Late Night Double Feature

Kimberly A

5 Friends

The next night on patrol, Spike acted perfectly normal. As if nothing had changed. No secret glances. No sly flirtatious remarks. No indication whatsoever that anything had happened.

It drove Xander crazy.

It's because Willow and Tara are here, he told himself. Otherwise, we'd be talking about it. Or, okay, probably not talking about it, but, you know, not ignoring it, either. There would be acknowledgment. Things would be acknowledged. But right now all Spike seems to be acknowledging is that the Bregni demons are making themselves scarce. Where are his priorities, I ask you? More important things are going on around here. Like blow jobs. And dodged kisses. And oddly avoidy vampires who won't make eye contact.

When Spike declared the Bregni hunt a loss for the night, Willow piped up that Xander could walk her and Tara home, and Spike simply shrugged and waved a hand in a vague salute before heading off to do who knows what.

Off to hang out at loud talky places where I won't phone him on his cell phone, even if last time he came over afterward. Because I'm not desperate. Nope. Not desperate. Ahh, sweet, sweet denial.

Willow and Tara were unusually quiet on the walk to the house. When they got to the door, Xander started to offer goodnight hugs, but Willow gave him a look. It was the kind of look that deserved a capital L. It was a Look. It said, "You're not going anywhere, buster."

Xander heaved a resigned sigh and followed them into the house. Tara excused herself to go upstairs and do something – do what wasn't entirely clear, since she sort of mumbled and then practically vanished, though you shouldn't say things like that about witches, since there might in fact be actual vanishing – and Willow dragged him into the kitchen and sat him down at the table. When she turned the Look on him again, Xander slouched and looked away.

Willow sat across the table from him and looked at him worriedly. "What's up with you tonight?"

Here I am making my innocent face. "What do you mean?"

Willow frowned her cutest little "I'm worried about you" frown. He'd been seeing it since kindergarten, and it never failed to melt his heart. "I'm worried about you." Apparently the innocent face failed in its mission. Maybe I should practice it in the mirror or something. Yes, because I am not already enough of a crazy person…I now need to set aside time from my busy schedule in order to make faces at myself in the bathroom mirror. A sure sign of sanity.

"Nothing to worry about. I'm right as rain. But, you know, how right is rain, anyway? People tend to want to avoid rain, right? So wouldn't rain be more accurately described as wrong? But nobody says 'wrong as rain'. Huh."

But Willow just watched him, her worried face still worried.

"What? I'm not acting funny or anything. I'm just me. Just the same old Xander, with the knife-throwing and the carpentrying and the sometimes inappropriate humor." He smiled his best innocent smile. It was no more successful than the innocent face had been.

"You were really quiet during patrol. And you kept staring at Spike."

What? She noticed? Did Spike notice? Because that would just make my night complete. He's blowing me off – unflatteringly soon after I blew him, I might add – and everybody notices that I'm staring at him like some kind of slack-jawed love-sick moron?

Willow watched him, still looking concerned and hopeful, obviously waiting for him to open up and tell her what was going on, but he couldn't tell her. No way. But then he realized he could tell her part of it, and it might actually be kind of nice to get her opinion.

"I tried to kiss Spike last night," he said all in a rush before he could chicken out.

"What?" Willow was grinning now, bouncing a bit in her chair. "You kissed Spike?"

Xander raised a hand in a sort of traffic stop motion, his mouth twisted in a rueful mockery of a smile. "I didn't say 'kissed', Will. I said 'tried to kiss'. Big difference."

Willow looked confused, which was sort of flattering, actually. So it doesn't occur to her that Spike might actively avoid being kissed by me. Nice to know that somebody considers me kissable. Even if she does happen to be lesbian. Maybe if Spike was lesbian, I'd have better luck. Willow probably has a spell for that, but this train of thought is just getting wronger by the second. Willow was still watching him expectantly.

Xander sighed and went for honesty. "I tried to kiss him last night. He dodged."

Willow frowned deeply. "Maybe it was a misunderstanding. You know, like he thought you were reaching past him to get the TV remote and so he thought he was getting out of your way. That sort of thing."

"No, he definitely dodged. He couldn't've been dodgier."

Willow seemed to still be having trouble absorbing this information. "Why? I mean, what was the situation? Why did you finally decide to kiss him all of a sudden? Something must have changed, right? Like…whatever it was you didn't want to tell me before."

She looked hurt again, and Xander felt a pang of guilt. But he wasn't going to discuss kinky sex antics with Willow. It would be kind of like showing porny pictures to a nun. It was just wrong. Not that Willow was a nun. He was perfectly aware that she and Tara were un-nun- like, though he tried not to imagine the details…well, except when he did, but those times were few, and not recent. And never to be mentioned.

No, Willow wasn't a nun, but she still had a sort of innocence to her that made kinky sex seem like something that just shouldn't ever ever be discussed. Ever. Just telling her about the time-loop sex had made her blush so hard he'd worried she might burst a blood vessel or something.

So he went for vagueness. It had never worked before, but he was eternally hopeful.

"He…said some stuff…about sex" – which was true, since there was no denying that Spike had been talking, and that sex had been the topic, he was just leaving out the picky little detail that there had been a naked penis involved – "and it sort of led me to believe that…I don't know…that he might be interested." See? Vague, and yet not lying. The whole "suck my cock" thing does seem to indicate that Spike might be interested in more than friendship. Right?

"You talked about sex?" Xander nodded, hoping Willow wasn't going to ask for details. Please let the vagueness work! Please let the vagueness work! "What sort of stuff did he say?" Damn. The vagueness never works.

"Just…stuff." He knew he was blushing and swore to himself he would work on his tan this year. Living on the Hellmouth, what were the chances he'd live long enough to get skin cancer? The blush camouflage would be worth the risk.

Willow nodded slowly, watching him. "Ooookay. Stuff. He said 'stuff' about sex, and you thought this meant he wanted you to kiss him?"

"It's not like I really thought it through all that clearly. It wasn't like a 'sex equals liplock' decision in my head. It was just…something finally happened, you know? I've been waiting for months, ever since the time loop, and it finally happened."

Willow sat up a bit straighter and looked like she'd had some kind of realization. "The sex stuff he said…was it time loop sex stuff? Did you finally tell him?"

Xander looked away.

"Wait. You tried to kiss him, and you haven't even told him the truth yet?" Her voice was filled with disappointment and disapproval. Ouch.

He looked at her again, wanting her to understand. "It isn't that simple. I want to tell him, but I don't want to mess things up. We're friends now, you know?" He desperately wanted her to say it was okay. Even though he knew it wasn't. He knew he was making excuses, and that it sucked.

"You have to tell him, Xander. Friends shouldn't keep secrets from friends." Her face showed that she wasn't just thinking of Spike, here.

"You've gotta admit, though, that this isn't your normal 'I broke the toaster oven' sort of secret. This is an 'I had sex with you and you don't remember it' secret. Kind of on a different level of secretness."

Willow frowned. "You're the one who broke the toaster oven?"

"What?" Uh oh. Innocent face again.

"You did! You broke our toaster oven!" Damn. Innocent face just never works. Definitely need to practice it in the mirror.

"Hey, I fixed it!"

"Yeah, but you acted all surprised, like 'Oh, the toaster oven is broken? How'd that happen?'"

"Can we focus on Spike and his finely honed kiss-dodging ability?"

Willow pouted, "Sorry. I'm just feeling some toaster oven betrayal."

Okay, hello, defensiveness. "Wait, is this some kind of little-known rule? Friends don't let friends break toaster ovens? Because I fixed the toaster oven with my manly powers of fixingness. And I'd hate to have my friend credentials revoked over a rarely-used household appliance."

"We use it all the time. It's good for frozen waffles."

"And again I notice that we have strayed from the crucial subject here. Which is Spike." He looked down at his hands, miserable.

They were both quiet for a minute. He looked back up to meet her eyes, and she didn't look upset anymore. Good old Willow, queen of forgiveness. What would I do without you?

She said gently, "Back when you first told me about the stuff during the time loop, you said you wanted to romance Spike, right? So…what happened to that plan? Isn't Spike worth a bit of romancing?"

Xander looked down at the table. "I just…I suck at the romance thing. I mean, I've never really romanced anybody before, and Spike isn't exactly an easy guy to romance. What, am I supposed to bring him flowers and candy? Serenade him under the stars? Because outside of cheesy movies, I haven't really seen a lot of romancing to learn from. And I don't think Spike would appreciate a candlelit dinner and a dozen roses."

Willow smiled slightly. "Maybe he'd surprise you."

"Oh, I'm sure he would. But I doubt it would be a pleasant surprise." He imagined the sheer extent of potential Spike mockery and cringed inside.

"How can you know unless you try?"

Xander stared at the table, not replying. A couple of minutes passed. Then Willow spoke again.

"Xander, Spike's your friend, right?" He nodded uhappily. "Well, as your friend, he deserves better than this. You have to tell him about the time loop."

That brought Xander's head up. "But, Will, if I tell him right now, while everything is all messed up, with the kiss dodge and everything, then I might lose him even as a friend. I don't know what he's thinking right now, you know? I need to figure that stuff out, first. Make sure he knows that I'm his friend, that I care about him."

Willow was watching him with sad eyes. "You've spent the past few months making sure he knew we all care about him, Xander. You've worked really hard to make things better for him, to get to be friends with him, to make him feel better about himself. And that's really admirable. You've done a lot for him, even if he doesn't know. But that doesn't mean you can't move forward. And it doesn't make it okay to lie to him."

Xander flinched. "I'm not lying to him. I just…haven't told him everything."

Her voice was gentle but firm when she said, "It's the same thing."

He looked at her, feeling lost. "I don't know how. I mean, Spike and me, we're buds now, but we don't really sit around talking about our feelings, you know? Our friendship is more of the WWF- watching, beer-drinking, smack-talking variety. Not the deep sharing variety."

Willow reached across the table and took his hand, squeezing gently. "I have faith in you, Xander. You can do it."

On his drive home, Xander's head was swimming with all the things he "should" do to fix things with Spike.

Find out how Spike is feeling.

Make sure he knows we're really friends.

Tell him about the time loop.

Romance him, whatever that means.

Not to mention the whole sex thing, which I didn't tell Willow about but which I still need to figure out on my own.

Too many things that needed doing. Too many things to think about. And all of it seemed impossible. He didn't even know where to start.

As he lay in bed, waiting to fall asleep, Xander imagined a perfect world in which Spike knocked on the door and strode into the room, all black-wearing and attitude-having. His imaginary Spike didn't use hair gel, though, and so his hair was sort of fluffy and messed up. He was carrying a bouquet of red roses.

"I've been wanting to tell you something," said fluffy imaginary Spike.

"Really?" replied Xander, standing in the living room in his bare feet. He wasn't wearing a shirt, and imaginary Spike's imaginary eyes blatantly admired his naked pecs. Xander flexed.

"You're my best mate," imaginary Spike said, walking closer, coming to a stop only inches away from Xander, "but you're more than that."

"I am?" Xander breathed, looking into imaginary Spike's imaginary blue eyes.

"Yeah. I've been wanting to do this for a long time." And then imaginary Spike reached out and pulled him close – the roses had conveniently disappeared somewhere – and kissed him deep and slow. When he pulled away, Xander just stared.

"We had sex during the time loop," Xander blurted out.

Imaginary Spike just smiled. "Good to know. Let's have sex again now."

By the time imaginary Spike had gotten his imaginary boots off, Xander was asleep.

Part Six

The next day at work, Xander made so many mistakes his boss threatened to send him home until he got a grip. Of course, Walt didn't word it that politely. Language on the site tended to be a bit more colorful than among the Scoobies.

But then Spike could potty mouth with the best – or worst – of 'em.

And that was what was distracting Xander so badly that he short- cutted a dozen 2-by-4s by three inches each…just enough so that they'd all need to be replaced. Well, it wasn't exactly Spike's dirty-talking that was distracting, though too much thought on that topic was a little too interesting as well, given recent events.

Basically, it was just Spike.

Or, rather, the fact that he'd be seeing Spike for patrol that night, and he had a jumble of ideas clanging around in his head about how he should act and what he should say and even – god this was humiliating – what he should wear.

He was leaning toward the solid green pullover. Willow said it brought out his eyes.

But it wasn't just patrol that had him so nervous. Today was Friday. That meant the movies. Which now seemed decidedly date-like, even though he and Spike had gone to the Sunnydale Majestic's Midnight Creature Feature every Friday night for the past two months. Well, every Friday night except when they were distracted by Sunnydale's real-life creature features.

They'd first started going because a midnight horror movie in Sunnydale seemed like some kind of sick joke. They'd speculated that it would be a vampire feeding ground, and they'd been right. They caught a few fledges there every Friday while they watched the movie, and they always had a great time cracking jokes and heckling and throwing popcorn at the screen during the most ridiculous bits. It was one of the highlights of Xander's week.

It had always been a buddy thing in the past, but with everything that was going on, it now felt like an opportunity for something more. Going to the movies together was a date-y thing to do, right? Sitting in the dark together, holding hands, sharing popcorn, leaning in close to whisper.

Of course, Spike tended to talk out loud during the movies – often even shouting at the screen – so he was unlikely to lean in close to whisper anything. And it was pretty hard to imagine Spike holding hands with anybody, let alone another guy.

But the possibilities still had Xander nervous enough to fumble around all day as if he'd never worked a table saw before.

When they closed up the site at 4 – one of the few nice things about starting work at the construction worker's butt-crack of dawn – Xander headed home for a couple hours of supposed relaxation before meeting everybody over at the Summers house for patrol.

He changed his clothes eleven times before he settled on the green pullover.

It's times like these when I actually miss Cordy, because if nothing else she always seems to know what clothes to wear. But even she might be stumped by this whole "uncertainly date-like double feature of patrol-and-movie with a potentially gay vampire" situation. Not exactly an occasion for which Hallmark cards exist…or Cosmo fashion tips. Not to mention the "come clean about the time loop" optional adjunct to the evening. And the potential "kinky gay sex" nightcap.

He thought briefly about phoning Cordy in L.A. to ask her for possible-gay-vampire-date fashion advice, but immediately dismissed the idea. How was he supposed to explain the situation? On the other hand, Willow already knew most of the situation, but Willow – wonderful though she was, and cute as a button, and wise in many matters – was not someone from whom to seek fashion tips. Even Xander knew that much. He didn't plan to meet Spike tonight wearing anything fuzzy. Or corduroy. And no hats.

He picked tiny specks of lint off his green pullover and waited for sunset.

Xander parked his car in front of the Summers house – Buffy's house, his mind whispered, but he didn't listen, it still felt wrong, though maybe someday it would seem right again – just as the sky was fading from sunset to darkness. Wiping his palms against his jeans, he walked up the steps and knocked, then opened the door without waiting. It was what they all did. Only the girls lived here, but it was in some ways home to all of them, in the same way the school library had once been home. It was where they gathered.

"Hello?" he called as he stepped inside and closed the door behind him. Nobody was in the living room.

But Willow came down the stairs almost immediately, smiling a smile that made Xander think, Uh oh. Whatever this is, I'm not going to like it.

"We aren't going on patrol tonight," Willow said, nervously fidgeting with the hem of her shirt, tugging and straightening in some sort of unnecessary dance. "Tara's sick."

Xander watched her. Obviously something else was going on. "Sick," he repeated dubiously.

Willow nodded quickly. "Yeah, she's sick. So you and Spike will have to go on your own tonight."

Xander rolled his eyes. So that's what this is all about. "Gosh, that's awfully convenient, Will. Yesterday you bug me to talk to Spike, and today you can't go on patrol?"

Willow's face looked a bit pink and her eyes got a bit shifty.

Should have known better than to try to pull one over on the Xan- Man. I've been seeing through your little white lies since kindergarten, missy.

"I just think it would be good if you got a chance to talk, you know, alone." Willow looked up at him and smiled, looking all hopeful and friend-like.

Before Xander could reply, he heard a knock on the door behind him and Spike stepped inside, commenting dryly, "Everybody's ready? Now that's one for the record books."

Willow glanced at Xander, then said quickly, "Actually, Tara and I aren't going to patrol tonight. She's not feeling well, and I don't want to leave her on her own."

Spike just shrugged, saying, "Don't really need the whole parade, at any rate. Think the Bregnis have skipped town. Nobody's seen hide nor hair of them for days now, and they aren't generally the shy type."

Willow brightened, her guilt alleviated. "Oh! Well, that's good!" She glanced back and forth between Spike and Xander…and Xander wanted to cringe with embarrassment. Could she be any more obvious?

But Spike just looked at Xander and said, "Ready?"

Xander nodded numbly, and the next thing he knew they were on their way, Willow left behind to play doctor with Tara as much as she liked. As Xander turned to leave, Willow caught his eye and glanced meaningfully at Spike with a slight jerk of her head.

Sheesh. Bossy. Yes, I know I'm supposed to talk to Spike about all that stuff. Too much stuff, if you ask me, which you pretty much haven't. How am I supposed to cover everything at once? "Oh, Spike, hey, I don't just want to be friends, because I'm kind of maybe in love with you, and I know that might seem sudden, but it's not, because we also happen to have had sex repeatedly during the time loop and that's when I started feeling these feelings, which I never told you about because I was afraid you'd freak." Oh, yeah, I'm sure Spike would sweep me into his arms and declare his undead affection.

Xander looked around and realized that they'd been walking in the cemetery for a few minutes, and that he'd been lost in thought since they left the house.

Great way to start off the evening, Xanmeister. Ignore Spike completely. 'Cause that worked so well before the time loop. Yeah, great way to romance the guy.

So where should I start? Try to get with the romancing? Tell about the time loop? Subtly scope out what's going on in that bleach- blonde noggin'? Explain about the "just friends" thing from the other night?

Xander glanced at Spike, who was walking beside him, alert as always to everything around them. His coat billowed slightly behind him as he walked, and his profile was pale and sharp against the darkness. Xander cleared his throat. Here goes. He dove in without preamble. "You know, the other night, after the…the stuff…when I said you were my best friend…I didn't really mean that the way it sounded…"

Spike looked at him and smirked. "No worries, Harris. I know we're mates. A bit of fun on the side doesn't change anything."

Xander deflated slightly. "It doesn't?"

Spike didn't reply, just kept walking, glancing around for potential danger. Xander had just opened his mouth to say something – he hadn't yet decided exactly what that something would be, but it certainly would have been something suave and debonair, sort of Cary Grant-ish, something that would have made Spike immediately want to be more than mates-in-the-British-sense – but before he could voice this irresistible suavosity, Spike reached out a hand and stopped Xander with a touch to his chest. Okay, that could have been a good sign, except for the fact that Spike wasn't looking at him. Spike was instead looking into the shadows between two nearby crypts. And now that they'd stopped walking, Xander could hear a sort of snuffling, crunching noise coming from that general vicinity.

Great. Monster time. Why does evil always have such crappy timing?

After Spike had killed the demon – "What was that he was crunching over there? Wait. On second thought, the potential nightmares say I'm very okay with the not knowing." – they continued walking, leaving the carcass hidden in some bushes.

They didn't say anything for a while.

So he said the sex games don't change anything. Well, that's good, right? That means we're still friends and he doesn't think I'm using him or anything like that. And who says everything has to change overnight, just because there was naked touchy-feely-ness? Maybe friends is okay for now. A good place to start, right? I just need to do the romancing thing. About which of course I'm completely non-clue- having. It's not like the library has books on romancing vampires. At least, I don't think they do. But maybe I'm wrong…it is Sunnydale, after all. But when's the last time I visited a library for the purposes of librarying? Pretty much never. It's just not exactly a Xander-friendly environment, what with all the books and learning and stuff.

Wait. Why am I thinking about libraries? When has this ever been a Xander thought topic? It's just wrong on some basic, primordial level. The words "Xander" and "library" don't even belong in the same sentence. If it hadn't been for Giles and Buffy, I probably would never have stepped foot inside a library in my entire life. It was a source of pride, my successful learning-avoidance. So why do I have libraries on the brain?

Maybe I'm just not wanting to think about the stuff that's actually important. Like how to romance Spike. And how to tell him about the time loop sex without ruining everything. Because there's the whole problem with the non-clue-having.

But…well…maybe I can start out slow. Test the Spike waters.

"Hey, Spike, remember when I told you about the time loop?"

Spike looked over at him and raised an eyebrow, but looked forward again as he continued walking. "What brought this up?"

Okay. Not really an answer to the question, but the question was sort of on the rhetorical side anyway, so kind of not an issue. "I just…there's some stuff that happened during the time loop…stuff I haven't told you."

"Yeah?" Spike glanced over at him briefly, then looked away again, keeping an eye on the cemetery around them.

"Yeah. Like…um…we…on one of the loops…we…we had coffee with Willow." Cop out!

Spike glanced at him again. "So?"

"So…you don't feel betrayed or anything, right? I mean, that I didn't tell you earlier…about having coffee with Willow?"

Spike went back to looking around them as they continued walking. "Don't need to know about every bloody detail, Xander."

"But…but…this was stuff you and I were doing…together…and I remember it, but you don't…that doesn't feel weird to you?"

"Wasn't really me, now was it? Was some other Spike."

I never thought of it that way. So…I guess I don't really need to tell him, then. Because it sort of wasn't really him. And he's pretty much said that I don't need to tell him. So there's no reason to mess things up now, when he doesn't even care if I tell him or not. Yeah. Cool. That's settled, then. So why do I feel like Willow isn't going to understand guy logic on this one? But I'm an independent man of independent thought, making an independent decision based on independence. And okay maybe a tiny bit of fear. But mostly independence. I don't have to do something, just because Willow thinks I should. Okay, so she's usually right about stuff like this…but I can do what I want. Spike doesn't care, so this is fine.

Why does that all sound suspiciously like a pathetic attempt to convince myself?

No. Spike said he doesn't care. I should take him at his word, right? I mean, he wasn't talking specifically about sex during the time loop. But what applies to time-loop coffee drinking should also apply to time-loop sex having. Right? Right. So it's all good. It doesn't count as a secret anymore. And as a non-secret it becomes non- disclosure-requiring. No disclosure necessary. Nope. We have complete official alleviation of secret sex guilt.

So why do I still feel guilty?

"Xander?" A hand waved in front of Xander's face.

Xander jerked back, surprised, and looked at Spike. "What?"

Spike let his hand drop, but continued to watch him suspiciously. "You're acting off."

Xander shook his head. "Nope. Not off. I'm definitely on. I'm the On Guy. I'm the guy to call when onnage is required. I'm so on, you might even say I'm…"

Spike interrupted impatiently, "Well, then, let's get on with it, eh?"

Xander smiled at that. "Right. Get 'on' with it. Heh."

Spike winced, but started walking again. Xander caught up with him and they continued patrol with only minimal conversation. It wasn't a weird silence, though. It was pretty normal, just patrolling and keeping their eyes and ears aware to the night around them. It was just a pretty normal patrol.

A pretty normal Friday night patrol…ending up at the Sunnydale Majestic for their standing weekly movie date.

Not a date, though. Not really.


They took their usual seats near the back of the theater, right on the center aisle…prime real estate for vamp spotting and slaying. But once they were seated, Xander found himself fixated on how close Spike's knee was to touching his, how Spike's hand rested on his black- denimed thigh and was thus also close to Xander's blue-denimed thigh. There was chipped black polish on Spike's fingernails, and his hand was pale and slender.

This isn't a date. Spike isn't going to hold my hand and blow in my ear, even if we are sitting in the back of the theater like a couple of teenagers looking for somewhere to make out. We're just friends. Friends who've messed around a bit. And maybe more, if I can manage not to fuck it up. So…romancing somebody. You just…do nice things for them, right?

Xander sat silently, staring at the blank screen, supposedly waiting for the movie to start, but actually trying to work up the nerve to make some kind of move. He remained frozen in place during the "previews" – which were actually just old trailers for random cheesy horror movies – but as the main feature started up, he licked his lips nervously and shifted his weight.

"I'll be right back," he whispered, and then leapt out of his seat, striding up the center aisle and out to the lobby.

When he came back, he held a box of Snow Caps in one hand, a box of Red Hots in the other. As he fell into his seat again, he dropped the red box into Spike's lap.

In the flickering light from the screen, Spike peered at him through narrowed eyes.

Xander hoped his blush was hidden by the darkness of the theater, but he just said defensively, "What? I thought you liked Red Hots."

"Yeah. But you bought 'em for me." Spike was, as usual, using his normal voice instead of whispering. The guy two rows ahead of them turned around and shushed loudly.

Xander whispered, "So? You never complain when I buy you beers at The Bronze."

"Blokes buy each other beers, Xander. Blokes don't generally buy each other candy."

The guy in front of them shushed even louder this time. Xander slouched, feeling wrongly accused, as usual. It wasn't his fault Spike had bad movie manners!

"Jeez, Spike. It's not a bottle of Chanel No. 5, okay? It's just a box of Red Hots. No big. If you don't want it, give it here. I'll eat them."

Spike hesitated a moment, then said cautiously, "You don't like Red Hots."

Spike knows what kind of candy I like! That's definitely a good sign. I mean, okay, so he's giving me shit about the whole candy thing, but his knowing what I like must mean something. But aloud he only said, "Well, then, Mister Difficult, I guess you'll just have to eat them yourself, won't you?"

Spike was quiet a moment, eyeing Xander suspiciously, but eventually he turned to watch the screen again. His voice was actually reasonably quiet when he said, "Fine. Just watch the film, and keep an eye on that fledge in front of us."

"What? Fledge? That guy's a vampire? The shushing guy? You can tell from back here?"

Spike gave him a funny look. "Yeah, the fangs and yellow eyes were a bit of a clue."

Oh. Guess I was kind of distracted. "He's sitting there watching a movie in game-face? What kind of idiot does that?"

"One that isn't gonna survive long."

"So…should we go and…"

"Nah." Spike shrugged and settled comfortably, stretching his legs out to the side and propping his feet on the row in front of them a few seats to the right, crossing one boot over the other. He opened the box of Red Hots and popped a few in his mouth, keeping his eyes on the werewolf transformation happening on the theater's large screen. "Might as well let him watch the flick first."

Despite his certainty that Spike wouldn't actually hold his hand, Xander found himself keeping his hand accessible, resting either on his knee or on the arm rest, where Spike could easily brush against him if he so chose.

He didn't chose, of course. There was no chosing. Xander was not, after all, the chosen one.

There was some accidental brushing, though, and every glancing touch sent a jolt through Xander. He was hyper-aware of Spike's every movement in the dark.

But Spike seemed completely oblivious, calmly watching the film without a glance in Xander's direction.

Spike's a smart guy. He must notice that something's up. Um…not that kind of "up," not at the moment, anyway. I mean, he must notice that I'm interested. Maybe he just isn't into the public displays of affection thing. Maybe he's just being discreet. Sunnydale doesn't exactly have its own gay pride parade.

A little part of his mind whispered, Spike? Discreet? In what universe? But he chose to ignore it. Because discretion was the only explanation he'd come up with that made any sense. Except the obvious.

Which was that Spike had no interest in him whatsoever.

Except the obvious.


When they left the theater after dusting two fledges – including Shush Guy – Spike put his hands in the pockets of his duster and they walked toward Xander's car. It was unclear how the evening was going to end. Xander kind of hoped that Spike wanted to spend more time with him, but there hadn't been any actual discussion on the subject.

But when conversation started, it wasn't quite what he'd been expecting or hoping for. Out of nowhere, Spike said, "Don't need you buying me bloody Red Hots, Xander."

Xander blinked. "Uh…why? I just thought you might…"

But Spike interrupted him, turning to face him with a scowl. "Look. Don't need sweet talk to get my knickers off. I'm not your bloody prom date and I'm not lookin' to cuddle in front of the fire, listenin' to Barry Manilow. Let's skip the pretense."

"It's not pretense…"

"You White Hats probably think it's all gotta be sweet and romantic, yeah? Well, sod that. You aren't half bad at sucking cock. Seem to like it, too. So we both get off, yeah? Don't need the romantic trappings."

"But don't you…don't you ever sort of…want the 'romantic trappings'?"

Spike sighed and turned to face him squarely. "Xander, if you want a girlfriend, find yourself a bloody girl. If you want to fuck, then let's go."

Xander stared at him. "Just like that?"

Spike stared back. "Just like that."

Xander hesitated. It sounded so cold, so impersonal.

But it isn't impersonal, not really, because Spike is still my friend…we still know each other pretty darn well. So it isn't impersonal, exactly…it just isn't romantic. It's not a love thing. Yet. But can I really do that? Have sex with Spike, even if it's only sex? Do I even want to do that? Because that would just be asking to get hurt, right? How big a fool would I have to be to do that? Okay, yeah, I'm a plenty big enough fool. But can I really turn this down? I want it. And maybe it might turn into something more. Eventually. Maybe. Can I really walk away from that?

Xander didn't realize how long he'd been lost in thought until Spike's voice interrupted to say dryly, "Let me know when you figure it out, eh, Harris?" And then he walked away, leaving Xander standing at the driver's side door of his car, still confused.

The metal of the door handle was cold against his hand. He stood there and held it a moment, still watching the place where Spike had vanished into the dark. But even he wasn't stupid enough to stand around in Sunnydale in the middle of the night. He opened the door and got into the car, then drove home in a sort of fog and fell into bed still fully dressed, minus only the shoes.

It took him a long time to fall asleep.

7 Self-Defense

Now that the Bregni scare was over, everything was back to normal. And that meant Xander had Saturday night off. Spike and Xander patrolled on Friday night, Willow and Tara patrolled – with the Bot, of course – on Saturday night. Everybody had a weekend night free.

Not that Xander was doing much with his free weekend night. He wasn't really in the mood to go out. He spent the day re-reading his entire X-Men comic collection, just kicking back on the couch with a dwindling "unread" pile to his right and a growing "read" pile to his left. It was his traditional way to deal with feeling overwhelmed. Escapism.

Friday night had left him more than a little confused. It sounded like Spike was definitely interested in the sex – that meant he must be attracted to Xander, at least a little bit – but he didn't want anything romantic.

Maybe he just thinks I was being polite or something, that I don't actually want more. Like during the time loop. He said nobody's ever loved him, not even Dru…so maybe he doesn't think anybody can. Or that anybody will.

Or maybe he's just being all Control Freak guy, trying to stop me from going to that stupid domination club, even though I mostly wasn't planning on going anyway.

Or maybe he's not into guys, and he's only doing this because I'm convenient, throwing myself at him like some kind of desperate horn- dog. So he gets to have sex without all the complications. Except I kind of want the complications. But he doesn't. Want them, that is. He was pretty clear on that score.

The question is Why? Why doesn't he want complications? And why do I sound like such a girl all of a sudden? Maybe I should spend my evening watching football and guzzling beer and belching, instead of sitting around contemplating why my vampire lover doesn't want snuggles.

The simple truth is that Spike apparently wants to have sex with me. And I have to decide if that's enough. I mean, even if it doesn't go anywhere, because I don't know if it could or would or might or definitely won't. So if it really is just sex…can I do that? Do I want to do that?

Okay. Duh. Sex with Spike? And I'm thinking about this so long why? Even if it's just sex. Dude…it's sex with Spike. So maybe he just wants my bod. Spike wants my bod. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Heh. A year ago, I would have thought there was a world of wrong with that. But now…now's different. Now, the phrase "sex with Spike" makes me say, "Yes? Please? Now?"

I just wish I knew what was going on in his head. I wish I knew why.

In comparison, the X-Men were blissfully uncomplicated. Xander read until he was so tired and it was so late that he staggered off to go to bed leaving piles of comic books in his wake.

He woke up the next morning to a ringing phone and Willow's voice telling him to come over for a research party that night. Apparently, there'd been another run-in with a bone-cruncher. Goody.

He had the rest of the day to angst about what to say to Spike when he saw him again.

He didn't come up with any answers.

It all ended up being moot, anyway, because he didn't get any time alone with Spike. Everybody was ranged around the living room, searching through Giles' old books, trying to find out about these bone-crunching demons, and Spike never walked away from the group. Xander wandered into the kitchen a couple of times, trying to give Spike an opportunity to follow him, but he ended up just standing around the kitchen by himself like a moron.

Unfortunately, the third time he went to the kitchen, Willow followed him. Not really what he'd been hoping for.

"Did you tell him?" she whispered, glancing back toward the living room.

Xander fiddled with the orange soda he'd just taken out of the fridge. "Not really. But I tried. He said he didn't want to know." Okay, so that isn't exactly what Spike said, but close enough.

Willow frowned. "How could he say he didn't want to know, when he didn't know what it was he didn't know?"

"Trust me. It's all cool." That's right. Say it with a tone of authority and it must be true.

Willow looked like she was about to say something more, but Xander gripped his orange soda and made a speedy escape, smiling apologetically.

When it started getting late and they still hadn't learned anything useful about these particular bone-crunching demons – though they had learned that demons in general just seemed pretty much down with the bone-crunching thing, like it was a common hobby or something – eventually Xander started making noises of the "I should probably be getting home" variety.

Any hopes he'd had that Spike might see him home were dashed when Spike pretty much ignored him when he got up to leave.

Idiot me, I was so happy the first time he decided I was man enough to go home without a bodyguard. Like he'd finally stopped seeing me as some pathetic kid. Like throwing a couple knives around made me an equal with him or something. I never really thought about how nice it was, always having him make sure I got home safe. Yeah, I'm still pathetic.

He left to a chorus of "See you tomorrow"s. The next day was New Year's Eve, and they'd all made plans far in advance to spend the evening together, just as they had with Christmas.

Maybe tomorrow night he'd have better luck with getting Spike alone.

He arrived at the girls' house around 8. He'd been tempted to show up just before dark – so that he could have maximum potential Spike timeage – but he didn't want to look too desperate. And he still wasn't sure exactly what he wanted to say. Plus, if he showed up early and Spike didn't, then he'd be submitted to more Willow grilling. It was safer to show up when he knew everyone would already be there.

He knocked on the door and stepped inside, calling out, "I come bearing booze with which to ply unsuspecting womenfolk and vampires!" as he waved two bottles of cheap champagne.

Willow and Tara were in the kitchen, putting various munchies into bowls and onto plates. They both smiled and said hello when they saw him come in to put the bubbly in the fridge. Hearing voices coming from the open back door, he walked over and rested one hand on the doorframe.

Spike and Dawn were sitting on the back stairs, and Dawn was saying, "So now he's going out with Summer Thompson, who is a total slut-o- rama. She is to 'slutty' what Michael Jackson is to 'freaky', you know? And he's all totally lying about it. He's like, 'We're just friends.' Shyeah right."

Xander interjected, "Wait, have I been missing out on the crucial 'girl talk' portion of the evening's festivities?" Both Spike and Dawn turned to look up at him. Dawn grinned. Spike just watched him with an annoyingly calm expression.

We've got this whole sex thing out there, totally unresolved, and he can't even manage to look a little uncomfortable? He's got that unflappable thing going, and I want to see some flap. I'm flapping all over the place, and I don't like to flap alone.

Dawn explained, "We were just taking a break. Spike was showing me some self-defense stuff so I can go patrolling."

"Not ready yet, though. Don't want you getting hurt."

Dawn rolled her eyes and said, "Can you spell 'overprotective', boys and girls? I knew you could."

Xander shook his head. "Come on, now, Dawn. How many fifteen-year- olds are lucky enough to have their own personal guard-vamp? Ya gotta see the up side, here."

"Oh, right, like I want somebody telling me what to do all the time. Most kids at school only have one parent. Lucky me, I've got like four."

"Yeah, but we're cooler than all the other parents."

"If you guys were really cool, you'd let me come on patrol."

"Ooooh! Good try!" Xander grinned.

Dawn huffed and crossed her arms.

Spike stood up and leaned against the railing. "Want to help with the training?" He was looking at Xander.

"Me? Sure. What do you want me to do?"

Spike gestured at the grass of the back yard. "Go out and rush at her. I'd do it, but if I make a mistake and hurt her, I'd get a hell of a migraine."

"Rush at her?" Xander glanced uncertainly at Dawn, who was rising to her feet and walking toward the middle of the lawn.

"I can take it. Spike's teaching me how to use somebody's weight to throw them."

Xander raised his eyebrows. "You think you can throw me?"

Dawn bounced slightly on the balls of her feet, smiling. "I'll give it a try."

Xander shrugged and sort of half-heartedly rushed her, not wanting to accidentally knock her down. But the next thing he knew, he was the one on the ground with the wind knocked out of him, staring up at the night sky.

"I rock!" Dawn crowed, leaping up and down with her arms raised triumphantly in the air. "I rule!"

But Spike sounded firm, insisting, "Just because you can toss a slow-moving human who doesn't want to hurt you doesn't mean you're reading to face demons."



Dawn grinned and did a happy little dance. Xander could see it out of the corner of his eye as he lay there savoring the bitter taste of humiliation. Dawn had smacked him down. "What've you been teaching her?" he asked ruefully, still not moving.

"Just some aikido." Spike's face appeared above him and a hand was extended to help him up. Xander reached up to take Spike's hand, and the touch sent a jolt of excitement through him. He saw Spike's eyes narrow slightly, and then he was pulled to his feet.

As they walked into the house, Xander found himself watching the back of Spike's head, the set of his shoulders, the pale skin of his neck. Spike and Dawn were talking about something, chuckling and nudging each other, but Xander didn't really hear anything they were saying. All he could think was, Spike wants to have sex with me. And I'm hesitating why?

The evening passed in a sort of Dick-Clark-narrated blur. When the ball dropped in Times Square and firecrackers went off somewhere outside, Willow and Tara kissed. Xander glanced nervously at Spike, who wasn't looking at him. Instead, he was watching Dawn, who rushed toward him and kissed him on the cheek, smiling. Then she kissed Xander on the cheek, as well. "Everybody should get kissed at midnight," she insisted seriously.

Xander sneaked another peek in Spike's direction, but Spike still wasn't looking at him.

It's not like he's going to bend me over and give me major tongue action in front of everybody, but still…everybody should get kissed at midnight.

When the kissing – real and imagined – was done, Willow insisted that they all raise their glasses and make a toast. "To a new year, and to good friends," she said, smiling, and everyone touched their glasses together. Even Spike made no objection to the sentimentality of the proceedings. He just clinked his glasses with everyone else's and took a sip of champagne.

And then, after his sip, Spike looked up and met Xander's eyes.

He wants this. I want this. I don't care why. I don't care if I might get hurt. I want this. Yes.

Spike held his gaze for a long moment, but looked away when Tara said something to him. He smiled slightly, and Xander watched how his lips curved.

After a few minutes of feeling almost paralyzed with nerves, Xander cleared his throat and said, "I should get going."

The girls looked disappointed, but hugged him goodbye with many more "Happy new year"s.

Spike stood and said, "I'll be heading off, as well." Willow glanced back and forth between the two men, then gave Xander a questioning glance. He gave a tiny shrug of non-knowingness.

They walked out the door together and toward Xander's car, getting a respectable distance from the house and the girls, before Spike asked, "You planning on going to the club?"

Club? Oh…right. The postcard. And the New Year's Eve party. And the club. The postcard that started this whole thing.

Xander focused on getting his key into the driver's side door lock, not looking up, and said in what he hoped was a casual voice, "Not really."

Spike leaned one hip against the fender, his arms crossed across his chest. "Got it out of your system, did you?"

As Xander opened the car door, he looked over at Spike. Xander swallowed. Time to end the poultry impression he'd been doing. "Not exactly. I just…you said…I thought…" Xander licked his lips nervously, and Spike's eyes followed the movement. It gave him the last bit of courage to say, "I thought maybe we could just go to my place, instead."

He didn't look away. Spike tilted his head slightly, as if he were studying Xander, and then he nodded. "All right, then."

Best New Years ever.

8 Magnets

On New Year's Day, Xander didn't wake up until early afternoon.

Spike was gone.

It wasn't all that surprising, really, that Spike hadn't wanted to stick around. This thing they were doing…it wasn't about curling up in bed together and waking up to morning-breath kisses. It was about sex, and that was all.

Not that Xander was complaining, exactly. It was just going to take some getting used to.

Spike, on the other hand, seemed completely relaxed about the whole thing. When they'd gotten to the apartment last night, Spike had just strolled to the kitchen to get a beer out of the fridge, as he always did when he came over.

The bright fluorescent light in the kitchen gave Spike's skin a slight blue tinge, but somehow it didn't make him any less gorgeous. He saw something held on the fridge by a magnet, and he took it down and looked at it. It was the infamous postcard. Xander had kept it because it reminded him of Spike, but now he wondered what Spike was thinking as he looked at it.

Still holding the postcard, Spike walked over to lean against the counter, tilting the beer bottle up to take a swig. His throat moved as he swallowed, and Xander couldn't help but watch, hypnotized. Spike lowered the bottle and set it on the counter, eyeing Xander speculatively.

He held up the postcard, not looking at it, holding Xander's gaze. His voice was pure sex when he drawled, "So…what did you think about, looking at this?" He paused, glancing at the photo on the card, then back at Xander. "You like the dog collar? Want to be somebody's good little puppy?" He smirked, not giving Xander a chance to reply before he continued, "Or did you want more…maybe think about getting yourself tied up, spread open, gagged and helpless? Or maybe you were looking for a daddy to spank your naughty bottom all pretty pink, make you beg daddy's forgiveness?" Xander was shaking his head now, but Spike didn't stop. "Or was it more than just spanking you were after? Like a bit of pain, do you? Get all hot and bothered by whips and chains?"

"No! None of that stuff!" Spike just arched an eyebrow. And, after a moment of feeling his face heat, Xander amended reluctantly, "Okay, I've tried some of that stuff, because – hello…Anya – but not the…the freaky daddy stuff, and serious pain doesn't do it for me, and…look, I'm not looking for a wonderland of kink. That wasn't what I wanted. I just…" He broke off, suddenly afraid, wondering how honest Spike wanted him to be. How honest he wanted himself to be. He took a breath and looked at Spike, willing him to understand through some kind of osmosis or mind meld or something.

Spike tilted his head slightly and pushed off from the counter with a graceful roll of muscles. He stepped forward, smiling. "Just looking to get bossed around a bit, eh?"

Xander felt somehow disappointed, as if an opportunity had just passed him by. He looked away and said quietly, "Yeah. Pretty much." Coward. But he doesn't want to know. It's only sex.

Spike stepped a bit closer. "Nothing to be ashamed of."

Damn it. I'm going to be honest about this, at least. Because even if it's just sex, it's okay for him to know. And I want him to know. Because I want this to be real.

It took a huge effort, but he looked Spike straight in the eye as he said, "When I looked at that card…I didn't just think about…you know, the domination stuff…I mean…I thought about that stuff…but…I thought about that stuff…with" – Xander gulped and closed his eyes – "I thought about that stuff with you." He kept his eyes closed, not wanting to see Spike's reaction. What if this ruined everything? What if Spike thought he was some kind of weirdo stalker guy, all obsessed with him? He licked his lips nervously and opened his eyes.

Spike was watching him with an unfamiliar expression, something flickering between what looked like surprise, confusion, suspicion, arrogance, and plain old lust. The lust was clear enough to make Xander shiver. He wondered what he would have seen if he'd opened his eyes sooner.

At least Spike didn't look angry, or even uncomfortable, really. Instead his expression was moving rapidly into smug. Like he was having fun with this. And that was a hell of a lot better than a lot of the other reactions he might have had.

Spike's voice was low and smooth when he said, "So…you were wanking to thoughts of yours truly? Interesting. What did we do in these 'thoughts' of yours?"

Crap. Why did I think this was a good idea? Spike's the king of the put-down. Anything I say is just giving him ammunition. So Xander went for vagueness, one of his favorite avoidance tactics. "Um…lots of stuff."

"'Lots of stuff', eh? Well, we'll definitely be doing 'lots of stuff'. I've got plans for you."

Xander gulped. "Plans?"

Spike nodded slowly, with just the barest hint of a curve to his lips. "Mm hmm. Plans."

What kind of plans would William the Bloody come up with? The mind boggled. And not in a good way. "W-what sort of plans?"

"Oh, nothing you won't like." Spike lifted up the postcard and looked at it again. "So you were looking at this little piccy of a bloke in a dog collar, and wanting me to be your master? Get you on your knees? Tell you what to do? Teach you how to get me off?" Spike looked up, meeting Xander's gaze expectantly.

Xander just watched him, trying to read Spike's expression. He couldn't even seem to make himself nod. Even though they were both still fully dressed, he felt suddenly naked and exposed.

Apparently not bothered by the lack of reply, Spike just smirked. "I can do that." He seemed so relaxed about the whole thing…like he did this every day.

"So…the guy-guy thing doesn't bother you? I mean, I wasn't sure if you…"

Spike just shrugged. "Would've thought it'd be you running from that one." He put the postcard on the table and stepped forward again, hemming Xander in until his back was pressed against the refrigerator, alphabet magnets pressing into his spine. Then Spike reached one hand down and cupped Xander's…special equipment. Xander's breath caught, not out of fear, but because it was Spike's hand on him…finally. Spike smiled, gently squeezing. "But you're just full of surprises, now aren't you?"

Xander tried to remember to breathe, but his voice still sounded a bit hoarse when he said, "That's me. Surprise Guy."

Spike stepped back slightly, his hand pulling away to fall by his side. "Shirt off."

No. I liked the hand. The hand was good. More hand, please. "Um. What?"

"Shirt off. Need to inspect the merchandise."

Xander blushed. "But…you already…the other night…when I…I took off my clothes…"

Spike shook his head impatiently. "Up close and personal like." He tilted his head to the side and waited.

Feeling self-conscious, Xander untucked his t-shirt and pulled it over his head. He was so close to the fridge, the sweep of fabric sent magnets skittering onto the floor. Unsure what to do with the shirt, he dropped it on the white linoleum. He sort of hoped he'd be needing his hands for whatever Spike had in mind.

Spike pulled back a bit further and looked Xander up and down, his eyes roaming over bare skin.

"Hey…want to go into the living room? Or…uh…the bedroom? 'Cause fluorescent lights don't really do good things for skin tone. I keep telling the landlord that I could pull this out and put in something that uses incandescents, but he says his insurance doesn't…"

"Xander, do I look like I care about the sodding lamp?"

"Um. No?"

"Right. No. So shut up."

Okay, now, that was just rude. "Shut up?"

"Yeah. Shut up. You wanted me to tell you what to do…well, I'm telling you to shut up. Want to enjoy my new toy without the soundtrack."

Spike stepped close again and put his hands on Xander's shoulders. Not holding…just brushing lightly against the skin. He slowly moved his palms down, stroking Xander's upper arms, then squeezed each bicep as if testing the resilience of the muscles. His lips curved just a tiny bit upward, barely enough to be called a smile. Xander felt like he'd just passed some kind of test.

"On second thought, if you want to talk so much, then talk. But not about that rubbish." Spike's hands had somehow found their way to Xander's chest. He lightly pinched Xander's nipples, making Xander gasp. "You like that?" Xander jerked his head in something approximating a nod. "Then say so."

Xander repeated nervously, "Um…I like that."

Spike rolled his eyes and stepped away. "Is that supposed to get me hot?"

Okay, so much for passing the test. It made him defensive. "Well, I'm sorry. I'm just not really good at the whole talking dirty thing."

Spike crossed his arms across his chest. "Gonna have to learn, then. Convince me. Or I can leave. That what you want?" He started to turn away.


Spike turned back and faced him squarely. "Then get talking."

Xander stood, bare-chested and clueless, while Spike watched him expectantly. What does he expect me to say, when we aren't even touching anymore? "Are you…are you going to touch me?"

"Depends. You going to make me want to?"

Xander started to reach out his hands, but Spike took another step away. "Words. I want to hear you say you want me, want my hands on you, want my cock in you. Say it."

I was okay with the stripping. And the…the one hand clapping…and the blow job. But this makes me feel like an idiot. I'm going to sound like a complete moron, and in front of Spike. But…it's what he wants…and it's not like I'd be lying. So I guess he's sort of saying that if I want to do this, then I have to tell the truth. And maybe I haven't been so good on that score lately.

Xander took a deep breath and then looked at Spike. "I…I do." He cleared his throat. "I liked it when you were touching me. It felt – god! – it felt amazing!"

Spike smiled slightly. "Good boy!" He came closer, crowding Xander against the now-magnetless refrigerator again, and ran a finger along Xander's throat. "Keep going."

"When you…uh…touched my nipples" – Spike moved his hands to Xander's chest again, pinching lightly, making Xander struggle to hold still – "Oh fuck!"

"Not quite yet," Spike replied as his hands traced along Xander's stomach, moving slowly downward.

Trying not to hyperventilate, Xander panted, "Oh god…please…"

Spike leaned forward to whisper in Xander's ear, "I'm the one giving the orders." He pulled back and let his eyes fall to roam Xander's bared chest and stomach. "But since you said 'please'…" He skimmed one hand past Xander's waistband, down to cup his balls again through the denim. Xander closed his eyes and blindly reached back, holding onto the sides of the refrigerator for balance.

"Please please please please please," he breathed, trying to hold still, not wanting to give Spike any reason to stop what he was doing. And apparently he was succeeding, because Spike was unbuttoning and then unzipping his pants, slipping one hand inside to gently squeeze the hardness there. Xander froze, swallowing convulsively.

"Open your eyes," Spike said. "Look at me."

Xander opened his eyes. Spike's pupils were dilated, making his eyes far darker than usual, and his chest was moving with breaths he probably didn't even realize he was taking.

Spike looked seriously turned on. That alone was enough to make Xander's cock throb.

"Oh god…I think I'm going to come…"

Spike's hand pulled away, making Xander almost want to cry. But then Spike was pushing Xander's jeans and boxers down, then taking a firm hold on Xander's dick again and stroking slowly.

Xander squeezed his eyes shut so tight that he saw sparks.

"Hey. Eyes open," Spike said impatiently.

Xander opened his eyes again. Spike looked controlled, but something about the eyes seemed to say that it was a struggle. Like Xander was getting to him somehow. Probably the power trip.

"You want to come?" Spike asked tightly, still stroking Xander's dick. It was a bit painful without any lube – he'd be sore tomorrow – but there was no way he was going to stop to go in search of petroleum products right now.

So Xander just nodded, hips bucking slightly forward. "Yes…please…" He knew he sounded desperate, but he couldn't bring himself to care.

"You don't come until I come. So what're you going to do for me?"

Xander stilled for a moment, unsure what Spike wanted, but emboldened by that barely restrained wild look in Spike's eyes, he grabbed Spike and reversed their positions. He nearly fell on his ass, stumbling over the jeans around his feet, but he managed the move without completely humiliating himself. Kneeling on the cold linoleum, he unfastened Spike's jeans quickly – no leisurely teasing this time – and swallowed Spike's cock with his own soft moan of pleasure.

Spike's hips jerked, and his hands came down to twine into Xander's hair, his eyes intense as he stared at Xander's mouth working on him. Xander kept his eyes trained upward, watching Spike's face, and it was a surprisingly short period of time before Spike was arching and cursing and Xander was swallowing come.

Afterward, Spike leaned heavily against the refrigerator with his eyes still closed, chest rising and falling, hands still tangled in Xander's hair. Xander knelt at his feet with a cock so hard it pressed against his belly, pre-come leaking steadily.

He waited, not sure whether Spike wanted him to stand up or not.

"Good boy," Spike panted, eyes still closed. When he finally looked down at Xander, his face was smooth and relaxed, his smile genuine. "Get up here."

Xander stood so quickly that he almost tripped over the jeans bunched up around his feet. Spike caught him, though, holding him steady until he got his balance again. And then Spike's hand was reaching down, taking hold of him again, squeezing and stroking with a bit of slick help from pre-come, and Xander raised his hands to brace himself against the refrigerator on either side of Spike's body.

"Do you still…want me to…talk?" he gasped, watching Spike's face, trying not to close his eyes despite the pleasure rocketing through him.

"Mmmm," Spike replied not very informatively, still smiling slightly. He squeezed a bit tighter and Xander gripped the sides of the refrigerator door, leaning close, suddenly aware of his height advantage and size. Spike seemed so small, trapped between Xander and the fridge, his eyes looking up to meet Xander's gaze as he began to speed up his hand.

"I don't know if I can," Xander admitted breathlessly, feeling his orgasm growing. "It's so…it's so…oh god!" He cried out, coming all over them both, Spike's hand pumping until it was done. Xander sagged weakly, hands still braced against the fridge, Spike trapped beneath him.

He'd barely caught his breath when Spike pushed at his shoulders, easily moving him away, and yet giving him time to shuffle his feet along, trapped in denim. Spike stepped aside, refastening his own jeans quickly and easily. Xander contemplated which was worse: looking ridiculous with pants around his feet or looking ridiculous trying to pull his pants up. He decided to just stand there, letting it all hang out. Spike had seen it all before, anyway.

"All right then," Spike said cheerfully. "I'll be on my way." And a moment later, Xander was standing alone in his apartment, pantsless, heart still pounding from an incredible orgasm.

It wasn't until he was in bed, almost asleep, that he realized Spike still hadn't kissed him. All that time, pressed up against the fridge, their faces so close together, and no kissing.

So it wasn't any surprise when he woke up alone. This wasn't romance.

He tried to keep reminding himself of that fact.

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