X/S Pre-slash (if you squint and turn your head side-ways)
Set after Buffy's fall from the tower....
“What in bloody hell are we doin’ here?” Spike grumbled. Xander rolled his eyes and huffed.
“We’re letting the girls shop, fangless.” He hefted an over-loaded white-and-pink bag. Spike sneered.
“No, bleach for brains, there is no ‘and’. No extra, no reason, no further purpose to the current hell on earth that is the mall.” Willow tapped Xander’s shoulder. Spike smirked at his wince.
“Wotcha got this time, lovelies?” Spike ignored Xander’s narrowed eyes. He listened intently to Dawn’s fast-paced yammering, though no smile accompanied the subdued recounting of sales and bargain prices. He simply nodded at appropriate moments and watched as she darted back to the witches. He turned to his wall-holding partner.
“Now then, remember this.” Xander frowned in confusion at Spike’s sudden seriousness. “Ain’t no such thing as no reason for a money-toss like this.” He hoisted his three new adornments. “Dru said there was a leaf scent. No idea what she meant, but she always wanted to go after Prague.” Spike rolled his shoulders uneasily.
“Wha?” Xander blinked slowly. “What in the PTB’s unknown names are you talking about?”
“Oh for …” Spike growled lowly. “They’re grievin’, ya moron. Just accept that trowin’ away good dosh washes a chit’s worries out of their brains for a bit, eh?”
“So why were you asking me if you knew why we’re here?” Xander’s elbow inched out, prepared to hit Spike, but he hesitated, eyes darting around at the various bags hanging from them. Spike sighed heavily and rolled his head back.
“I know why the girls are here, git. Why’re we here?” He thrust his arms out, bags jouncing and twisting together. Xander opened his mouth. Paused. Pursed his lips. Glared at the condescending vampire.
“Didn’t want to leave my girls alone, did I?” he shot out, wincing only seconds after Spike did. The blond turned away and slouched further down the wall, the bottom of his duster folding on the floor. Xander wondered if those pale lips were pouting. Ever since Buffy’s death, WonderVamp had been oddly touchy, and Xander was finding it hard not to reach out and apologize. Which was odd enough in itself, wanting to comfort the Big Not-So Bad. Fortunately, he spotted the girls again.
“Do you come bearing more decorations for your ever-faithful servants?” he asked, trying not to throw himself off balance while bowing. Dawn rolled her eyes at his antics, and Willow giggled softly. He was pleased to see Tara’s small, sad smile, though. And he knew that she knew that he knew. His lips moued in brief confusion. Tara’s smile stretched, her hair falling away from her eyes briefly. Looked like some little witch was listening in on his inner-babble. She settled a flat-bottomed paper bag by his feet. As they disappeared again, Xander wondered where they were getting the money. He turned to see the still silent, sulky Spike slowly tumbling his lighter through tense fingers.
“They asked us here, Spike.” The blond paused. “I won’t presume to speak for you,” he talked over the snort, “but I figure we’re here to be their fall-back.” He watched Spike slip the Zippo back into a pocket. Xander didn’t dare move with the mess in his arms. “They’ll get tired, come and collect us, and likely demand that we stay at the house.” He watched his sneaker toe the floor. “If this is washing away the worries, we’ll have to dry out the tears later, yeah?” He looked up to meet darkened blue eyes. They stared at each other for a long moment before Spike nodded.
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