Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is trademark 20th Century Fox. The world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the characters within are derivative of works copyright © 20th Century Fox, 1997-2004. No copyright infringement is intended.
Distribution: The Mystic Muse: http://mysticmuse.net
Nothing Like the Sun: S/X – http://www.nothinglikethesun.com/SX/
Feedback: Yes, please.
Spoilers: After season 5. AU after that. No Buffy.
Author's Notes: The sequel to "It's Just A Jump To The Left."
Pairing: Xander/Spike
Summary: Xander faces the consequences of the time loop and realizes that making changes in his relationship with Spike isn't quite as easy as he'd like

Late Night Double Feature

Kimberly A

1 The One Nobody Wanted

Spike was kissing him. They were on Xander's bed and Spike was on top of him, face-to-face, Xander's legs spread high and wide, calves resting on Spike's shoulders as he fucked him, slow and hard, kissing him all the while with that rough, insistent hunger, their tongues sliding against each other just as Spike's cock slid inside of him.

"Oh god, yeah," Xander moaned against Spike's mouth, panting. "Like that. Right there. Oh god."

He was getting close, and Spike seemed to know, seemed to just know what he wanted without him having to say anything. Xander's cock was throbbing between them, rubbing against Spike's stomach with every slowly speeding thrust as Spike began to change his pace, making Xander writhe in desperation.

"Oh god," he groaned. "Oh god, yeah, faster, oh god, oh god, yeah…" Xander's head pressed back into the bed, his back arching, he was so close…so close…

Spike began pounding into him, kissing him just as hard, kissing him and fucking him as if he couldn't get enough, as if Xander was his whole world and he wanted to climb inside and never come out. Then Xander felt Spike's body stiffen against him and he knew Spike was coming inside him, and he heard himself cry out, "Yes!" as he came so hard that a few drops hit his chin.

He lay on the bed panting, his heart still racing.

When he'd recovered, Xander rolled over and sat on the edge of the bed, pulling the condom off of the dildo and tossing it into the trash can by the bed, where it joined many of its brethren. He put the dildo and the lube into the bedside table and closed the drawer. He wiped himself off with a paper towel from the roll on the floor.

He sat there for a while, not really thinking about anything, just feeling vaguely depressed.

After a while, he stood up and went into the bathroom to wash up, avoiding his own gaze in the mirror. He didn't want to look at that guy, that sad guy who spent pretty much every night fucking himself with a piece of plastic and imagining it was his best friend's cock.

Sometimes he felt like a liar, not telling Spike about everything that happened in the time loops. Sort of like he'd molested Spike in his sleep or something. But how was he supposed to tell him now, months later? Remember all those time loops I told you about a while ago? Well, I left out this one tiny detail where you kind of fucked me in the ass repeatedly and I liked it and would like to have it happen again, now, for real. So how 'bout it? And, anyway, they really were friends now, and Xander didn't want to fuck that up. Literally. Or metaphorically. Or whatever.

He dried his hands and walked naked to the kitchen, where he opened the refrigerator door and took out a carton of orange juice. He sat down at the kitchen table and tilted his head back, drinking straight out of the carton, and then looked down at the postcard sitting on the table. He'd left the refrigerator door open, and it lit the room in a strange, elongated rectangle. Xander took another drink of juice and looked again at the postcard.

Well, it wasn't really a postcard, not exactly. The front showed a black-and-white photograph of a man wearing only a leather collar, kneeling at the feet of another man who was shown only from the very muscular – and very naked – thigh down. On the other side was printed info about a party at a club. A sort of sex club type place. From what Xander gathered from the blurb, the place seemed to specialize in domination games.

Okay, so, yeah, he'd had a few – okay, a lot – of those kinds of fantasies about Spike since the whole time loop thing. Sometimes he imagined them being romantic…and sometimes he imagined them being just really raunchy and intense…and sometimes he imagined Spike telling him what to do, sort of like in the time loop, all commanding and…well…dominant.

He wasn't actually planning to go to the club. Because what if somebody recognized him? And, anyway, he wasn't interested in that sort of stuff – or any kind of stuff – with anybody except Spike.

But he was awfully curious. He wished he could go and just watch, just see what other people did. Then he could imagine what it would be like if Spike…

Xander swiped his hand across the table and sent the postcard flying. It fluttered crazily, reflecting the light from the refrigerator in a strange mini-strobe effect, before landing somewhere in the shadows on the linoleum. Xander shoved the juice carton away, too, and let his head fall into his hands.

He suddenly felt a little guilty for all those years with Willow, back when they were in school. 'Cause this "pining for your best friend" thing sucked, big time.

"Think the girls'd toss me out if I threw this bottle at the screen?"

"Spike, I'd toss you out. You dare not diss the classics!"


"Yeah, 'diss'."

"What're you, now? Scoobies in the 'Hood?"

"Shut up, Spike."

In the flickering shadows of the living room, Willow and Dawn turned around simultaneously and shushed them. Tara just continued placidly watching the screen.

Spike was only quiet for a few seconds before he was griping again. "And, anyway, this is not a classic. The Iliad is a classic. Anarchy in the U.K. is a classic. This? This is rubbish."

"This is a very moving parable: the tree nobody wanted, finally finding a loving home. It's touching."

"It's tripe. Stupid tree can't even hold up one bloody ornament."

"Hey! Don't be all prejudiced based on ornament supportage! It's a good tree! I've always identified with that tree!"

"Yeah, well, you would, Harris. This shite is written for every pathetic tosser who ever wished somebody would finally see their 'inner beauty' and suddenly want 'em around. World doesn't work like that, whelp. Nobody loves a loser. Not even another loser."


Xander crossed his arms and didn't reply, determinedly watching his beloved cartoon, the rare happy piece of his childhood, the best thing about Christmas…which Spike had just pissed all over.

The show was almost finished when Spike leaned over and whispered in Xander's ear in a vaguely apologetic tone, "Just can't stand this maudlin holiday shite. Makes me want to stake myself."

Xander didn't turn his head, but whispered, "Well, you don't have to ruin it for everybody else."

Spike didn't apologize, but he did slump in a sort of defeated way that Xander knew meant he'd won the argument. So he nudged Spike and smirked at him in the flickering light. Spike elbowed him in return, and suddenly everything was okay again.

When the show was over and the lights were on, Willow said with a mischievous grin, "Now Xander's supposed to do the Snoopy Dance."

Xander gaped in horror and looked around at all the expectant faces now staring at him. Spike and Dawn looked particularly excited at this opportunity for mockery. Xander glared at Willow, who merely shrugged impishly and said, "It's tradition!"


"Oh, pleeeeeeeease, Xander?" Dawn had that whining thing down pat, yessirreebob.


"Oh, pleeeeeeeease, Xander?" Spike mimicked, smirking.


"Okay," Willow interrupted, now looking a bit apologetic at having put Xander on the spot. "That was kind of mean and I'm sorry, and anyway it's really late. Sleepy time."

Dawn groaned and began to complain, but Spike said firmly, "Bed. Or no presents," which had her leaping to her feet and bidding everyone a hasty goodnight before racing up the stairs.

Willow looked at Xander and Spike, still sprawled on the couch. "You guys are both staying tonight, right? Presents in the morning?"

Spike sighed heavily and hefted himself off the couch. "I'll do all this Christmas tripe for the Bit, but I don't want to hear any complaints about running patrols tomorrow. Those Bregni demons are still out there and they won't be stopping for eggnog and carolling."

Willow and Tara both nodded, and Willow said, "Got it. Presents in the morning, demons in the evening. It's a wonderful Scooby Christmas."

Xander got to his feet shrugging, "You don't celebrate Christmas anyway. Jewish, remember? Not everyone worships Santa? I seem to remember a certain young lady saying these things pretty much every year?"

Willow smiled slightly, and she and Tara held hands. "It's for Dawn," Tara said gently. "It's her first Christmas without Buffy. We want her to be happy." Yeah, they were saying her name now without wincing, though it still wasn't very often. Sometimes they even talked about the good times, remembering the Buffster for more than just a leap off a tower and an unexpected goodbye.

Xander felt a bit embarrassed and chastened at the reminder, but he nodded understandingly. "Right. Duh."

Both girls just smiled at him, then said goodnight and went upstairs.

Xander turned around to see Spike grinning evilly. "Just us blokes now, Harris. Let's see that Snoopy Dance."

"Shut up, Spike."

The next day was the usual Christmas morning scene. Torn wrapping paper all over the floor. Sleepy vampire on the couch. Lesbian witches rubbing noses and kissing. A blob of mystical energy in the shape of a girl squealing over every new present. And Xander Harris: Construction Worker to the Hellmouth. Yep. Just your average Christmas in Sunnydale.

Everyone got great presents, of course. They'd all been spending so much time together that they couldn't help but know what to get each other. Well, Xander was a bit shopping-impaired, but Dawn had helped him out some and he'd sort of blundered through the rest as best he could.

When Spike started opening up his gift, he first commented that the package looked as if it had been wrapped by chaos demons. Xander rolled his eyes and tried not to squirm on the couch. He was actually a little – okay, a lot – nervous about this one. Spike tore off the paper and tossed it aside, then just stopped and stared at the object in his hands as if he'd never seen one before.

After enough time had passed to make him worried, Xander explained hesitantly, "It's a journal. See? Black leather cover. Unlined pages." He watched Spike's face, which looked confused and maybe even a little affronted.

"And what do I want with a journal?" Spike asked tersely.

Xander flinched, just a little. He couldn't help it. He'd thought for so long about what to get Spike, and he'd thought he'd finally come up with something he'd like but that was more personal than weapons or something like that. "Sorry. I thought…you just…you tell good stories, you know? And I thought you might want to write them down. Like, write your memoirs" – or poetry – "or whatever."

Spike flipped through the pages and grunted noncommittally.

What an idiot, buying him a journal, just because he was a poet when he was human. It's not like he wants other people to know about all that. He sure didn't seem proud of it. So why would he want a journal? Why would he want to write anything now? God, I'm such an idiot. He probably thinks I'm making fun of him, getting in some little jab about the secret he told me. Oh god, of course that's what he thinks. I'm such an idiot!

Spike put the journal aside and returned to admiring the engraved dagger Dawn had given him. Xander's stomach tightened into a miserable little knot and he decided that was a good time to wander away in search of some eggnog and a cookie. Because right now, I need a cookie.

Xander wasn't feeling very chipper as they gathered for the Christmas Night patrol. Spike was right: there were Bregni demons out there causing trouble and they needed to find them. But Xander just wanted to go home and have a nice long sulk where nobody could see him. Spike hadn't liked his gift…Spike had given him a set of knives (nothing says "impersonal" like a gift of weaponry)…and Spike was (as always) utterly oblivious to Xander's attempts at subtle flirtation.

Yeah. In the time loop it must have just been some macho challenge thing, just trying to prove something. Not like he would ever want to have sex with me normally. Obviously.

Sometimes too much time around Spike, doing the buddy thing, just got to him. Because he didn't want to be Spike's buddy. He wanted to make Spike's eyes do that glazed, hot, needy thing they'd done during the time loop. He wanted Spike to look at him like that. And a whole Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of Spike buddy time was a little hard to take. Xander felt like his Goofy Xander Friend Guy act was wearing pretty thin.

"If we run into the Bregni, you girls find a place to hide. Make with the mojo from a nice safe spot out of the fighting range. Xander and I'll take 'em on closer up."

Xander thought sullenly, Who died and made you boss? and then winced. Right. Somebody did. He watched Spike pace around the kitchen barking orders, looking so much like the old Spike, all full of arrogant swagger, no trace of that invisible thing he used to do. Xander wondered if this was how Spike used to treat his minions, back when he had them. Anyway, his little voyage into megalomania is my fault. I'm the one who kept insisting on pulling him into the gang. And he does have the most knowledge and experience.

"Can I come?" Dawn was all wide eyes and hopeful grin, bouncing a bit on the balls of her feet.

"No." Spike's voice was firm.

"But I've been learning how to fight."

"And you'll keep learning. Don't want you getting hurt, so you're staying home this time."

Dawn made whiny complaining noises, but Spike wasn't impressed. "At least you don't make me have a babysitter," she groused.

Spike raised an eyebrow. "Keep it up and I will."

Dawn stormed off in a huff, leaving the rest of them to roll their eyes and gather their patrol gear.

The patrol itself was pretty uneventful. The five of them just meandered through one cemetery after another, looking for signs of the Bregni demon gang. Spike had decided to bring the Bot for extra muscle, as he did sometimes now, but he mostly kept her at a distance, telling her to walk with Willow and Tara.

"You bring those new knives with you?" Spike asked him as they walked.

Xander shrugged. Stupid knives. What did I expect? Flowers? Jewelry? Poems? Lingerie? Stupid knives. Stupid Spike. Stupid Xander.

"Special throwing knives," Spike continued. "Specifically weighted and balanced for throwing."

Xander nodded. "Neat." He knew he could sound more pouty if he tried. Maybe he could get some lessons from Dawn.

"Figured it was time you had something better than those old things of mine."

Xander nodded again, looking anywhere but at Spike. "Yeah. I'm sure they'll be real useful. Thanks." Next year, could you get me a vacuum cleaner? Mine's getting kind of old. Or maybe a washing machine. Because that would be almost as romantic, but not quite.

Spike stopped walking, making Xander stop and turn to look at him questioningly.

"What's your fucking problem, Harris?"

Oooh. Back to the last name. Somebody's getting a bit testy. Xander sighed. "I don't have a problem, Spike. What's your problem?"

"You." Spike was scowling. "You've been a pain in the ass all day."

Xander clenched his teeth. Great. A fight. That would be just the best way to end a stellar Christmas. "So sorry I haven't been behaving according to your specifications."

Spike growled, "I'm just getting tired of dealing with your moody shit."


"Fine," Xander spat. "I'll just go home." And he stormed off, striding through the cemetery as fast as he could walk. He knew he was being childish, but he just couldn't deal anymore. He knew Spike wouldn't leave the girls unprotected – not now that he seemed to think they were all his little family to protect – so Xander didn't have to worry about being followed. He could just go home and have a beer and watch some TV and do something that didn't involve Spike. Because he just couldn't do this anymore right now. He couldn't pretend everything was okay. Because it wasn't. Not by a long shot.

Xander was sitting on his couch in the dark, watching a Stargate: SG-1 re-run, when he heard a knock at the door. He wasn't expecting anybody, so he just pretended not to hear.

Knock knock knock knock.

Xander hunkered down on the couch. Go away.

Knock knock knock knock.

Xander was tempted to turn the television up, but he figured that would only make it more obvious that someone was home, and might make the person outside more persistent. So he just kept his eyes on the TV, the remote cradled comfortingly in his hand.

Knock knock knock knock. "Harris, I know you're in there. Open the fucking door."

Just what I need. "Go away, Spike."

"No." Spike sounded pissed at him. Even better. "Open the fucking door or I will break your lock."

Spike would do it, too, just to be annoying. Just to prove he could. Just to win a stupid argument.

Xander hauled himself off the couch and opened the front door a crack. "What do you want?" he asked, and he knew he sounded tired, drained, but he just didn't have the strength to pretend right now. He just wanted to be left alone.

Spike pushed the door open and stepped around Xander to come inside, glancing around at the lack of lights. "Sittin' in the dark?"

Xander rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. "Why is it any of your business, Spike?"

"Anything you lot do is my business."

Xander sighed again. "And why's that, Spike? Why do you even care?"

Spike frowned at him and walked over to the kitchen, opening up the fridge and taking out a beer. He took off the cap and drank a swig, leaning back against the counter, watching Xander in the dark. "You've been acting off," he said bluntly. "Pissy like. What's your problem?"

Xander sort of lied, "I don't have a problem, Spike. Except a vampire barging into my house, stealing my beer, and interrupting my television-watching."

Spike narrowed his eyes suspiciously and took another drink of his beer. He set the bottle down on the counter and moved as if he were going to walk toward Xander, except something distracted him. He tilted his head down, looking at the floor, and murmured, "What's this now?" and then bent to pick something up.

Oh fuck! Is that what I think it is? Please tell me Spike did not find what I think he found. Because I have done nothing to deserve this and this day has sucked enough already and I don't know what I'll do if he found what I think he found.

But Spike was holding up a postcard. Xander couldn't see it very well in the dark, but he knew one side of it was a photo of a man kneeling, wearing nothing but a leather collar.

Spike's voice seemed suddenly very loud in the dark apartment when he said slowly, "Where'd you find this?"

Xander blushed and didn't reply. Why couldn't Spike have just left when he didn't answer the door? Why did Spike have to barge in and make this night suck even worse?

Spike turned the card over to read the back, then raised an eyebrow. "A free pass. Somebody gave this to you. Didn't just find it on the street."

Xander crossed his arms and bit his lip, knowing that his blush was only getting worse. What was he supposed to say? Oh, well, you see, the cashier put that in the bag when I bought my new butt plug, which I like to use while I fantasize about you fucking me. "Spike, I'm tired. Can we please not talk about this?" he asked in what he hoped was not a pathetic voice.

Spike shook his head, frowning. "I don't think so. Do you even know what this place is? Way out of your depth, Harris."

That sent Xander's eyes up from where they'd been staring at his feet. Now he glared at Spike defensively. "Oh, I'm just some dumb kid?"

Spike cocked his head to the side. "Not a kid, no." And then Spike held up the card with the naked-guys photo facing Xander. He could barely see it in the light flickering from the TV. It's not porny. All their bits are…hidden. It's like art photography. Spike's voice was a challenge: "But you do realize what sort of club this is?"

Xander squirmed and didn't reply. God. Spike was the last person he wanted to be having this conversation with, making him think of all his fantasies, all the things he remembered from the looping. Hell, it was Spike's fault he was even thinking about any of this stuff! Not that Spike knew anything about that, of course. It was all so complicated and embarrassing and he just wanted to sink into the floor and disappear.

But Spike was talking again, sort of patient and concerned, like he was Xander's dad or something. If Xander's dad had ever been patient and concerned. "This is a domination club, Harris. A predominantly gay one."

Xander's chin went up slightly. Spike's know-it-all parental thing was grating on his nerves. "How do you know so much about it?"

Spike scowled. "Still evil, here. I know the seedy side of this little burg."

"Hey!" Xander frowned, offended, not even thinking before he spoke. "It's not necessarily…Just because it's…that…doesn't mean it's 'seedy'."

Spike's eyebrows went up. "Well, this place is. What…you looking to get offed by some leather queen, get found starkers in some alley with a ball gag in your mouth?"

Xander gritted his teeth. "We're not talking about this anymore."

Spike nodded. "Because you aren't going."

Xander glared at him, frustrated and embarrassed and sort of angry all at the same time. "It's none of your business, Spike. Just drop it."

"Fuck that," Spike spat. "You're not going."

"Spike, what gave you the impression that you have the right to tell me what to do? Because you don't. So get the fuck out of my house."

Spike's chin lifted. "Fine. Then I'm going with you. Make sure you don't do anything stupid."

Xander yelped, "What? No! No way!"

Spike walked toward him, only stopping when he was right in Xander's face. "These kinds of games can be dangerous if you get involved with strangers."

"Oh, what, you offering?" Xander spat bitterly, feeling hurt and resentful and like he might burst into tears and embarrass himself even worse than he already had. Why hadn't he thrown away that stupid postcard?

Spike, you prick, you complete and utter asshole, can't you just leave me alone to nurse my rejection in private? Do you have to come over and rub the whole thing in my face?

Xander said quietly, defeated, "Spike, look, please, just go. I'm really tired. I can't do this right now."

Spike was still standing close to him, close enough that his face was clear in the flickering light. He was watching Xander with a strange expression.

And suddenly Xander was sure he couldn't have heard right, couldn't possibly have heard right, because it sounded remarkably as if Spike had just said, "Yeah, I'm offering."

2 Strip

Xander frowned, confused, because there was no possible way that Spike meant what that had sounded like. "You're 'offering'? Offering what?"

"If you're so curious about this sort of thing, I'll show you a bit. Leastways you know I won't kill you."

Xander stared at Spike in shock, his mouth open but no words coming out. Did Spike just say what I thought he said? Because that doesn't seem remotely possible. Did Spike just…offer to have sex with me? Just to keep me from supposedly getting killed by some random guy at a sex club?

Xander gulped and stammered, "I'm not your pity case, Spike." He can't be saying what I think he is. But what if he is? Does he really want this? Does he want me? Or…even if he doesn't now…maybe he'll start, if we…

Spike smirked at him. "Not pity, brat. Think I won't get anything out of it? Ain't gonna be me on my knees in this picture."

And those words sent such a rush of heat through Xander's body that he thought he might fall down. The image Spike had just put in his head…it was so similar to the time loop…so similar to so many of his fantasies. It all seemed surreal. Spike goes from yelling at him to offering to…offering to…to what, exactly? He still wasn't entirely sure.

Xander hesitated, then ventured, "Um…so…the party is on New Year's Eve."

"You aren't ready for a club."

"What do you mean? I've been to lots of clubs. Well, I mean, I've been to The Bronze, and there was this one time in Oxnard, when I…well, I've been other places, but nothing like…"

Spike interrupted him to say simply, "Take off your clothes."

Xander's jaw dropped. When enough of his brains had crawled their way back into his head and he was able to form words again, he squeaked, "What?"

Spike nodded, looking smug. "Right there. Proof you're not ready."

Xander was frowning now. "What the heck are you talking about?"

Spike walked to the couch and sat down, sprawling comfortably while watching Xander all the while. "I tell you to do something, you do it. No questions. No excuses. No arguments. You do it. You talk when I tell you to talk. You strip when I tell you to strip." Spike settled himself and raised one eyebrow expectantly. "Now, I seem to remember I told you to do something."

Xander hesitated, wanting to ask what exactly was going on, wanting to be sure he wasn't misinterpreting, but Spike had pretty clearly told him not to ask questions, to just do what he was told. This was probably all a dream, anyway, because stuff like this just didn't happen to him, so he might as well go with it.

Keeping his eyes on Spike's, watching for any clue, Xander lowered his hand nervously to the button at his waist. When he unbuttoned the waistband of his jeans, Spike's face seemed to relax slightly, not smiling but looking somehow pleased, though whether he was pleased with himself or with Xander was impossible to tell.

He was just starting to lower his zipper when he realized he was still wearing his shirts. Oh, yeah. That would be sexy. Drop my pants and stand here in my shirt and socks. Xander started unbuttoning his long-sleeved shirt, suddenly becoming self-conscious about the fact that it was red with big green circles on it. It was Christmas, after all. But standing in his living room with Spike watching him take off his clothes, the shirt suddenly seemed ridiculous, like a clown suit without the nose and floppy shoes. He tried to get the gaudy shirt off as quickly as possible, but he'd forgotten to unbutton the cuffs and it got caught on his hands. He struggled briefly and tossed it on the ground, blushing.

"Slow down, yeah?" Spike drawled lazily. "'S not a race. Give me a bit of a show." He smirked and Xander felt a moment of panic that this whole thing was just a complicated Spike joke to make him look stupid. But Spike wasn't usually that cruel anymore. And the smirk seemed more…sexy…than mocking. So Xander gulped and nodded. Slow. Show. He couldn't help finishing off a rhyme: Blah blah blah blah blow. Ack! No, not blow! Or…um…yes, blow? What exactly does Spike have in mind here?

Xander hesitated, shifting from one foot to the other, and then started slowly pulling his t-shirt out of the waist-band of his jeans, still watching Spike's face uncertainly.

"Tease me," Spike said from his sprawl on the couch. "Stroke your stomach. Lift up the shirt a bit, give me a glimpse, let it fall again. Make me want to see more."

Xander gulped and slowly ran his hand over his stomach, over his black t-shirt, but just feeling his muscles calmed him down a bit, made him feel a little more confident. Yeah, he'd been working out since Buffy's death. It passed the time, and it seemed to work off some of the emotions he didn't know how to deal with. Since the time loop, he'd been spending even more time with the weights. Frustration was a strong motivator.

Xander licked his lips and caught his breath when he saw Spike's eyes follow the movement. Maybe this really was his chance to make Spike notice him as something more than a buddy.

Still stroking his stomach lazily, Xander let one hand slide underneath, lifting the shirt slightly as Spike had instructed, giving Spike a glimpse of the smooth skin of his belly. He stroked his fingers slowly across his stomach muscles and kept his eyes on Spike, who was now watching that sliver of revealed skin. Xander let the shirt fall again, hoping he'd done what Spike said, hoping he'd made Spike want more. Please please let him want more.

Xander smoothed both hands up his body to his chest, then plucked at both nipples through the fabric, his eyes fluttering closed for a moment at the sensation. When he opened his eyes, he saw Spike watching him with that hunger in his eyes, that look he'd had during the time loop, and Xander was suddenly hard. All the way hard. Embarrassingly hard. If Spike was just waiting to mock him, he was going to have plenty of ammunition.

Licking his lips again, Xander found himself almost drunk on Spike's intense gaze on his mouth. Come kiss me, he thought. You keep watching my mouth. Come kiss me. I've been thinking about it for months. Every time we're alone, I think about it. Every time you look at me for more than a few seconds, I think about it. So kiss me. Please. I've been wanting you to look at me like this, and now you finally are. Like you think I'm hot. Oh god. I think I'm going to die if you don't kiss me.

He didn't realize how long he'd been standing there, looking from Spike's eyes to Spike's lips and back again, until Spike said, "Not stopping, are you? Thought you wanted this game."

Xander's head jerked in some semblance of a nod. Right. Game. Do what Spike says. It's like Simon Says…only incredibly hot and sort of confusing. Xander began slowly lifting his t-shirt, revealing his stomach and chest inch by inch. Once he got the shirt to his armpits, there just didn't seem to be any sexy way to get the shirt the rest of the way off, so he just whipped it over his head. He had a momentary giddy image of himself swinging the shirt around over his head and then throwing it at Spike, but that was just too cheesy, so he let the shirt fall to the floor instead.

Spike was running his eyes over Xander's bared skin, making Xander's stomach do funny twisty things. Spike was actually looking at him. Not just like a pal. Merry Christmas to me.

Emboldened by Spike's obvious interest, Xander stroked his stomach again, licking his lips, his eyes half-closed as he watched for even the tiniest reactions. Spike shifted slightly, making Xander wonder if he wasn't the only one getting hard. That thought, of course, only made him harder.

He stroked his hands up to his chest and tweaked both nipples again, which made him moan slightly. Touching himself like this, with Spike there, watching and apparently interested, was the closest he'd come to sex in a long time. It made everything more intense.

"Suck your finger," Spike said huskily. "Want to watch you suck it."

Xander shuddered, an image of himself on his knees, sucking Spike's cock, nearly overwhelming him. He put his index finger in his mouth and began sucking, slow, the way Spike had liked. He kept his eyes on Spike, fascinated and amazed at how the other man's eyes had gone dark and hot. He wants me. I think he actually wants me.

"Now use that finger on your nipple," Spike said, watching him closely, leaning slightly forward as if to see better.

Oh yeah. I think we have an answer on whether or not I like this game. Because Spike giving me orders? Definitely twanging my thang.

Xander slid the finger out of his mouth and used it to circle his nipple, teasing himself, and then pinched lightly, sending that tiny shock of pleasure downward again.

"Take off the trousers."

Another moment of panic. How was he supposed to take off his pants without bending over and tripping like a dork? Well, one thing was certain. The socks had to come off first, because there was no way in hell he was going to stand in front of Spike wearing boxers and socks. Any small amount of hotness Spike might see in him would be instantly destroyed.

Oh hell. I'm wearing my Marvin the Martian boxers. Why didn't I wear…uh…okay, I have no boxers appropriate for this situation. Okay, honest? I can't imagine boxers appropriate for this situation. Um…maybe I can go shopping after work tomorrow. Because I don't think Spike'll be turned on by the lipstick-kiss ones, either. Or the happy faces. My underwear is undignified. Why didn't I ever notice this before? Why didn't I realize the hugeness of the problem? Uh…hugeness. Yeah, there's that problem, too. If I take off my pants, Spike'll see that I'm enjoying this more than a little bit. Yes, definitely more than a little. But isn't that the point? Wait. Is that the point? What is the point?

"Trousers," Spike repeated, sounding impatient. Right. He told me to do something. I'm supposed to do it. That's the game.

Xander bent over and pulled off one sock, then switched feet and pulled off the other sock. He stood straight again and looked over at Spike, who was watching him patiently, slouching back on the couch. Xander raised his hands to the front of his jeans and swallowed nervously. Spike just watched him. Xander lowered his zipper very slowly, not because he was trying to tease, but because he was anxious about letting Spike see exactly how much he was enjoying this little game.

"Off," Spike insisted when Xander hesitated. Xander considered whether to pull off the boxers at the same time as the jeans, in order to avoid the Marvin the Martian problem, but Spike seemed to be pretty insistent that Xander follow his instructions, so he didn't want to piss Spike off. That might end the game. And Xander did not want to end the game. No. No ending of the game. Even if it means underweary humiliation.

Xander began pushing the jeans down over his hips, worrying about what he was going to do when he would normally bend down and pull them off with the help of some very un-sexy hopping. He didn't think the hopping would turn Spike on. It seemed somehow unlikely.

So he just kept pushing the jeans down, bending over slightly, still keeping his eyes on Spike, who looked interested. When he got the jeans pushed down far enough past his knees, they crumpled down around his feet and he was able to just step out of them. One of the benefits of baggy jeans, I guess. So why have I been doing the hopping thing all these years? I'm sure Spike doesn't do the hopping thing when he takes off his pants. The image of Spike taking off his pants sent another wave of lust through him. The image of Spike without his pants was even better.

He was standing now, looking at Spike, feeling his face burn with a boner-awareness blush. But Spike didn't look like he was going to make fun of either Xander's boner or Marvin the Martian. If anything, he looked hungry. He had that hot look in his eyes again, that look like he wanted to throw Xander down on the floor and do nasty things to him. Oh yes! Please? Where do I sign up for the nasty things?

Spike jerked his chin toward Xander's boxers and said, "Them too."

Xander nodded nervously. Okay. We're getting past R-rated territory now and heading straight for the full monty. Though I'm not sure if 'straight' is the right word to use. But if I do this, we can't go back to the just buddies thing. Because then we'll be naked buddies. Or, half-way naked buddies, since I'm the only one naked. Well, not naked yet. But will be naked. And then I'll have been naked. And then we'll be patrolling, and it'll be all 'yeah, but I've seen you naked', because that just never goes away. We'll be playing pool at The Bronze and the naked thing will be there. I mean, not like my thing will be naked, because naked thing at The Bronze? Not my thing.

Spike was watching him expectantly. Xander slid his fingers into the elastic waistband of his boxers and did a bit of finagling to get the elastic past his erection. Only a moment later, the boxers were at his feet and he stepped out of them, leaving him standing in front of Spike, completely naked…and as nervous as he'd probably ever been in his entire life.

"Nice," Spike commented, eyes on Xander's hard-on. "Touch it."

Xander felt his cock throb in response. He reached with one hand and took hold of himself, squeezing gently, making himself moan again, watching Spike through lowered lashes.

"Make yourself come." Spike's voice was a little harsh. "Want to watch you."

Xander knew he was blushing again. Spike wanted to watch him come? He gulped. Okay, just knowing that was going to make the event humiliatingly speedy. He stroked himself once, squeezing again, but he didn't have any lube. He spit into his hand – oh very sexy – and stroked himself again, gasping. He kept his eyes on Spike's face, trying to read the expression in Spike's eyes.

It only took a few strokes. He'd been too worked up for too long. He was still watching Spike's eyes when he felt the orgasm crash through his body, making his eyes close, making his whole body stiffen and buck, making him sob out some inarticulate sound. He nearly fell down, which would have been the final indignity, but he somehow kept his feet and eventually opened his eyes, his breath still quick, his heart still beating fast, his body weak and throbbing, his dick softening in his hand.

Spike was watching him with eyes narrowed, his own chest rising and falling with shallow breaths.

"Good boy," he rasped, as if he too had been running the orgasm marathon. "Can go get cleaned up now."

Xander nodded, though his head felt like it was just sort of rolling around all out of control like one of those bobbing-head dolls old people put on the dashboards of their cars. His neck seemed to be made of rubber. The rest of his body seemed to have melted. He wondered how he was going to manage to walk to the bathroom when his legs had been dismantled while he wasn't looking.

He somehow managed to walk, though, and closed the bathroom door for some private freak-out time while he washed himself off.

Holy guacamole! I just jacked off in front of Spike! Because he told me to! What now? What does he want? Because he looked pretty wanty.

But when he came out of the bathroom, Spike was gone. Xander walked, still naked, to the kitchen, where he saw the postcard sitting face down on the table, the text side facing up, with all its information about domination parties and sex clubs. Across the back, covering most of the text, there were four letters scrawled in thick pen: DON'T.

3 Neurosis

Xander woke up in the morning to the sound of pouring rain. Instead of heading to the shower as he normally would, he staggered half-awake to the phone and called the site. Work was shut down for the day…one of the benefits of rain in the construction industry. Well, except that he wouldn't get paid. But right now, when he was half-asleep, that didn't seem nearly as important as getting another couple hours of sleep.

Ahhhhh, sweet slumber! I gladly return to thy comfy bosom!

He groggily shuffled back to the bed and crawled beneath the blankets. By the time he was once again lying flat on his back, however, he had woken up just barely enough to remember the previous night.

And everything stopped.

It was like the world froze, leaving him lying in the center, staring at the white stucco ceiling, his breath caught in his throat, his heart constricting in his chest, his skin prickling as if he'd just touched a light socket.

Spike. Naked me-ness. Naughty touching. And the…the watching.

Sure, yeah, the relevant body part sat up and took notice, but Xander was lost in the amazed, wondering, almost disbelieving realization that something had actually happened last night. Something had happened between him and Spike.

Everything had changed.

His whole life looked different now. Before, he'd been Xander the construction guy and night-time demon fighter. Now, he was Xander the construction guy and night-time demon fighter who had something going on with Spike.

Huge difference.

He tried to replay every single second of it in his mind, every expression on Spike's face, the moments when he shifted position slightly on the couch as if he was getting hard enough to be uncomfortable, the way he leaned forward when Xander was playing with his nipples, the way his eyes lingered on Xander's mouth when he licked his lips…

Okay, so it hadn't quite been the romantic revelation Xander had been dreaming about. Spike hadn't even kissed him. Hell, Spike hadn't even touched him. But there was no denying that it was a considerable change from playing pool at The Bronze and chatting about weaponry.

And there had been honest-to-goodness – or would that be honest- to-evilness?heat in Spike's eyes. Xander was sure of that much.

A lot of other stuff about what had happened might be confusing, but he was sure of the look in Spike's eyes.

But, yeah, actually, a lot of the rest made no sense at all. Why had Spike done it? Was it just because he didn't want Xander going to the sex club and supposedly getting killed? Or was that just an excuse? Did he want Xander as much as Xander wanted him? Okay, the answer to that one was no. Not when Xander had been dropping potentially flirtatious hints for months without getting any response.

So Spike didn't want Xander as much as Xander wanted him. But – and here was the thought that made his stomach tighten – maybe he did want Xander at least a little bit.

And if there was a little bit of wanting there, even just a little bit, then maybe it might turn into more.

I'm pretty sure Spike at least likes me. I mean, we're friends now – at least, I'm pretty sure we're friends – I've been horribly wrong about that in the past, but this time I think I'm right – and people tend to like their friends, right? Isn't that in the definition? Isn't that part of the whole friend "thing"? So…he likes me…and he wanted me to get naked. I don't think I'm totally insane to think this sounds promising. 'Cause when friends get naked with friends, it usually means more than friends.

His usual morning shower wank made him come so hard, his ears were ringing.

He almost wished work hadn't been called on account of the rain. The day was passing slowly, inching painfully toward dark, when he was supposed to meet everyone – including Spike – for patrol.

He even thought, briefly, about going to Spike's crypt, but that seemed just a little pathetically eager.

So instead he watched some TV – though he couldn't remember afterward what any of it was – and occasionally wandered into the kitchen to look at the postcard.

"DON'T." That's what Spike had written. It was the first thing Spike had ever written to him. And how pathetic was it that it made him happy? Spike had written something to him. Yay!

Of course, "DON'T" wasn't a particularly encouraging or personal message.

Well, it could be encouraging or personal, depending on what it referred to.

He was pretty sure it referred to the sex club, just Spike getting in the last word about whether Xander should go there or not. But maybe it was something else. He wracked his brain for possibilities.

Don't masturbate again. Too late.

Don't come to patrol tonight. No, he would have been more clear if it was that. Anyway, why would he want that?

Don't come bug me at my crypt. He wouldn't know I would think about that. Would he?

Don't think this meant anything. Too complicated. That wouldn't be what he meant. Right? Right?

He came to the conclusion that Spike had to have been referring to the sex club. He'd written it on the postcard, after all. But this conclusion led him to consider the nagging worry that had been hovering on the edge of his mind all morning.

Did Spike do this just because of the sex club? Was he just trying to keep me from going? Or did he want it?

And if it was just because of the sex club, is it possible – just possible – that he might see me differently now? Might think of "Xander" and "sex" as not entirely mutually exclusive concepts? Is it possible – just remotely possible – that this might lead to something, even if it isn't already there?

He figured that everything depended on how Spike acted on patrol tonight. He'd wait and see if Spike was friendly or distant or flirty or what. And that would give him a better idea of what was going on.

In the meantime, all the mooning had gotten him to feeling a bit of an estrogen overload, so he decided he needed to engage in some more manly pursuits to pass the time until dark. Get him feeling big and muscular and tough. Forget about all that staring at the postcard. He was big and muscular and tough! He was Xander! Hear him roar! Well, not actually roar, of course, because the neighbors already thought he was weird enough, what with all the late hours, but more of a metaphorical roar. A metaphor roar. A metaroar.

So he lifted weights for a while in the spare room, which used to be a closet, but it was big enough for a weight room, so he called it a room. It was plenty of room for him to work out on the weight bench, anyway, and so he put some effort into making himself sweat profusely, which passed an hour or so.

Then he got nervous that his manly musk might overwhelm everyone on patrol…in a bad way, not in a sex way. It might even attract unsavory demons…rather than the relatively savory demon whom he wanted to attract. So he took another shower.

Once he was reasonably certain that his odoriforousness would not offend, he spent some time practicing with the new knives Spike had given him for Christmas. He had a target set up in the spare "room," which often came in handy since the time loop, since he'd started the whole knife-throwing thing on patrol. The target came in especially handy times like now, when he felt like he was going crazy and needed something to focus on. It made him sort of understand why Spike used to toss his knife all the time. The rhythm was sort of relaxing.

Not that Spike tossed his knife much anymore. Maybe it had been a nervous thing, and he wasn't so nervous now. Or maybe it had been a way to keep himself entertained when he thought Xander was ignoring him. Whatever the cause, he'd stopped. Now knives were mostly Xander's thing.

It only took him a few throws to notice that the new knives handled really well. Spike had been right about the balance being perfect for throwing. Xander felt like kind of a shit for having been so ungrateful about the gift.

Well, tonight on patrol I can thank Spike properly. Uh…except not the way that sounded. I mean, unless he wants…what that sounded like. And maybe he does. Except not with Willow and Tara watching, because, hello, sort of kinky I guess, but definitely not that kinky.

It was the longest day of his life.

Well, except for the time loop. But that didn't count.

It was only about an hour before dark when the phone rang. Remembering suddenly that Willow had given Spike a stylish black cell phone for Christmas, Xander ran for the phone.


"Hey, Xander. Been playing with your shiny Christmas presents?"

Willow sounded so chipper and friendly, Xander tried not to sound disappointed. "Actually, yeah. We still on for patrol? Umbrella brigade?"

"Nope. Spike called and said no patrol tonight. Apparently Bregni demons aren't big on the whole getting wet thing. So they'll be hiding out, and we get the night off. Want to come over for movies and pizza?"

But Xander was still stuck on the first thing she'd said. "Spike called you?" Why'd he call Willow, and not me? Especially after last night. He could have called me to leave a message about patrol. But he called Willow instead.

"Yup. Just to give us the heads up about tonight. See? The phone is useful already. I am Resourceful Christmas Gift-Giving Girl."

"Wills, do you think" – god, how pathetic do I sound? – "do you think Spike likes me?" Where is my manly dignity? Because I think I lost it somewhere along the way here. Maybe around the time I read that stupid postcard for the twentieth time.

Only silence came along the phone line. Okay, so the question had seemed less of an abrupt change of topic inside his own head. Because the topic in his head hadn't changed all day. Eventually, Willow offered tentatively, "Of course he likes you, Xander. He just called me because I was the one who gave him the phone…"

"No, not about the phone thing. I mean really. Do you think Spike likes me?"

Willow was silent for another long moment. "Ummm…do you mean likes you likes you?"

And here we are doing the seventh grade thing again. Why does Spike turn me into an emotional 12 year old? But he actually really wanted Willow's opinion. She was better with stuff like this than he was. Hell, Dawn was probably better with stuff like this than he was. Hell, even Giles was probably better with stuff like this than he was, and wasn't that a scary thought? "No, just…do you think he likes me? As…as a friend…as…anything."

"Sure. I think he likes all of us now. We're kind of like his family, you know? Or I guess he might say 'minions' instead of 'family', but I think that sounds kind of rude, since I'm not all that comfy with the minion thing, but he is still a vampire, so…"

"It's just…I thought he liked me before," Xander interrupted. "Before the time looping stuff, I mean. And I was completely wrong. Wrong to the nth degree. Wrong like garlic ice-cream is wrong. And I guess I was hoping that I'm not wrong this time."

"Xander," she paused before continuing with obvious concern in her voice, "are you having the warm fuzzy Spike feelings again?"

Xander laughed in that way you laugh at things that are in no way funny. "Never stopped, Will. But there's only so many times you can say, 'He's still not interested,' before people's eyes start glazing over."

"Did my eyes glaze? Because I never meant to glaze. You know I care…"

"No, Will, it's okay. I didn't mean you. I just meant in general. After a while, there isn't much to talk about when the situation never changes."

"So…you're talking about it now. Does that mean the situation changed?"

Darn that Willow and her gigantic brain! She caught me. Xander considered lying, but even the thought made him feel guilty. So he hedged, "I'm not sure."

Sounding cautiously hopeful on his behalf, she asked, "Did something happen?"

Again with the hedging. "Sort of."

He could almost see Willow bouncing in hopeful excitement when she eagerly asked, "What? What happened? I want details!"

Details? No! No, definitely not giving the details. So, okay, and now with the even worse hedging. "I…I'd rather not talk about it. It's…I'm still not sure exactly what's going on."

"Oh." Great. He'd made her make the sad, hurt Willow sound, the one that always made him feel like he'd just come home from a long day clubbing baby seals or something. Like he was a bad bad person.

"I'm sorry, Will."

"It's okay. But you know you can talk to me if you want to."

"I do want to, Will. Just…not right now. I'm sorry." If he apologized any more, he was going to lose the few manliness credentials he had remaining, if he even had any left at this point. It just sucked. He hated keeping secrets from Willow.

Of course, he'd been keeping secrets from Spike ever since the time loop.

He was becoming Xander the Secret-Keeping Guy, and he didn't like it much. He was used to being pretty honest with the people he cared about. Okay, not Anya-level honesty, because some things just don't need to be said, especially in public, but still. Honest. Pretty much. Secrets, he was discovering, were very much not his thing. Too stressful.

But sometimes it was hard to tell the truth.

I mean, really. What am I going to tell her? "Oh, last night, Spike told me to take off my clothes and make with the slippery solo handshake while he watched, and I did it, but I'm not sure if that makes us boyfriends or fuck buddies or just friends who happen to have engaged in one unexpected evening of kinky living room masturbation indulgence."

Not going to happen. Because (A) embarrassing. And (B) embarrassing. And (C) did I mention embarrassing? Not going to be telling Willow about the whole "masturbation while being watched" thing. Or the "taking orders from Spike" thing. If there was kissage to discuss, I'd be dishing with Wills all night long. But weirdo sex games? Hm. No, not so much with the sharing.

The conversation ended awkwardly. Xander declined to join them for movies and pizza, feeling vaguely guilty about the secret-keeping and not wanting to spend all evening fighting Willow's "you can tell me anything" face.

Plus, Spike might call.

Willow said all the right things, being the good friend as always, but Xander could tell that she felt hurt.

When he hung up the phone, he turned around and went into the kitchen, got himself a beer, and sat down at the table. He looked at the post card.

Damn Spike! This is all his fault!

An hour later, Xander was sitting in front of the TV, pretending to himself that he was interested in…wait, what was it now? Oh, right. Iron Chef. He couldn't even remember what ingredient they were using. And what was he doing watching the cooking channel, anyway?

The problem was a slip of paper sitting on the phone table.

Before they'd hung up, Willow had given him the number to Spike's cell.

He told himself he should have the number anyway. The whole reason Spike had a phone was so that he could get in touch with the Scoobies and they could get in touch with him. It would make arranging patrols a lot easier, and Spike wanted everyone to be able to get him in an emergency.

This is not an emergency, Xander reminded himself. Repeatedly. What am I going to do? Make something up? Be honest and say, "Hey, Spike, there's an emergency in my pants"? I don't think so. And, anyway, if he wanted to talk to me, he would have called me. I am not doing that "wait by the phone" thing.

He waited in the same room as the phone – but not by the phone, it's a very fine distinction – until 9:12 p.m.

When Spike answered the phone, there was a lot of noise in the background. He barked simply, "Yeah?"

Xander was taken aback by the noise and the attitude. Where was Spike? What was he doing? And who was he doing it with? And why? And…other question words. Many question words. Some of which might not even exist in English.

"Spike?" Oh, right. Because his identity is so much in question. Why did I say that?

There was a bit of a pause, then Spike's voice, surprised, "Harris?" It sounded like he was in a bar. Lots of people talking in the background.

"Uh, yeah. It's me. Xander. Harris."

Another pause. Then Spike, impatient: "And?"

"Oh, um, right. So, um…" He hadn't really planned out what to say, and that was now finding its way to the top of his personal list of stupid decisions. And then words just popped out of his mouth with absolutely no permission from his brain. "Don't what?"

"What's that?" The background noise seemed a little quieter now.

Well, once you've said something stupid, may as well go with it. It's already said, anyway. Can't take it back. And…okay…so he really wanted the answer.

"You wrote 'don't' on the postcard. Don't what?"

There wasn't much noise at all now. Maybe Spike had gone outside or something. "What do you think, genius?" There was something in Spike's voice, something kind of funny. He sounded really surprised and maybe confused, too, which made Xander wonder why he wouldn't have expected this. They'd messed around. Of course Xander would want to…want to call up and…okay, so maybe he hadn't expected Xander to call up and want to chat about the whole kinky sex thing. It wasn't really within their usual realm of conversational topics. But today was not usual. Nothing about it was usual. Except maybe as compared to last night. Because that was even more not usual.


Xander realized he'd been quiet too long. And why did Spike keep calling him by his last name? They'd kind of gotten onto a first name basis lately, so why the throwback? And what had Spike asked him? Oh, right, about what he thought the message on the card was about.

"I'm not sure. The…the club?"

"Got it in one. You go there and I'll find out. And I'll kick your ass myself if you don't end up dead first."

Xander's stomach was in knots, but he said it anyway. "I thought you said it would be okay if you went, too."

Another silence. And then: "Figured you for a one-timer, Harris. Didn't think you'd have the balls for more'n that."

Xander replied without thinking, "Make no assumptions about my balls, mister!" and then realized that it sounded incredibly stupid. Too late. He cringed and waited for Spike to laugh.

But Spike didn't. Instead, he said cautiously, "Up for more fun and games, are we?"

Xander's stomach did a rather impressive stop, drop, and roll. And his throat was suddenly really swollen. Like he couldn't swallow and might suffocate. He gulped air and tried to find the ability to form words. He squeaked, "Yes?"

Spike was quiet again.

After a minute – or ten or twenty or Xander didn't really know because his sense of time was all screwed up – he eventually said tentatively, "You could come over and we could…I don't know…uh…talk…about…you know…the stuff."

Spike repeated with a smirk in his voice, "The 'stuff'."

Xander was embarrassed enough to be frustrated. "You know what I mean."

And Spike replied smoothly, "Know what you mean, pet. And it ain't talking you're after."

Xander blushed and tried to think of what to say, because suddenly it seemed like something was going on and it was all happening really fast and it sounded like Spike was going to come over and…do stuff with him again. Maybe more stuff. Different stuff. Stuff that involved actual touching. Of each other. At least, he hoped.

He hadn't come up with anything to say by the time Spike added, "Be there in two shakes. We'll get that pesky itch all nice and scratched." And then he hung up.

Xander put the phone back in its cradle, feeling a bit dazed. So…maybe it is just because of the sex club? But he didn't sound like he was being forced into anything. I mean, he sounded perfectly happy to come over here and…whatever. But even if he isn't into me now, maybe he will be. He'll get to know me better, not just like a pal. And he might start to feel more. It's worth a shot. And, hey, naughtiness with Spike! Not exactly a hardship! Er…no pun intended.

Xander looked around the apartment nervously. He hadn't left the apartment all day, so his feet were still bare. He considered putting on socks. But if things went well, he'd just need to take the socks off again. So he'd stick with the bare feet.

He sat down on the couch, barefoot, and held the TV Guide without reading it. And waited.

4 The Dodge

When Xander opened the door, Spike walked in close, moving past him with their bodies almost touching. With Xander in his bare feet and Spike in boots, they were almost the same height, Spike just a bit taller for once, and Spike's face was very close as he passed. He had a look in his eye that Xander hadn't seen in a long time. He'd seen Spike confident. He'd seen Spike smug. He'd seen him amused and intense and occasionally domineering to the point of obnoxiousness. He'd even, last night, seen him turned-on, or at least he thought he had.

But this look was trouble.

It was a vampire look, a predator look. Accompanied with the walking too close, it set a certain expectation for what would happen next. And it almost certainly wasn't going to be parcheesi.

Standing so that they were almost touching, Spike reached past Xander and closed the front door, smiling slightly. He kept his hand on the door, his body leaning toward Xander, almost trapping him.

"What you said, on the phone," Xander babbled nervously, "about scratching and itching…"

Apparently parcheesi wasn't the only thing Spike hadn't been planning, because talking obviously wasn't on the evening's menu, either. He tilted his head, looking impatient. "Yeah?"

Xander smiled weakly. "You're not just doing this for me, are you? Because I…I mean…"

But he didn't get a chance to clarify, because Spike was grinning at him. "I'm touched. Really." A chuckle and a shake of the head, as if he was finding something highly amusing. "Just 'cause I work with you lot, you thought I'd turned into some kind of vampire Mother Theresa?" A wolfish grin. "Sorry, mate, I don't do charity work."

"But you came over…"

"Gonna make it worth my while, aren't you? No strip tease this time. Done with teasing. This time, you make me come."

And at those words, Xander promptly lost his brain. It fell out somewhere, or maybe just became instantly paralyzed, but he wasn't worried about finding it, wasn't worried about his brain at all in fact, because Spike's voice when he said those words was low and rough and wanting.

Spike was wanting. Wanting him. Him. Xander. Spike was wanting him. And that was huge. World- shiftingly huge. Because this wasn't the resentful, rejected Spike from the time loop. This was Spike big and bad and arrogant and choosing to get naughty with him.

And he wanted Xander to make him come. He'd never actually seen Spike come, never seen what his face looked like when he lost control, because he'd always looped out before it happened. But now he was going to see it, going to see Spike's face. Not just imagine it, like he had a million times. He was going to actually see it, actually going to be there when Spike came. Came because of him.

All these jumbled thoughts swirled through his paralyzed brain in an instant. But there was no way he could have formed a complete sentence understandable by other life forms. Not right then. Verbs. Nouns. Way too complicated. All his brain was really capable of saying in that moment was, Guh?

And what came out of his mouth was just an embarrassingly breathless, "Okay."

Spike leaned a bit closer, his eyes flickering over Xander's face, and Xander caught his breath – kissing seemed imminent – but then Spike abruptly pulled away to walk into the living room, where he dropped onto the couch, just as he'd done last time. He pushed the coffee table away with one foot and said, "C'mere."

Xander walked on only slightly unsteady legs and stopped to stand on the other side of the coffee table. "C'mere," Spike repeated, gesturing to the floor in front of him where his booted feet were set wide apart.

Okay, this looked like it was maybe going in a familiar direction, which helped Xander calm down a bit as he walked forward. He stood with his bare feet between Spike's boots, his legs between Spike's spread knees, and watched Spike's face for any hint of what he was thinking, aside from the obvious. But Spike's face was unreadable.

"On your knees," he said with a bit of a smirk, and Xander complied. To steady himself as he knelt, he rested his hands on Spike's thighs, then realized that was a fairly intimate touch. He looked up to make sure Spike wasn't offended or something, but Spike was only watching him.

What's he thinking? Does he want me to just do what he says? Or do I get some say here, too? Because I like the whole him telling me what to do thing, but…I want it to be more than that.

On his knees now, his weight firmly settled, Xander kept his eyes on Spike's face as he dared to stroke his hands along Spike's denim-clad thighs. Spike eyed him in that same lordly way Xander remembered from the time loop and said, "Undo my jeans."

Xander let his hands slide further up along Spike's thighs, over the bulge beneath his fly – He's hard. Oh god. Okay, it would be really embarrassing to come from just that. – until both hands hovered at the top button at his waist. He pushed Spike's black t-shirt up a bit to get it out of the way, revealing a pale sliver of skin. The jeans were tight enough that he had to slide his fingers pretty snugly against Spike's stomach, and he felt the muscles twitch.

Not going to come. Not going to come. Well, eventually going to come, at least I hope so, but not right now, not while we've still got all our clothes on and all I've really touched is his stomach.

When the button was released, Xander kept his fingers inside the denim, sliding down along the inner seam to give him leverage to open the next button. No underwear. He felt Spike's cock, and yeah, it was hard. At that first touch, Spike jerked slightly, but when Xander looked up at him, his face was still carefully composed.

I wonder how long it's been since he had sex. I mean, he's not with us all the time. What does he do when he's out on his own? It sounded like he was at a bar or something when I called earlier. I suppose he could be getting laid every night, if he wanted to. I mean, duh. Of course he could, if he wanted to. He's Spike.

So why do I get the feeling it's been a while?

Xander rubbed one finger slowly against the side of Spike's cock. He couldn't move much inside the tight jeans, but it was enough to make Spike take a quick surprised breath. Xander's own cock throbbed at the sound.

Returning to his task, Xander slid his hands down to the next button and popped it free. Spike's cock now thrust insistently against the back of his hand, and suddenly he just wanted to tear off all of Spike's clothes and leap on him.

But that was sort of what he'd done during the time loop, and it hadn't worked out so well. This time, Spike was leading. He couldn't fuck this up if he just followed what Spike wanted. Right?

Xander slid his hands down just enough to release the next button with a slight give, the rough fabric parting a bit more as he slid his hand further down to the next button. He'd given up on watching Spike's face right now, because he couldn't tear his eyes away from that slowly emerging cock. He opened the last two buttons in quick succession, getting impatient to move on to the next stage, wanting to taste Spike again after spending so long remembering and wanting.

He glanced up at Spike to make sure he hadn't misread the situation. This was what he wanted, right?

Spike's face was tight and closed, letting nothing show. But his voice was a bit ragged when he said, "Go on. Suck it."

Xander tried to pull Spike's jeans down, but Spike shook his head. "No. Leave it."

Xander nodded and licked his lips, a bit nervous after all because it had been a while. But the sight of Spike's eyes suddenly focused on his mouth took care of any hesitation. Xander took Spike's cock into his hand and squeezed.

Spike arched, just a little, and gasped, "Ah!" His smug superior act was looking a bit worn around the edges, but he obviously wanted to stay in control. And that was probably the most seductive thing Xander had ever seen, because it made him want to do everything in his power to make Spike lose that control. He leaned over and quickly licked the head of Spike's cock, making Spike arch again, biting his lip. Xander shifted position slightly as his own cock throbbed for attention. Why didn't I wear looser pants?

His eyes now trained on Spike's face, he leaned forward and slid the head into his mouth, sucking gently. Xander saw a movement out of the corner of his eye and looked aside out of curiosity. It looked like Spike's hands were clenched on the couch cushions, which seemed like a good sign. He returned his gaze to Spike's face and slowly slid his mouth down.

Spike's jaw looked tense now, a muscle in his cheek standing out in clear relief. When Xander gave the first good, hard suck, Spike jerked and his eyes closed for a moment. But then he was looking down again, frowning slightly, watching Xander between his legs.

"If I didn't know better, I'd think you'd done this before." Spike's voice sounded a bit gravelly. After a moment, he said suspiciously, "But maybe you've got secrets, yeah? Maybe you have done this before?" Xander kept busy, kept tonguing and sucking Spike's cock, but inside he started to panic.

Oh god. I'm going to have to tell him about the time loop. Because just not saying a thing is one thing, but actually saying a thing that isn't true is just…that's another thing. Totally different things. And I'm not going to do that. Especially when this…thing…is going on between us. I'm not going to lie.

Spike pulled on his hair, pulling his face up to look at him with narrowed eyes. "Xander? 'S that how you got that postcard? You been slutting yourself around?"

Xander shook his head as much as was possible with Spike's hands tight in his hair. "No! You're the only guy I've ever…"

Spike interrupted him, saying flatly, "Good."

Good? Why would he care? Unless he…you know…cares.

But Spike was pushing his head down again and that familiar cock was nudging at his lips and, suddenly, telling Spike about the time loop didn't seem that crucial. It didn't have to happen right now. There would be plenty of time later.

I'm such a coward.

With Spike's jeans in the way, Xander couldn't really touch as much as he wanted to, couldn't reach his balls, so he put all his attention into working Spike's cock with his tongue and lips, sucking, even scraping a bit with his teeth. And Spike's hip thrusts and quiet moans were only serving to get him more and more turned on, himself.

He kept his eyes trained on Spike's face, and so he saw when those blue eyes suddenly clenched shut and those pink lips parted on a loud groan. And as he watched Spike's face, as he tasted Spike's come in his mouth, Xander suddenly felt himself rocketing over that edge, too.

He felt completely limp, his cheek pressed to the denim of Spike's thigh, his eyes closed. He was still catching his breath when a hand stroking his hair made him turn his head. Xander could feel moisture on his face. Spike's come. And Spike's hand in his hair, lightly touching. Xander looked at him.

Spike's voice was lazy. "Good boy. Think you deserve a reward." A bit of a smirk.

Xander was confused for a moment – he'd never done any of his greatest thinking in the five minutes immediately following an orgasm – but then understanding dawned. "Oh! A reward!" He blushed and sat up a bit, looking away, self-consciously wiping at his chin and mouth. "Uh, actually, I sort of already had my reward." Why do I always blush so much around Spike? It's humiliating, is what it is. But, you know, I've never been big on announcing that I just came in my pants. It just isn't something the world needs to know. Not that it happens all that often, of course. Because…hello! Embarrassing! His face prickling with heat, he looked back at Spike, sort of hopeful and embarrassed at the same time. "But I could have another reward. Just give me a few minutes."

Spike's smirk got smirkier. "Next time, luv."

Next time? So he's planning on a next time? Definitely planning on it? Woo hoo! He shoots, he scores! Um, wait. That sounded wrong. But, you know, he did shoot. And so did I. And apparently we are again, sometime. Woo hoo!

At a glance from Spike, Xander carefully tucked him back into his jeans and rebuttoned everything. Then he stood up and got out of the way when Spike got to his feet.

There was a sort of awkward moment as they both stood there next to the crooked coffee table. Then Xander realized that he was blocking the way, and so he stepped aside. As Spike passed, so close, their faces at just the right height, Xander's heart rose into his throat and he stepped forward again in his bare feet, his hand coming to lightly touch Spike's shoulder, his face moving in for their first kiss. Their first non-time loop kiss.

Spike stepped away.

No kiss. Xander's hand was left suspended in mid-air a moment until he noticed it there and let it fall to his side. Spike stepped away. He knew I was going to kiss him, right? He purposely dodged? Maybe he didn't know. Maybe he just thought I was getting in his way. Yeah, right, because that is so likely. It was definitely a dodge. There was definite dodging action.

Spike was frowning, and Xander suspended his own internal monologue at the horrified realization that he sort of recognized that frown. It looked a little bit like a time loop frown. It reminded him of the frown that said, if he wasn't mistaken, "Why are you acting like you give a shit about me when we both know you don't?" It was like the time loop all over again.

Xander panicked.

"You know you're my best friend, right?" The words were almost unintelligible, he said them so fast.

Spike's frown deepened. "Don't worry, Harris. I wasn't planning any candlelit dinners just because you sucked my cock."

"Wait, that's not what I meant!"

But Spike already had the door open. "Patrol tomorrow. Don't be late. We've still got some Bregnis to deal with." And then he was gone.

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