked, strained quality to his words. "Always, Xander. I love you."
The tension goes out of Xander, and Spike relaxes, too - relieved that he hasn't failed this test. It kills him that he can hardly bring himself to say the words. He certainly had no trouble saying them over and over to Buffy, way back in the bad old days. But saying them to Xander is different - the feelings are different - so much sharper and deeper and it's terrifying; it puts a fear in him that he can't name.
"Thought you said you were gonna take me home," Spike says after a moment. He's not anxious for them to move though, not since the words are said and Xander seems content to hold him against the side of a minivan, occasionally giving him kisses. Spike loves Xander's kisses. They can be hot and heavy or sweet and surprisingly chaste.
"I did, did I?"
Spike 'stretches' and rubs his body against Xander's in the process. "Not gonna break a promise to me, are you love?"
Xander goes still then, and Spike looks up into his eyes again, seeing the seriousness reflected there.
"Not if I can help it, Spike, ever."
They move together, closing the tiny distance between them, bodies pressed together, eyes squeezed shut, arms clinging and clutching, not another soul in the world save them.
"Let's go home," Spike whispers, lips moving on the skin of Xander's neck.
Xander nods against his temple, and they untangle just enough to walk toward home.