Chocolatey Goodness


by
Mad Poetess



5 Sunday Funnies

Spike was dreaming: he was lying in the satin-sheeted bed of some hunt-set country squire whose estate they had "liberated" the night before, sandwiched snugly between Angelus and Drusilla. Warm, practically roasting under two goosedown duvets, as a fire hissed and popped on the grey marble hearth at the end of the room. Broad back in front of him, and dark brown hair spread over it, escaping from its velvet tie. Soft body pressed up against his own back, and Drusilla's wicked little teeth nipping sharply at his earlobe.

"William," she hissed into his ear, sweet as dark Tuscany wine, but she never called him William, not if she could help it. Nor Will, nor anything else that acknowledged his life before it became her property and that of the great, softly snoring Irish lump whose back his head was pillowed against. Doesn't need to breathe, why does he bloody need to snore? No, from Dru it was all "sweet boy," "precious poison," "little dark one." It wasn't until he became Spike that she was willing to call him by a real name, and then only because it held nothing of what he had been, only what he had become. He wasn't Spike yet, now, but still he was, knew it to be his name as the other one was whispered in his ear.

"William, he's leaving us," she breathed, somewhere between a whine and a caress, her chilly hand running down his bare shoulder. No, what? No. He placed his own hand on that wide, cool back before him, solid as marble. There. Under his touch. Not gone. But their sweet mad princess saw things in her head, things that somehow came about, and as he stared, willing everything to remain as it was, it all fell apart. Angelus crumbled to nothing under his hand. The grave-dust blew across the covers, though there was no air moving, not a breath, and it disappeared into the darkness that encroached from every shadowed corner of the room. In the distance, familiar bootheels rang on the stone floors, moving away, fading, dying.

Nothing under his hands, and the bed was cold on the empty side. Hungry lips brushed the back of his neck. Thin arms, frail and steely at once, drew him round to look at her. "Just us, now, blue-eyed boy. Orphans. You'll have to be my Daddy now." Soft, deceptively helpless. "Will you take care of me?" Her hair was all mussed, curls tangled like cobwebs in her face. Little girl. His own little girl, for all she was older, darker, more lost. Angelus' little girl, with his same dark hair and eyes, both of them always pulling at you, sucking more out of you than you had left to give.

"Always, precious, always..." he answered, his hands in the sweet snarls of her hair, one cold leg wrapped around hers, trying to keep warm. The fire in the grate was dying. She shook her head, tossed it wildly, catching her hair on his fingers.

"No. Don't say always, no!" and she was sobbing, though no tear, either of salt or blood, marred her white face in the flickering half-light. She scratched at his chest with her sharp little nails, scoring him with lines of fire that faded all too quickly. "Nothing's ever for always, not for me, not for you. All the stars burn out when the sun comes up." She was calm again, quiet and cold and small. "There's only darkness for us, and dirt, and what lives in it. It's cold in here, Spike." But he wasn't Spike, not yet, was he?

He ran his hands down her slender body, tried to wrap himself around her. So thin always, and always cold. She was unmoving in his arms, and shrinking, somehow. Smaller, thinner, until he could have broken her bird-bones with a whisper, and she wouldn't look at him. At the last, as she faded to a sliver of frozen air, she turned away. "Everyone leaves, Will." But she never called him Will, and his arms were empty.

His lovers were gone, but somehow there was warmth. He almost rose to prod the dying fire, but the unexpected heat was close at hand. Dark hair on the pillow beside him, dark eyes wide with questions. Always dark hair, dark eyes, for him. For Angelus, it had been golden hair, the lost glow of the sun. Darla, Penn, the unnamed, unborn Slayer. An exception or two had been made... dark Dru in a strange passion for a mirror of himself, charmed by the twisted sweetness that lived in her muddled head, by how easy she had been to shatter, and how beautifully the fragments had combined. And William... who'd ever know what they had chosen him for? Perhaps for the way Spike's hair would shine when he ripped the dullness from it, burning away every trace of anything that had ever resembled the absent presence of Angelus. Maybe Dru had seen it all, and whispered it to their sire.

The boy who lay next to him was blood-warm. Warmer than Spike had ever managed to make the two lost, cold bodies that had slipped away from him, no matter the helpless desperation of his love for them, the gritty heat of his resentment. These brown eyes held nothing in them of madness and death, only the guilts and sorrows of a human life. The face that framed them had seen the sun, recently enough that the blood that moved beneath its planes, around the cords of the bared throat, pulsed as if it still carried that brightness through the veins. Not for us, never for us, Dru's voice echoed as he reached to touch the hollow of one temple, where shadows pooled. It burned his fingers when he touched that skin, and when the boy smiled, it hurt Spike's eyes.

Not for you, whispered the Angelus who had abandoned them, the Angel who had reappeared in that familiar body. Never for you, laughed Darla, who had never been kind, and Drusilla crooned a wordless counterpoint. The voices of the lost and gone filled the room. Not for me, the phantom of his darker-haired life repeated quietly, and Spike had got a bellyful of it.

"Fuck off, you," he snarled to the empty room, but it wasn't loud enough to drown them out, and as he took the sun-browned hand that reached for him, the fire in the grate went out, and he was alone.

 

*****

 

And he woke, alone in a cool bed that smelled of artificial spring, and peanut butter.

What could we possibly add to that little vignette to decrease the subtlety? he grumbled to himself as he blinked his way back to consciousness. Perhaps if we actually invited old Sigmund in for a guest appearance, doing a play-by-play and sucking on a bloody great cigar?

Dim light filtered into Spike's opening eyes. Ah, the Harris basement, scene of torture, torment, teenage angst, galloping mildew, too much chocolate, and the best shag he'd had in recent memory. ("Recent" being a relative term for somebody with access to over a century's worth of comparison...) From a wise-arsed, immature, completely inexperienced human male who was now conspicuously absent from the scene of the crime. Who had a habit of making Spike want to laugh even when he was annoying the unliving shit out of the vampire, even when he…wasn't here.

And we have a winner, ladies and gentlemen, in the 'who leaves the bed while the other bloke's sleeping, and buggers off into the sunset' race. Or rather, into the sunrise. Hell, what time is it anyway? He glanced down at his stolen black digital watch, which had far too many buttons for his liking. It happened to be the only thing he was wearing, and he didn't want to dwell on what sort of fashion statement that made. Suburban vampire chic. Seven thirty in the morning. He should be just getting to sleep after a night of fun and pillage on the Hellmouth, not yawning his way into half-awakeness in somebody else's bed. Or even his own bed, assuming he had one.

He sat up against the sofa-back slowly, the joints in his spine popping as he straightened. Old vampires never die, they just take to shagging humans and get rheumatoid arthritis from broken-down sofa beds. Never mind that at less than two centuries, he was hardly an old vampire. Moments like this, when the full weight of his own idiocy pressed down on his bones, he felt every one of those years as if it were an eternity of listening to Angel gas on about goodness and redemption. Human, Spike. You fucked a human, and not a pretty little necromancer or a well-hung sociopath, but an innocent. Without even killing him afterwards, or possibly before, like any self-respecting vampire would. He didn't count Angel in that category, of course. And you've no effin' intention of killing him either, have you? 'Cos the world's a better place with him in it. Wanker. Idiot. Moron. Pillock.

He banged his fist up and back into the upholstery. Not bad. Something to hit, even if it didn't make the requisite oof-ing sounds to really get his pistons going. Still punching the sofa absently, he thought back and corrected himself. Well, technically you didn't fuck a human, you allowed yourself to be fucked by a human, which is such an improvement. Allowed the hell out of it…invited it, practically begged for it, got what you asked for, and had the time of your death.

Right, so... wanted him, had him, or rather, was had by him, which had always been a matter of mood with Spike anyway. Itch scratched? Pondering... What the hell sort of pondering does it take, ninny? You had a good shag, blew off some steam, and....would jump him this minute if he set foot in the room. Except that might scare the boy, and for some reason you give a damn. Bugger. In the philosophical sense.

Spike groaned. Shit like this only happened to him. Did your average vamp-on-the-street develop a lech for one of the Slayer's best friends? Hell, no. Unless it involved draining and/or turning him/her/it. Did Dru take a lover besides him and then care what the bloke thought in the morning? Not if the past was anything to go by. You shagged another vampire, or various and sundry physically compatible creatures of the night, and come sundown, you rolled out of bed, had a smoke, tipped your metaphorical hat and sodded off. If the sex hadn't been all that good, or you'd been planning on doing it anyway, maybe you offed the bugger for afters.

The only reason that pea-brained party-girl Harmony didn't understand the concept was, aside from her inherent stupidity, that she was essentially about four months old when he'd taken up with her. Hmph. Who's robbing the cradle now, eh? I'm gaining on you, Angel. An infant vamp and a nineteen-year-old human. Not quite statutory, cough Slayer cough, but getting there. Harmony might just learn, if she didn't trip on her own vanity and land on a well-placed stake. Self-help books: The Top Ten Stupid Things Vampires Do To Really Bugger Themselves Up.

Maybe if you were lucky, or unlucky, as the case might be, you'd run into somebody you wanted to spend more than a night with...start running together, hunting together... it was all so much more casual than these agonizingly awkward human relationship...thingies. Unless of course you were lucky enough to be turned by a psychotically attractive git from the Order of Aurelius who got off on that Anne Rice family togetherness thing, which was rare enough in the eighteen hundreds, let alone today. Little families like theirs, mated pairs like him and Dru (or like he'd pretended they were) didn't come along very often.

I'm…brooding! I don't brood--I kill. I beat things up. I make brilliantly sarcastic observations, and I shag whatever I damn well feel like shagging. I occasionally get completely shitfaced and sing show tunes at the top of my lungs, but I Don't. Bleedin'. Brood! Grrrr... The only two people he'd ever brooded over in his whole relatively short unlife were... Fuck. And fuck, and also for good measure, fuck. Not going there, not thinking that, not not not... not even entering the same postal code as that thought.

Because shit like this didn't only happen to Spike. It had happened to Angel...when the bloody great poofter had fallen in love with the Slayer. What part of 'don't think that thought' didn't you understand, brain?

Because Spike, William the bleedin' Bloody, was not falling in love with a human. A human who wasn't even here, whose basement Spike was trapped in until sunset, unless he wanted to make a run for it under his leather duster, which was feeling more and more like Russian roulette every time he tried it. A dark-haired, dark-eyed male human with a truly delicious arse, visually and literally, a self-sacrificing wit, a blinding smile, no personal pride to speak of, and even less taste in clothing.

And bed partners, apparently. Spike's itchy mind had quickly put last night's little comment about car-inspired Faithisms together with his memory of Xander and the Watcher canvassing Sunnydale's danker hellholes looking for "Dark hair. Yea tall, name of Faith, criminally insane." Bit of nasty history there, behind that self-deprecating "I don't know what I'm doing" -- something the second Slayer had done to his Xander. They might just have to have words, if they met up. Wait--"his" Xander? Shit...shit...shit... Then there was Demon-Girl, who'd shagged Xander silly for months and then broken up with him because he didn't love her, or some such bollocks? And now ... Spike, at least for last night, which showed the lad had some discernment, after all, if not much instinct for self-preservation. And who knew how many in between? Oh, he'd been going with the Prom Queen, lovely Cordelia, hadn't he, back in the day? Now there was a match made in Bedlam.

Yup. This is the life. Trapped in a basement trying to convince myself I haven't gone and fallen for the enemy. Pounding a hole in the back of a ratty old sofa while I sit here trying to figure out what sexual idiocies in his past prompted him to be suicidal enough to give me a go, and…pretending I don't miss him already. Sounds from the top of the indoor stairs froze his hand in mid-smack, as the door between the basement and the main floor of the Harris house began creaking open. And of course, lying about absolutely starkers except for a digital watch and my infallible charm, while his parents pop down from the living room to offer me a cuppa and a nice chocolate biscuit. Cookie. Whatever. Shit.

He scuttled for, and under, the covers as quickly and silently as possible as the door shut again and the stairs began to squeak. He curled up, head under the pillow, trying to look as much like a sleeping Xander Harris as possible. I…am a nineteen year old boy-child with no fashion sense. I've just buggered the brains out of an annoying but irresistible vampire named Spike, and I'd like some bloody sleep, so for God's sake, don't try to talk to me!

He still wasn't in any hurry to have that conversation with the boy's mum. He could picture it:

"Er, hello, Mrs. Harris… Xander's just…stepped out to see a man about a dog. Who'm I? Well, I used to go by William, but most folks call me Spike, these days. I just stopped in to borrow the washing machine, 'cos I love the way it makes m'clothes smell all springtime fresh, and keeps the colors bright…er, yeah, they're in the machine right now. I really only brought the one set with me, and…" The slow steps down the stairs were a little too heavy for a woman, though.

Or Xander's dad could just beat the crap out of Spike. That was always an option. Not as if the shit-for-brains arsewipe could come to any other conclusion except the coincidentally accurate one if he found a naked man in his son's bed, smelling of peanut butter and sex. Not as if there's anywhere I could run to. Wonder if anybody's picked up on the fact that I don't like Harris the elder very much… too damned familiar. Treats his family like shit, at the very least rips 'em to bits with his mouth, and when he's in a serious drunk… If I ever even suspect he's laid a hand on Xander… I'll do what? First of all, insert the obligatory 'why the fuck do I care?' here, and second, what'll I do? Throw m'self at his fist repeatedly until he repents the error of his ways or I go unconscious? He could picture that, too. It was less amusing than the first sequence, but just as unpleasant.

The footsteps reached the bottom of the stairs, and scuffed across towards the bed. I'm asleep, I'm asleep, I'm asleep, I'm a bloody invisible vampire… A quiet ahem in a familiar voice led him to tentatively peek out through a fold in the blanket… at Xander Harris, wearing what had to be the oldest gray bathrobe in fashion history, holding a folded-up newspaper under one arm and a plate of pastry-type things in both hands.

 

*****

 

Spike shook his head at his own schoolboy panic, sitting up and shrugging the covers down to his waist while trying to look as un-sheepish as possible. He had an image to protect, after all. Wouldn't do him any good to be seen cowering under the blankets apparently in order to avoid Capitalize as appropriate… the Morning After Conversation. Xander was just standing there, staring at him, indecipherable expression on his infuriatingly welcome sight of a face. What--I still have peanut butter on my face? I thought between us we'd pretty much managed to lick the platter clean on that score.

"Let me guess…" Spike ventured. "You're torn between pretending I'm not here, kicking my arse out of bed and into the sunlight, or initiating the inevitable painfully awkward conversation about what you did or didn't do last night." See, Harris. You're not the only one who's mastered the trick of kickin' himself to save the other fellow the bother.

His host blinked those exasperating dark eyes, slowly. "Okay, I was gonna go for 'Blueberry danish, bearclaw, or chocolate donut with sprinkles?' but if you want to dive straight into the mocking and humiliation, I guess that's an option too."

Spike snorted. "Let's see--the love of my undeath left me, repeatedly, 'cos I'm apparently too nice a guy for her. I've got a chip in my head that's effectively turned me into a cottontailed bunny, which I bloody asked for, since the bastards nabbed me while I stood in the middle of a clearing and tossed off about how the Big Fuckin' Bad was back and everybody'd better watch out. Somewhere in there I shacked up with the only vampire in the world whose skull you can use as a wind instrument, and even she wouldn't have me now because I'm too soddin' pathetic. Not that I ever want to see 'er again, mind you. So I'd say I've pretty much reached a humiliation plateau. Not much more you could heap on me at this point, unless it involves wearin' a ballerina costume. Sprinkles."

"Umm, what?" Xander asked, confusion radiating from his scrunched-up face.

"Chocolate with sprinkles, please." Politeness will get you everywhere. Well, that and positively edible lips, which Spike was well aware he possessed.

The youth looked down at the pile of pastries. "Oh. Right. By the way, you left off 'Give the Buffmeister a call and tell her you took advantage of me in my weakened condition, and you need to be staked immediately' from your menu." He slowly approached the bed and held out what was possibly the gooiest chocolate donut Spike had ever encountered, topped off with a fiesta of chocolate sprinkles.

Nothing like the hair of the dog that bit you… Spike mused, accepting it gingerly. Trying to figure out the safest place to bite into it without dripping chocolate all over the clean bedclothes.

"No, you told me you wouldn't, and I believe you. Shouldn't I? Anyway, what weakened condition? You weren't drunk, though if you want to pretend you were, s'alright by me."

Xander sat down on the edge of the red reclining chair that had been Spike's oh-so-comfortable bed up until last night, plate of donutty goodness on his knees. "How do you know I wasn't? I could've been drunk. Most people have problems figuring out that I'm not drunk." he asked, a bit defensively.

"I'd have smelled it on you. You just smelled like chocolate, er... coconut, and…well, you, and maybe the tiniest dash of garlic." Spike was still eyeing the donut carefully.

"To which you're allergic," Xander pointed out helpfully.

Spike smiled. "Yeah, well," gesturing vaguely with his donut-filled hand, "I like to live dangerously. What can I say." Chocolate sprinkles flew everywhere. So much for protecting the bedsheets. Xander apparently noticed his reluctance to engage the donut in battle, as it were.

"Oh, go ahead. If I actually gave a damn, you think I'd be sleeping in the Bed of Doom in the first place?" The teen picked up another chocolate donut and bit in, sure enough dripping icing and sprinkles all over the plate beneath. "Most recent carbon datings on that couch suggest that I was probably conceived in it. And that did not just come out of my mouth." Or at least that was what it sounded like he'd said, though a mouthful of pastry.

Wincing inwardly at the thought of Harris Senior and the pixilated hausfrau having ever touched the bed he was lying in and the demonette, and whoever else he's had over for slumber parties of the more-or-less innocent variety…, Spike shrugged and attacked the sticky donut. Frosting on his fingers, and yes, dripping onto the pillow. Bloody good chocolate, though.

"Well," he finally said when he could get his jaws to work properly again, "someone was pretty insistent about changing the sheets last night, and it wasn't me."

Xander licked chocolate icing off his upper lip. Which didn't do much for Spike's powers of concentration on the alleged awkwardness at hand. "And the comfort rating plunges sharply. Stay tuned for further developments. Right. Sheets. That was for your benefit," the boy added, and then paused. "Jammy little oik."

"I'm so proud. Next we'll teach you why real football isn't played with a ball that has pointy ends. Y'know, if you're going to try claiming amnesia, you probably shouldn't be quoting me on anything I may or may not've said last night." Spike studied his chocolate-coated fingers intently. Began to lick them clean, one by one. In between fingers: "So…somewhere around the ungodly hour of seven or so, you got peckish and decided to go out for donuts and the morning paper?"

Xander stood up, looking at Spike oddly, after having polished off the last of his own donut. "Yes. Yes I did. It's a bright sunny Sunnydale Sunday morning, and while I was ambling my way down the road to Mister Donut, I passed Officer Bob on his bicycle. He said, 'Good Morning, Xander!' and I said 'Good Morning, Officer Bob,' and he said 'That's a lovely bathrobe you're wearing, Xander,' and I said, 'Thank you, Officer Bob. My grandma gave it to me for Christmas when I was sixteen…' "

Spike launched a chocolate-sprinkled pillow at his head, which he ducked easily. "Yeh, right, I take your point. So you got peckish and decided to sneak upstairs and pinch some calorie-laden goodness from your folks, who apparently get up far earlier in the morning than I gave 'em credit for. Come to it, so do you. Bunch of giant larks, the lot of you." He should be sleeping. In a crypt somewhere, probably, but he should definitely be sleeping.

The Scooby-child walked over to the "kitchen" and put down the plate with its remaining bounty on the little card table. "Are you kidding? Nobody in this house is awake before noon on a Sunday. My dad, in his own warped little world, thinks he can make up for being out all night terrorizing the countryside and worrying the sheep, by bringing home tasty baked goods. I'd say these entered the premises at about three a.m." He unfolded the newspaper that had somehow managed to stay put under his arm all this time, and pulled off the first section. Leaning back against the fridge, he seemed to be perusing the morning headlines. His voice emerged from behind a wall of newsprint: "Like you need to worry about calories, anyway. What is it with you and people food? It's not like you need it to survive."

Spike was insulted, just a bit, and felt no need to hide it in his reply. "Oi! I'm people, too. I'm just… dead people. No, I don't need human food to survive. Don't need to shag, either. Doesn't mean I don't like it."

Silence from the fortress of newspaper. Finally: "Was that a compliment?"

"No," Spike answered sulkily. Well, yeah, but…

"Oh." A rather small 'oh' that was trying so hard to be nonchalant. Spike sighed. The things he had to do around here.

"A compliment would've been 'That was nice, thank you, I enjoyed it,' " he explained in as bored a tone as he could manage.

"Oh." Pause… "Was that a compliment?" Maybe a little amusedly.

No, that was what we in the business like to call an 'understatement.' Not that I'm going to tell you that, git.

"Maybe." He glanced around. Where was his duster? Surely he had a pack of fags hidden in one of the pockets. That was the one place he hadn't checked last night…mainly because he couldn't figure out where it had gotten to. Then again, there was something a bit too cliched about smoking during this conversation, anyway.

The newspaper Berlin Wall lowered enough to reveal Xander's eyes and nose. Yeah, definite amusement, coupled with uncertainty and a tiny bit of duh-face working its way in there.

"Was that the painfully awkward conversation?" the boy asked.

Ha! You wish! "No, that was us doing the Lambada around the painfully awkward conversation," Spike supplied, giving up on the visual search for his coat. He had a brief mental flash of he and Xander doing the back-breakingly ridiculous grope-and-slither dance, and had to grin.

"Oh sure, pick a dance that was popular for about five minutes the year I turned nine…" Xander sneered.

"You'd prefer the mental image supplied by the Macarena? Maybe the Boot-Scoot Boogie?" Spike shot back. He studied the visible parts of Xander's face, and came to an amazing conclusion. No, not that he's breathtaking. I came to that conclusion a while ago. Reinforced a bit in recent moments, that's all. "Hang about--you tried to learn it, didn't you? The Lambada, I mean." He couldn't keep the snicker out of his voice. Oh, this was too good.

Those dark eyes crinkled up. Somebody was smiling, behind the Sunday paper. "Oh, yeah. Me and Willow were quite the little dirty dancers. Impressed the heck out of Ira and Sheila. Well, confused the heck out of 'em, anyway."

A nine-year-old Xander and Willow.... He couldn't even conjure up an image for that one. "Don't suppose there's a snapshot of that lying around anywhere?" he chuckled.

"What, for blackmail purposes? All the blood and Count Chocula you can eat and a no-stake-age guarantee? Nuh-uh. All incriminating evidence was eaten or flushed. Or both. Peter Graves has nothing on me." Xander riposted, finally lowering the newspaper.

Spike shook his head. "Just wondered what you looked like as a kid. If I wanted to blackmail you, I s'pose I've got more recent dirt on you than a ten-year-old shot of you and Red doing the vertical rug-shag."

The smile was gone, just like that. "Yeah, I guess you do. That'd be the painfully awkward conversation part, right?"

Kick-me face. What, the kid thought Spike actually was going to blackmail him? Hadn't he been paying attention to the whole 'I don't want to be Slayer-munchies' byplay? Aside from which…well, why did Spike care whether the boy thought he'd do something like that? But he did care, and it made him feel twitchy. This was getting stupid. Or maybe Spike was.

"Here, throw me a section, will you? No fair hoardin' the defensive shields." Spike motioned towards the newspaper. Xander was boggling at him. Long past duh-face, and well into what-the-hell-are-you-talking-about.

"Comics, entertainment, local news, don't care. Anything but the sports page or home décor." Blink. Blink. Oh, for cryin' out loud... He started to make 'Fine, I'll get it myself' movements, and as the blanket began to slip off his hips, Xander quickly threw him the multi-colored Sunday comics.

"Ta." He unfolded the pages and spread them across his lap. Silence. He looked up. The younger man was studying him in turbo-confusion mode. He sighed. Spike to the rescue. Spend half your time winding him up, and the minute he gets really twisted in knots, just like you love to watch, you have to go and kiss it better, don't you, moron? 'Cos it's different, this time, innit. Well, then, let's even the footing a bit, then. "Look, I'm not very good at all this Morning After bollocks. Not usually necessary."

Well, that got rid of the confused-face, anyhow. Replaced by...another new one. Something between curiosity and self-disgust. Bugger it all. What are we going to do with this boy? 'Ello? Snarky voices? Any help here?

"What, you're pretty much a 'shag-'em-and-leave-'em' kinda guy?"

The bitterness in that voice, with its mimicry of his accent actually coming closer than last night's much more pleasurable mockery, was cutting through loud and clear. Unless Spike had lost his usual touch for sussing out people's dirty little inner devils, it didn't have a hell of a lot to do with Spike-and-Xander's-Wild-n'-Wacky-Peanut-Butter-Adventure. Somebody hurt him, hard. Maybe broke 'im. Maybe more than once. And when Spike figured out who it was, they were gonna pay. Fuck. Fuck. Soddin' hell, buggering fuck a blind mongoose in a dark alley in Dorchester. This is not happening. Casual. Calm.

"S'mutual, ducks. Unless you're in what you'd call your long-term relationship, which takes on a whole new meaning when you're both dead, your basic demon's pretty much into one-night stands. Saves on flowers n' candy. No bumbling on about how you'll call 'em when you know bloody well you'll never lay eyes on 'em again." Spike pretended to be terribly interested in the reprinted Peanuts strip at the top of the page. One he'd read when it was new. More silence. What, I have to do all the work? Well, I'm not payin' rent, might as well do something to earn my keep. "Or you find yourself somebody to play about with for a while, but everybody knows the score. Nice and clean. Well, nice and clean and dirty, if it's any good," he finished off suggestively.

"Like Harmony?" Xander asked, with a rusty little penknife in his voice. Oh, this one could dig it in, when he put in the effort. Spike looked up at him, halfway across the room, still looking as if he'd just woken up, dark hair standing up in fluffed-up tangles. Why did he always underestimate this child's potential to act exactly like a wounded animal in a trap? Exactly like...well, like Spike, without the malice aforethought. What a sorry pair.

"Yeah, well. I had to pick up an eighteen year old Vampire American Princess raised on Beverly Hills 90210. Dozy bitch. " Said without rancor. Well, without much. She'd learn, or she'd be dust. She'd stop being a high-school bimbo and learn to be a vampire, or somebody would stop it for her. Idiot fledges were tuppence a bag everywhere, but especially on the Hellmouth, and they made great cannon fodder. Harmony made an exceptionally idiotic vamp, though the view wasn't bad. Not nearly as good as the one he had at the moment, however.

"I think you actually hurt her, if that' s possible. I ran across her burning a pile of your stuff. Books, CD's..." The human looked lost in thought, and maybe a little embarrassed, and still disgusted.

"Wondered what happened to 'em. If it makes y'feel all warm and gooey inside, she got 'er own back. Tried to stake me last Thanksgiving. Wouldn't feed me, wouldn't give me my gear back, and now I know why, just kept rabbiting on about girl-power an' self-actualization." He pronounced the last phrase in true radio-shrink mode, complete with supportive undertones. "Is it just me, or do you think somebody ought to bitch-slap Crankshaft into a well-earned grave, too?" he added, scanning the bottom of the first page of the funnies.

"What, you don't find other cranky old people endearing? " Xander sniped.

"Hiss and spit, pet. Me-ow. I don't feature me joining the Geritol set anytime soon. " He tossed the paper to the foot of the bed with an 'I-give-up' shrug. This was taking too bloody long, and making him think too bloody much, and taking its toll on his extremely creative internal vocabulary to the point where the only words that kept repeating in his head were 'bloody,' 'bugger' and 'fuck.' Not good, Spike. Not good at all.

He gave the boy a hard stare. "You gonna let me make this easy for you, or what? You want to forget anything ever happened, fine. Great. It's forgotten. Not about to out you to your little friends, for obvious reasons. We'll just say the only reason I'm still here is I don't fancy damagin' my youthful good looks with harmful UV rays."

And I'm not a cranky old person. So there. Snarky Voice swam up from whatever sewer it'd been sleeping in, and bashed him in the brain with a two-by-four. No, you're a soddin' cottontailed bunny --who's shagged everything on two legs, and at least one with fins. Male, female, and questionable but tasty. Who can drape himself round a woman like a second skin and whisper pretty garbage in her ear all night, but hold a man like you still want him there in the morning? Cuddle afterwards?!! Only done that with one, never since then. You did it last night, though, didn't you? In the dark, where nobody could see. I could see, you sorry little bastard. Spike shook off his internal torture artist with a mental glare, and concentrated on Xander. Something was going on there. The wheels were turning…

No answer to his spoken question. But the look on that face said he'd not only just knocked Xander down and kicked him, but spat on him as well. Oh, nice. Wonderful. Puppies and kittens and fluffy bunnies, none of 'em with enough blood in 'em to make a decent meal, and now Xander Harris. Just stake me now.

"Xander..." Spike didn't know how to be apologetic. Not sincerely. Not to somebody who was mentally older than ten, which seemed to be about where Dru was stuck. Then again, he began to wonder if the boy was much older than that, emotionally, no matter how bright he might actually be.

Big-time anger now, red and black, and this time it really was aimed at Spike. "No, stay as long as you want. Please make use of the facilities. They're available to every stray vampire who decides to plant his ass in my chair and hang his outdated punk rock posters on my walls and eat my food and play with my head, and just generally treat me like shit. Be sure to turn the vacancy sign on when you leave." That said, Xander tossed the paper on the table and stalked off to the bathroom, leaving Spike to stare at the rumpled sheets and the Sunday funnies and wonder just what on the Hellmouth he was doing, for about the four-thousandth time in the last forty-eight hours.

And what did he mean, 'outdated' punk rock posters?

Then, as the sound of the shower started up, he pushed the covers back, lost his mind (again), wrapped a sheet around his waist, and made his way to the bathroom door.

 

*****

 

Knock, knock. Who's there? An idiot vampire who's gone and fallen in … No! No chance in hell at that word. …fallen for… sod it. Nah, didn't exactly have a very manly ring to it. I'm not. I'm not. It's fucking stupid, and completely insane, and I'm not, and... and even if I am, I'm not telling him. He's not having that to hold over my head. God, I've got to be the wettest demon this side of the Pacific Ocean. One good shag, or, right, fine, one exceptionally good shag, and a few months of quietly lusting after the boy and yeah, treating him like shit because I treat everybody like shit, so it made good cover, and if I treated him a titch more shittily than everybody else, well…and... and here I am being the male version of Harmony Kendall and babbling like Willow on speed. Just put me in a dress and call me Susan.

And he knew, didn't he, that it hadn't been anything he would've considered an exceptionally good shag, if it had happened with anyone else. Not bad, had worse. A fumbling virgin. Still, he supposed, technically a virgin… Except…rolling across the floor, fighting over that all-important jar of peanut butter, the look on Xander's face when Spike kissed him that first time, the second time… Xander licking peanut butter off Spike's nose, and him thinking, yeah, alright, the lad's got a pair! And a very nice pair, very nice everything. Being so ready to explode almost at the sight of that rapidly changing face, let alone when those shyly exploring fingers had almost teased him into oblivion.

Pulling the boy to his chest. Just holding him there, trying to let him know just by touching him that no, he hadn't done anything wrong. Listening to Xander's heart beat and realizing he wasn't hungry for it, not in the conventional vampire sense. Talking to him, listening to him talk, even when the words were putting off Spike's release from the hot ache that had been building inside him for months. Just because the sound of Xander's voice and the nonsense coming out of his mouth both actually meant something, words, thoughts, that amused the hell out of the vampire, or would have, if he hadn't been just this close to disintegrating. And the slow torture of wanting the body, and despite himself, wanting the man, and finally the unbelievable feeling that with Xander Harris wrapped around his body, inside and out, he'd found the most perfect place in the world to be. It had been like being the moron in the middle of a fireworks factory who lights up a fag and tosses the match over his shoulder… and it had been like…coming home.

And of course, in trying to do the decent cowardly thing and let the fool boy pretend it never happened, he'd gone and buggered something up again. Maybe everything. Saw it in his eyes, that Parker Abrams vulnerability, and knew it was for real, in this one, and said…something…to kick him back to the gravel where whoever the last one was left him. Right. Well. Carve another cock-up notch on the great stone tablets in the Spike Hall of Fame. Right next to 'Oh, just play about with the Slayerettes' heads a bit, let the Slayer get her tight little arse kicked, and Tony Frankenrobbins will get this chip out of your head.' Well, let's just see how much more of an imbecile I can make of myself, shall we?

Knock, knock. No answer. Knock, knock. Just the sound of running water.

"Xander?" No reply. He slowly pushed the door open. White shower curtain drawn shut, and the water running behind it. He almost tripped on the blasted sheet walking in, and would have dropped it where he stood, but the point of the exercise was not to make the boy more screwed up than he already was, and somehow he suspected that a stark naked vampire wouldn't help the atmosphere. Shame, really, 'cos I make a pretty damn fine lookin' stark naked vampire.

"Xander?" he asked again.

"Get out." The voice was low, both in timbre and origin-- it came from the floor of the shower. What, he was sitting under the shower?

"Look, Xander…" he started. God knows what he was actually about to say. He hadn't gotten that far yet.

"I said, get out. You can change the channels on the TV by hand--it's a spiffy new technology called getting up off your ass. The blood's in the fridge, the garlic bread's on the microwave, if you feel like living dangerously, and your Count Chocula's in the cabinet behind the plunger. You can't be that bored, you sure as hell don't need to take a piss, so get the fuck out." Xander's voice was rough, darker than his usual half-cracking tenor.

Yeah, he's in a good mood. Yay, me, as his lot would say. Whatever it was you said, Spike, you did a right good job. Enough of this. There was tact, and patience, and there was finding out what was going on, and he'd never been all that good with happy mediums. I'm trying. Don't I get points for trying?

Spike drew the curtain aside. Xander sat in the far corner of the shower, knees drawn up to his chest, chin resting on arms resting on knees. The water poured down on him, plastering his dark hair to his skull, to his face, which was set in the most amazing combination of anger and hurt and some sort of loathing…making him look, despite the well-developed muscles, very much like a twelve year old kid.

"Do you not comprehend 'Get out,' Dead-Boy the Second? Do I need to go ask Giles what the Fyarl is for it? " the youth asked incredulously. "Also, in America, the reason we close the bathroom door is to hide the naked people on the inside from the non-naked people on the outside." Spike shook his head, and sank down on his haunches next to the open curtain, to look Xander in the eye.

"Whatever I said to piss you off, I'm sorry," he said simply. "And whoever it was that chewed you up and spit you out, and chewed you up all over again, it wasn't me, Xander. Not even with my big vampire teeth." He waited, and when the silence got a bit too loud, he finally added, "Was it?"

Xander laughed, a short explosive sound that it must've hurt to make, if hearing it was any indication. "Don't flatter yourself." Lower, even: "Get out, Spike. You wanna protect your youthful good looks, feel free. There's lotion in the medicine chest. Take it and go moisturize yourself to death."

"Could be fun. Not 'til you tell me what the hell I said, though. I might want to use it on purpose, sometime, if it was that good." Spike tried for an evil grin, really, but it ended up a sort of pained half-smile.

"Fuck you." Said without any emotion at all, and that was scary, even for a hundred and twenty-something year old vampire. (When had he last really counted, instead of tossing off a number that sounded right?)

"Already did that, pet. Did you want another go?" Just a laugh. Just Spike being Spike. Safe and familiar, in its own whacked-out way, he hoped.

"Yes," the boy hissed, his voice suddenly as full of loathing as it had been empty of anything a second before--not for Spike, the vampire realized in a flash-- but for himself.

Oh. Spike couldn't decide which bit of himself he disliked more-- the part that, despite the sickening sound of Xander's voice stewing in its own self-hatred, was doing a little dance of joy that Xander did, indeed, still want him-- or the bit that was getting smoky and cold and cracking to little pieces because it only heard the pain, and, unlike any self-respecting demon, wanted it to stop. Girly-vamp...

Xander scowled at him. Despite the hot water falling on his body, the youngster was shivering, or shaking, or something. "Yes, I want another go. No, I don't want to forget it. I don't think I can forget it. Are you fucking happy? Have you accomplished your list of evil things to do for the week? Stomp on some plants, since they won't set your chip off, watch PBS without pledging, twist Xander's head around 'til it pops off, and move on to bigger and better happies?"

"Yeah, that about sums it up," Spike said agreeably, sliding all the way down to sit with his back against the bathroom wall, legs stretched out in front of him across the doorway to the shower, still wrapped in a sheet that was by this time soaking wet from the water splashing out onto the floor. "You left off 'Try and take over the world,' but I figure we can do that tomorrow night, Pinky." No joy. Not a smile cracked. "Look, didn't say you had to forget about it, you know. I said you could," he added a bit gruffly.

Xander didn't seem to hear him, because what he said next sure as hell wasn't in answer to anything Spike had just uttered. "Y'know, when we figured out you'd played us all, to get us separated from Buffy, I tried to be surprised. I really did. Ran into you in that alley, looking for Faith, I realized you were right. We can't get it through our heads that you hate us all. We're stupid. Well, I'm stupid. No matter how many times I bang up flat against a brick wall, break my nose, I still keep running back into it like it's gonna slide out of the way when I get there. Wanting to trust you. And what kind of an idiot does that make me?"

Spike didn't even know how to begin to answer that. Dunno if I could count the ways, mate. Don't know what's worse-- the fact that you want to, or the fact that I think maybe you can.

"For once in my life, that wasn't a rhetorical question, you know. And now I'm strangely proud that I could use the word 'rhetorical' correctly in a sentence."

"Xander…"

"Yeah, that's a pretty good answer. I like it. I'm a unique species of idiot. Got my own Latin name and everything. Thank God there's no more of me, or we might procreate. I mean, c'mon, look me in the face and tell me I should trust you. And I'll probably do it, 'cause, can we say it together, class, I'm an idiot."

Spike looked him in the face. Good face. Like it. Shouldn't have that look on it, though. "You shouldn't trust me. I'm a bastard. I keep trying to tell you people that. You'd think I'd get it through my head that you never listen. You shouldn't trust me, but no matter how much you bitch an' moan about me, no matter how many times I've screwed you over, you do. Hell, Xander, you trusted me with your life last night."

Xander apparently heard that one, because his eyes widened. "Umm, no, giving it up for American chipmanship here."

"S'not what I mean, and you know it. You believed me when I told you there was nothing you could get from me, nor the other way round." No answer, and Xander was staring off into space, now. Oh, brilliant, Spike. Forget wearing a sheet into the room to spare him the mind-altering sight of your tackle--just throw the words 'unprotected sex' in his face, the morning after his first and probably only time, at this rate, and see if he calms down. "Which is true, got that? Don't get your delicates in a twist. Well, if you were wearin' any."

"Would I seem any less stupid if I pointed out that I actually knew that?" Xander finally asked, sounding tired. "Not, oddly enough, the only person in my graduating class to have had sex with a vampire. Welcome to the Hellmouth. True, I didn't need to worry about you turning into Soul-Free Psycho Boy, since you came pre-packaged that way, so, yeah, big advantage there. Score one over the Buffster."

"Definitely two, at least. You're a better kisser," Spike offered. Well, it was true. Slayer'd been…close, but…no cigar, eh, Sigmund? If he could just get the kid to smile… but no. "Right, fine, I'm actually glad you didn't just trust me on that one," ...running fingers through ice-blond hair still sticky with peanut butter from last night, " 'cos I'd hate to be the one twit who told you the truth and got you killed because you believed the next bloke. Assuming there is a next bloke. Bird. Whatever."

"Oh, give me some credit, Spike! It's the year two thousand. They were practically teaching us safe sex in kindergarten. I may be stupid, but I'm not that stupid. And why..." The young man's voice trailed off, and he closed his eyes. Spike waited, but nothing more seemed to be forthcoming.

Look, it's Spike, Unconventional Vampire Dentist! I sleep all night and pull teeth all day. "Why what, pet?"

Xander kept his eyes closed. "Don't call me that. Why did… Look, when I made that crack about the mocking and the humiliation, I meant me, you know."

Spike shrugged, then realized how useful that was when the boy couldn't see him. "Yeah, knew that. So?"

"So... why don't you want to see me get killed? Saving it for entertainment value when "Passions" gets canceled? I thought watching me twist in the wind was your purpose in life. Why aren't you at least makin' with the patented Spike 'cut you off at the knees and piss on your head' sarcasm? Why aren't you being an asshole, dammit? I know how to deal with that."

Oh, perfect. Here was this naked boy in a shower, looking like a cross between a scared child and well, dinner, and/or the most delicious fuck in the world. He was shivering and very possibly about to cry, just literally begging Spike to rip his sensitive little soul to shreds... nummy. Except it wasn't, because Spike was Soul-Free Psycho Boy, apparently, and he didn't want to. The thought of it actually made him sick. And the thought of it making him sick actually made him sick, but not as much as it should. He pulled his knees up to sit cross-legged, tangling himself up in the sodden sheet even more. Sighed. Wished he had a smoke.

Xander finally opened his eyes. Blinked. "Hello, annoying vampire in my bathroom, I asked you a question."

 

*****

 

Spike's Philosophy Course, 101: In the history of history, there are two things that always fuck up a perfectly good plan for world domination. Or cornering the global kumquat market, or getting the attention of the bint next door with the walloping knockers, or winning at Monopoly. Insert your own worthwhile endeavor here.

Item One: Not, as you'd expect, poor planning, but lack of patience. Short attention-span theatre, boys and girls. Case in point, one vampire being slammed into a car bonnet by his brassed-off sire, to the tune of " Hey, I had a plan!" --"You? A plan?" -- "A good plan. Smart. Carefully laid out. - But I got bored. All that watching, waiting, - my legs started to cramp." Even the poor planning, when it happened-- and he was the first to admit, though not out loud, that it did-- had more to do with not being able to put up with taking the time to think everything through. Two steps ahead of the game at most, that was all he could get, which was why he never could play chess, aside from the sitting doing nothing while your bum fell asleep aspect.

Spike had a history of falling afoul of Item One. Can't actually wait 'til the Feast of St. Vigeous, no, we have to attack early, and get our collective backsides kicked by the Slayer and, heaven or hell help us, her ever-lovin' mother. Welcome to Sunnydale, Spike, hope you survive the experience. Make a pact with the Slayer to get him and Dru out of town and the seriously twisted version of brassed-off sire packed off to hell, and he wins the battle, but loses Dru. The operation was a success, but the patient's dust. He knew about Item One, and how susceptible he was to it. Didn't mean he ever learned. Witness last month's fun with the demonic Terminator.

Item Two: Samson, Merlin, any number of your basic Greek gods and heroes, mythical or otherwise. They could tell you. So could Angelus, the demon with the face of an Angel, if he weren't stuck in a box with a nancy-boy human soul slapped over him. Yeah, the "L" word. Love. Luuuurve, with all the snotty adolescent whine you can put into it. Helps if you roll your eyes a bit and make violin-sawing motions.

Once upon a time, the Irish Bastard™ wasn't all that twisted. Oh, he was a fine figure of a vampire, yeah, loved to torture, maim, drain, turn people's heads on their necks 'til the crackling sounds bounced off the walls, but to Spike, or the man he'd been back then, and Drusilla, he was just Angelus. The only torments he inflicted on them once they were vampires were ones they'd...enjoyed. One way or another. Then somewhere along the way he got himself a soul, second-hand, for a decent price in a car boot sale. Buy from the gypsies, you always get wonky goods. Enter the ponce. Still shaggable, maybe, if you gagged him and didn't look into the puppy eyes. Theoretically.

And enter Item Two: bottle-blonde Slayer with about four brain cells to rub together, an admittedly tasty little package, and the delusion that the world revolved around her. Ponce, meet Slayer, meet gypsy curse, add mood music and scented candles, Calgon, take me away, and welcome back Angelus. 'Cept it wasn't the old, familiar Irish Bastard. This one lived and breathed, or actually didn't, for breaking the Slayer into little tiny pieces and playing out Riverdance on top of 'em. An' ain't that a lovely mental image... 'Cos even without the soul, he still loved her. And he hated that, so he hated everything. When he got bored with tormenting her, there was always Spike in a wheelchair to cut into shreds, Dru to use and toss aside. The world to suck into hell…Luuuurve. Item Two.

Spike, now, Spike didn't tend to get caught up by Item Two all that often, historically speaking. Can count that high on my fingers, I can. One, two... But when he did... Take one vampire, by definition not in his right mind, and wasn't all that stable beforehand, thanks, add two scoops of 'Utter Git' powder, stir in chocolate as desired, and set on puree.

 

*****

 

So, and he was freezing his knackers off on the cold concrete floor, with a clammy bedsheet sticking to him, and Xander Harris was staring at him, waiting for the answer to the question he'd been asking himself for a while now: why did he care if the boy lived or died, why wasn't he being his usual charming, devilish, 'cut you off at the knees and piss on your head' self? How the hell should I know? See Item Two above. Bang, slam, smack me in the face with a brick wall. I... No, won't say it, won't even think it, but yeah, Item Two.

"You know, you can leave any time. It was pretty much implied in the phrase 'Get out.' I assume you're not gonna answer the question, so, to steal another Spikeism, sod off," Xander finally said, far too softly.

Oh, hell, here goes nothing.

"No, I'll answer the question, but it's a bitch of an exchange rate. I do yours, you have to answer three of mine." He wanted to be up and pacing. That was him, usually. Too much energy for one dead body to keep in. But he should've been sleeping, and he was cold and wet, and mentally deranged, and trying to be selectively truthful with this dangerous little fool in front of him.

Water cascading down his face, into his eyes, over his crumpled-up body, which had at last stopped shivering, Xander scowled. "Or you could just leave."

"Yeah, or I could just leave. Don't count on it, though, when you're so much fun to annoy. You in?"

"Whatever."

"Right, here's your answer: I'm a loony." He grinned. Come on, smile, already. No, but at least there was something approaching duh-face, which got rid of the one that was making Spike want to bash his own head against the tiles.

"That's it?"

"In a nutshell. Which is, as they say, an appropriate receptacle."

"Fuck off, thank you for playing, take your home version of the game and go to hell," his...well, yeah, his Xander replied.

"What was that? 'Please extrapolate, Spike' did you say?" he asked musingly. "Thanks for askin'--don't mind if I do. Now, and don't quote me on this, but I don't think you're an idiot. Well, no more than usual. I think you're bloody demented, for doing something as damn fool stupid as shaggin' me, but hey, 'demented,' y'know, it has potential. I can work with 'demented.' And I care about whether you live or die because, hey, what do you know-- I'm demented, too! "

 

*****

 

And it was clear as a bell. In an instant. He'd been having bitch-out sessions with himself, brooding over the boy, brooding over the fact that he was brooding…Calling himself by every sneeringly familiar epithet he'd ever used on anybody else. Second-guessing his own wonderful, devious, endlessly entertaining dead brain because he didn't want to acknowledge what was going on a little lower--no, not that low--in his unbeating heart. Because it made him girly-vamp, or a bit too much like the ponce, or any number of things he didn't want to be, because they were, well, demented.

But that's what I am ! Out and proud as a psychotic vampire for over a century. Wave the Rorshach-blotted flag and let me lead the march. When did I get so afraid of being crazy? Too much watching over Dru and knowing I couldn't follow it in that direction? No fear. Not my kind of crazy. When did I start being ashamed of being stupid? I'm a complete idiot with demonic squirrels nesting in my attic, and it's been my claim to fame for the better part of my unlife. 'Cos I may be an idiot, but I'm an idiot with style !

Granted, his idea of style usually involved general carnage, bloodshed, death, and much kicking of human and demonic tail, and thanks to good old American chipmanship, he was seriously limited in that department at the moment. To demons and threadbare furniture, to be exact. That didn't mean he couldn't invent new ways of being completely out of his mind, though!

If I want to shag a good guy, and keep shagging him for the foreseeable future, I'm obviously insane. Where exactly is it written that one brand of insanity's got more street cred than another? I'm a complete boneheaded, gobsmacked loon, and if I want to call this boy 'pet' or 'love' or kiss him, or stroke his hair, or hold him until and while and after he finally opens that bruised little heart of his, and let him cry into my great manly chest, I say damn straight! Tally fucking ho! It's completely twisted, and what the hell's more me than that? And if I've gone and fallen in love with him, y'know, luuuurve, with a sicky sweet sucking sound at the end, well, dunno what could be more stupid, so, again, true to the Spike legend come what may.

He looked at the boy in the shower, really looked, past the barbed wire in the eyes, at the goofy lovable geek who was always trying to make everyone laugh, because then it would be happening because he wanted it, not because they thought he was laughable. Yeah, Spike could see where you might think that. It had its own brand of pathetic stereotype to it, and God knew, he'd picked at it enough in the past himself, targeting exactly what would make Xander bleed, and poking at it with a big pointy stick, just to see him jump and squirm. The temptation was still there--but now there was the sick feeling at the mere idea, as well.

Beyond the post-high-school geek, which would never completely die away, there was a dark, screwed-up soul that just begged to be twisted even more, or maybe smoothed until it came out straight. A bloody white knight, too, ready to sacrifice himself for his friends, but smart enough to be scared shitless of whatever it was he was doing. There was also a bright, inquisitive spark, a fiendish sense of humor, and a shaking cold heat that had just about knocked Spike to the ground when they touched. Oh, and touches. Little tentative touches, like Xander was shocked by his own curiosity--and Spike had finally stopped him only because it was too much. Way out of control. About like William the Bloody right now. Which was, Spike had finally got through his own thick head, a good thing.

Totally mentally and emotionally fucked, that's me! A couple thousand fries short of a Happy Meal, and proud of it, mate. I love Xander Harris. Oi! Little voices! Take that, roll it, smoke it, and shove it up your collective arse. Which, I suppose, would be mine, so… right, interesting image. Work with it another time. Now, telling him about it, that's well over the line into suicidal, which, let's check-- anybody in there want to dust himself anymore? Eh? No, didn't think so.

But to say it to himself, well, it was that easy. Easy as letting go his hold on a sanity that never was all it was talked up to be. He could think it, roll it over silently on his tongue and decide it sounded right, try to figure out what he was going to do about it-- all without giving a tinker's damn whether the undead Sybil-ettes in his brain decided to nag him into next week or not. See, there's nothing you lot can throw at me anymore, that I can't laugh off. I'm Spike, and I'm a raving nutter, and yee-bloody-haw! ...Note to self-- do not watch "Dukes of Hazzard" repeats on TNN again, no matter how short the cut-offs are.

Now, to try to fix whatever it was he'd buggered up, if he could.

 

*****

 

"It shocked the hell out of me, I'll tell you. Er, not the being demented part, already knew that--the caring whether you buy it or not. But I do. It's a laugh, innit? You shouldn't trust me, but, and God knows why, you can. So, as I said, I'm a loony, do I get my questions now?"

"No." Was he losing his touch? Spike couldn't even begin to gauge the expression on that water-rivuleted face, with its dark brows scrunched inward over narrowed eyes. Reassured? Disgusted? Disbelieving? Getting in radio signals from the Outer Hebrides on his dental work?

"Oh...Fine, take all the fun out of it. " He really needed a cig. Or some more chocolate. Or a good shag. Or all three. "I'm not taking the piss because you didn't do anything for me to make fun of. In other words, yessss, " and he tried to give the word the same hissing sibilance that Xander had earlier, just for dramatic effect, but his heart was hardly in it, "...it was a bloody compliment. Happy?"

"Um...confused?" The boy finally raised his chin from his hands, wiped his face, which was an utterly useless gesture as the water poured over it once more, and leaned his head back against the shower wall. "What was a compliment?"

Spike rolled his eyes. "Fishing for it, now?" The look he got for that was pure Xander: 'I don't know what the hell you're talking about, but I'm sure it makes me look pathetic somehow...' He shook his head. "No, you really don't get it, do you."

"Xander Harris, boy genius, comprehends all. But please enlighten Idiot Jed, who lives in my head, 'cause he's a little clueless."

"That was a compliment, as in 'Thank you, that was nice, I enjoyed it.' Quite a bit, actually. Are you insecure enough to need me to tell you in detail exactly how much, or do I get to keep a tiny shred of my own dignity, assuming I have any left? " Willow-babble was apparently catching, and if Spike wasn't careful, he'd be spilling things he didn't want to spill...like...suicidal sicky sucking sound things.

Silence. Oh, but the face. The face wasn't I-detest-myself-face, or duh-face, or kick-me-now face. No smile, but there was something about the eyes. Something in the black-lashed, dark brown, blinking away the water...eyes. Something akin to wonder. Which was, as Spike had previously pointed out to himself, dangerous as all hell. Because it looked so good. And I love to live dangerously, don't I?

"Do I get my questions now, brat?" A nod. A narrowing of the eyes again. Preparing for the worst. How long is it gonna take to fix you, boy? How long before you stop giving me that look?

"Right, One, and you actually owe me this one anyway, but what the heck--I'll throw you a freebie. What did I say that set you off in the first place? Inquiring minds wanna know. And don't give me any more crap, please, or I'll be an astoundingly shaggable corpsicle before this conversation's over."

"This is a conversation?" Xander asked, and there it was. An actual honest-to-whoever smile. Pretty weak, but there, all the same. "I thought it was a home invasion. Somebody needs to tell me these things. I never get the memos."

Two can play at the stern silence game, although not very well when one of them wants to stand up and do the naked vampire happy dance (which is much more manly and dignified than the name implies, and involves a reasonable amount of chest-beating and growling...), probably slipping on the wet floor, falling and breaking his neck... Spike settled for a Rupert Giles mock-glare, patent pending. He was rewarded.

"Well, 'It's forgotten...' probably had a little to do with it." Hesitantly, as if he still thought Spike was going to tear strips off him.

"I was giving you a choice, luv."

"Funny, 'cause from shower-boy's perspective, you were telling me that you wouldn't mind forgetting it."

Oh… that was it. Happy twisted vampire dance. Boy's hurt 'cos he thought I didn't want him. Which means he really does want me. What do we say to that, then? Not ever the truth, right? Hey, it's just crazy enough…

"Did I say that? 'Cos I don't remember hearing m'self say that. Did you hit me on the head when I wasn't looking? I doubt I'd have noticed it at the time, because I think I might've been just a little distracted watchin' you lick chocolate goo stuff off your lips. To my knowledge, though, I said you could forget about it. Didn't say I would... or could."

He held up one finger, half to hold off any extrapolation Xander might ask for on that one, and half because he was ticking off the list. "That's one. Number Two-- you trust me. Sort of. Right, demented, like everything else about you. So what was all that shit last night about me trying to kill you? Shoving the vampire version of bug repellant in my face and knocking me arse over tit down the stairs? The other thing I smelled on you was fear. Stronger than the damned garlic."

Okay, now there was an identifiable Xander-face. Sheepish, can't-believe-I-did-that-face. God, the list was getting long.

"Hormones?"

"Eh? Come again?" Hopefully? Today?

"Those things that teenage guys have instead of brain cells? I mean, how was I supposed to be able to tell the difference between enraged vampire and horny vampire? Do you guys have a user's manual or something?" Beat.... "I mean, that was horny vampire, right?" And there was the laugh in his voice. Back from the great beyond.

Spike laughed out loud. "Oh, hell yeah. Remember what I told you about blood and chocolate?"

"I seem to vaguely recall sounds coming out of your mouth on Friday night, yeah."

"Complete and utter shite. Vampire Viagra, my arse. You ever met a vampire looked like he needed any encouragement? Blood's blood. Tastes great, less filling. Not saying it can't be...erotic...but that's just your general vampy good times."

"Um, your point, if indeed you have one?" Concentration. Maybe even a little interest in vampy good times?

"Chocolate. Brown stuff, tastes like silk feels. Sort of explodes on your tongue and slides all the way down your throat, straight into your blood... feels like you're swimming in it if you run your tongue round the inside of your mouth, and you just sort of melt into this place that's dark, and warm, and sweet, and you stay there, just drowning in it. 'Til the sugar high kicks in, of course. And then you want to kick something, kill something, or shag something. Depending on how much you ate. Two pound bags full of it, in my case. Spike's personal downfall. Not, as I said, as if I need a lot of encouragement."

Xander stared at him, eyes popping, then burst into laughter. Rolling on the floor type laughter, which, since he was already pretty much on the floor, provided an excellent and most entertaining view for Spike. And revealed that Spike had picked just the right location when he'd covertly made use of the temporary tattoo he found in Xander's grocery bag last night. Winnie the Pooh, allegedly purchased while trying to get a different one for the little red witch. Priceless. Time was, like about an hour ago, he would've been vaguely offended by being the object of your basic laughing-my-arse-off-at-you moment, but that was the old Spike, and this was the new, improved, completely deranged Spike, who was just glad to see the boy-man in front of him laughing. At anything.

Great shuddering gasps of air, slowing down, and finally Xander sat back up, obviously realized he was completely naked And how distracted was he that he didn't before, eh? and had just been putting on a free floor show for a vampire audience of one. Smiled wryly. Gulped a few more times, and shrugged.

"Sorry... first, if you want to chip in on the rent and the Fluff n' Fold isn't your kinda gig, I know for a fact there's an opening at the 1-900-HOT-NITE phone sex line. Don't drop my name as a reference, though."

Spike smirked. Couldn't help it. Damn right, I have a sexy voice. Too sexy for this sheet, anyway.

"Second, it's just my luck that my first meeting of Chocoholics Anonymous would be held in my bathroom, and consist of a naked me and a mostly naked vampire. Hi, I'm Xander."

Spike shook his head. Smiled. And the correct reply was? Oh yeah. "Hi, Xander."

"I'm a chocoholic. I think of chocolate while I'm at work, when I'm in a bad place, and it makes everything a little easier. I think about how it smells when you first get it out of the package, about how if you melt it, it gets all gooey and feels like it's actually sinking into your tongue, like you'll have a chocolate flavored tongue from now on, everything'll taste like chocolate. Chocolate air, chocolate…lips…If I don't wanna think about anything at all, a candy bar, a Hershey's kiss, a cup of hot cocoa, and I'm gone, lost, anywhere but here. And…last night, I had sex with a guy, not to mention a dead guy, not to mention a dead evil guy who hates me, and I liked it, and it didn't have a damn thing to do with the chocolate." His voice got softer at the end, with a hint of resignation.

"And they fired you because?" Spike asked with a lifted eyebrow. Because that little speech had certainly done something for him. The idiots didn't know what they were missing.

Embarrassed look again. "They took one look at me and got the wrong idea. Or maybe the right one, come to think of it. Sink or swim tryouts, they stick me in a room full of other guys with phones. Here I am waiting for Helen the lovelorn librarian to ring my line and I get Hank, the Texas trucker, on a long haul, drivin' east and lookin' for love in all the wrong places. The stuttering, and the babbling, and the running from the room probably weren't good career moves, on reflection. And the truth of that story has never before been uttered…" he intoned.

Spike twisted his mouth around, trying to keep it closed. Bit like sucking on a lemon. I will not laugh. I won't.

"It's okay. You can laugh. Really." Xander smiled at him, and there it really was. The one that hurt his eyes. The one that made him admit without a qualm, in his new, proud-to-be-insane-brain, that it hadn't had a damn thing to do with the chocolate for him, either.

He laughed, and it was pure, and easy, and it tasted like chocolate silk. Finally he put up two fingers.

"Same to you, Spike," Xander replied, mock-huffily, flipping him the American one-finger-salute.

Spike looked at his hand. Grimaced. "No, then they'd be facing the other way, luv, but at least you're getting the pattern-recognition thing down. This means two questions answered, and time for the third."

"Which is?"

How pathetic and small could he make himself look, now? He plucked at the utterly sodden sheet that was tangled around his lower body and frankly turning him into one very cold dead guy, and answered, in his best Spike wheedle, "Can I come in there? I'm freezing!"

Now he was being given the once-over. What, you don't want a gorgeous naked blond in your shower? What kind of man are you?

"You'd better hurry up. I don't think there's much hot water left."

You've never seen a vampire move faster. Crawling over the sill of the shower and kicking the soaking sheets across the floor as he did it. Pulling the warm body before him up, to lean against the shower wall. Running his hands though the dripping dark curls that fell in Xander's face. Standing under the needling spray, putting his mouth everywhere he could reach. The hollow of the throat, kissing across the veins, feeling the blood that pumped beneath the skin. Lips, nibbling here and there. Cheeks, nose, earlobe, and, if he stood on tiptoe, which he was perfectly willing to do, forehead. Strong arms, for a human, wrapping around him, running over his back, down to cup his arse-cheeks, and then annoyingly, letting go, but sliding sweetly back up. Fingers up and down his neck, grabbing him by his own now-drenched hair and pulling him close for a long, hard, and very wet kiss.

Breaking, to raise two fingers again. "See, palm out, two fingers, means two things. One, I don't hate you, and two, if it was just the chocolate, I'd have been gone the minute the sun went down."

Xander pulled him closer again, bending down a bit. Forehead to forehead. Nose to nose. Brown eyes to blue. "Actually, it's a peace sign. If you want to get technical about it. But I don't."

"Good. And for future reference…" Spike trailed off, feeding him the line…

"Yeah?"

"That was the painfully awkward conversation."

And of course, that was also the moment the hot water chose to run out. See what you get for sitting on the floor and psychoanalyzing?

 

*****

 

Freezing cold water couldn't do a hell of a lot to dampen Spike's mood, but physiology is physiology, even warped vampire physiology, and besides, he hated being cold.

So, cursing fluently in Ghabresh, a language in which he only knew how to curse, he dragged Xander out of the slippery bathroom, not even allowing the boy to pick up his robe, which wouldn't have helped a bit, since it, too, was sopping wet where it lay on the floor. No time for towels. By the time he'd have found a clean towel that hadn't been hit by the water spraying out the open shower door, he could've been marketed as frozen-vamp-on-a-stick. If he'd had a stick. Other than the obvious.

Murphy's Law said that either a Harris or a Scooby would have slipped into the basement while they were sequestered in the bathroom. There they'd be, two naked, freezing, waterlogged men, alternately cursing and laughing, tumbling out of the shower and into the harsh light of day, to coin a phrase. But Murphy must have been still asleep, like any sane bastard, because they were alone when Spike zoomed under the covers and heard the bedsprings give an ominous creak… like the thing was about to finally give up the ghost.

"You really don't like to be cold, do you?" Xander laughed. Spike scowled at him from where he half-reclined, cocooned in not one, but two blankets, one of which he'd yanked from the top of the dryer on the way to the bed. Xander, meanwhile, sat Indian-style on the red recliner, wrapped in yet another blanket.

"Yes, I really don't like to be cold. Least not naked and cold. Warm-blooded bugger, " Spike muttered sarcastically. Gave it his best seductive grin. "You could come over here and do something about that, selfish git."

"Nope." Xander grinned back. Which was heartening, but confusing.

"Nope?" Spike repeated, mocking the Yank accent badly, as usual.

"Nope. We're gonna wait for the water heater to fill up again, and then we're gonna finish what we started."

Score! Demented vampire: six million points, opposing team, whoever they might be: squat. "And that'll be how long?"

" 'Bout an hour. Give or take."

An hour? Sixty bloody minutes???? Thirty-six hundred seconds? "And we do what 'til then?"

Xander got up from the chair, pulling the blanket tightly around himself. "I'm so glad you asked." He walked over to the table where the plate of baked goods still lay, and picked up the last chocolate donut, returning with it to the side of the bed.

"You are going to eat this donut. I am going to sit in that chair, and watch you eat this donut. If you're very talented, you should be able to make it last at least, oh, fifteen or twenty minutes. If you behave, I'll entertain you while you do it." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Well, he was probably trying to be suggestive, though it mostly came over as Groucho Marx. "If you don't, I get out the Sock Puppet of Love, and reenact my first date with Cordelia for you. Complete with fashion tips. And a step by step description of how to locate various parts of a woman's anatomy while locked in a dark broom closet. And the choice quotes you get to hear when you choose incorrectly." He held out the donut, and Spike carefully took it from him, their fingers touching for a moment.

"Was that the threat, or the entertainment?" Spike laughed, gazing at the gooey item in his hand, then back at the grinning face above him. "If that was the threat, what do you do for entertainment? And don't say the Lambada."

"Eat the donut, English Boy. The entertainment is… I read you the comics."

"So let me get this straight: we wait for the water to get hot again so we can go shag in the shower, I eat a donut, you read the Sunday comics out loud?"

"Well, if you want to boil a complex thought down to its simplest possible form. But I do funny voices, too."

 

*****

 

And so he did. Spike sat up in the bed, wrapped up in as many layers of covering as he could find, eating a chocolate donut that was actually stickier than the last one, and doing it as slowly as inhumanly possible. Tiny, tiny bites. Dropping chocolate sprinkles all over himself, and smearing icing the devil only knew where. Xander sat on the chair, watched him intently, and in between glances, read the comics out loud, all six pages of them. Peanuts. Doonesbury. Mallard bloody Fillmore. Even "Mary Worth," in a truly creditable nosy old lady voice. When he got around to "Fred Bassett" and did the dog's voice in a fractured parody of Giles' accent, Spike almost choked on what was left of the donut. Which was pretty much a tiny piece of mushy icing-and-crumbs.

He began to lick a chocolate-smeared finger, and Xander looked up sharply from the last page. "Oh no you don't. Nobody said you got to bogart the frosting, blondie. " Tossing down the paper and rising from the chair, shedding his blanket like an unwanted second skin, he did a sort of predatory crawl up the bed that Spike hadn't seen done so neatly since, well, himself. Not that Spike was vain, or anything. Just wondering where this boy had learned all his new tricks. Especially since the journey ended with him lying comfortably on top of Spike, looking into his eyes.

"This was sort of the point of the whole exercise." And he picked up Spike's left hand Warm fingers, nice. and brought it to his mouth, slooooowly sucking the chocolate from each finger. Warm mouth, tongue encircling Spike's index finger, wet, soft, faster, harder. Prompting extremely entertaining thoughts about what that mouth and tongue might be able to get up to elsewhere. Licking streaks from the back of Spike's hand, tickling the pale skin with the tip of that talented tongue. He placed little wet, warm kisses in Spike's palm, and closed it up on them with his own hand, as if to trap them there. Somewhere under the blankets, Spike wasn't feeling very cold anymore. Not cold at all. Xander started on the other hand, pinning the clean one down to the pillow with surprising fierceness.

By the time both of his hands were bolted to the pillow, and Xander had moved on to licking frosting from the corners of Spike's mouth, the vampire was reasonably sure the youngster was possessed. Because where had this warmly controlling personality been hiding? Where had this flaring heat been generated? Surely not inside the achingly defensive child he'd just spent the better part of an hour with, who had to be cajoled into accepting the fact that not only had he made love to a man last night, he'd enjoyed it. Enjoyed Spike. This was someone else. This man knew what he wanted, and was taking it. Maybe a little hesitantly, compared to other lovers Spike could name, who had always taken everything he was willing to give, and then some, but… still, Xander was in control. Of himself, and very possibly of Spike.

It was odd. It was undeniably pleasurable, and the moves… as Xander raised his head up to give the older man an unbelievably seductive stare, Spike got it. The moves were familiar. Because this was the first time he'd looked into a mirror and seen himself in over a hundred years. Me! He's doing me! The little… And he smiled. Laughed. What else could he do?

"You ballsy little shit. Using my own moves on me and thinking I wouldn't recognize 'em…" Mouth covered by a rough kiss, he could only laugh again, before his tongue got busy with other activities, like scraping and stabbing, and sliding, and stroking, and other fun "S" words. There was a war on, was there? But then it slowed down, to a concentrated sucking at his bottom lip, as if Xander's whole being were focussed on just enjoying that one tiny part of him, until he'd got it completely memorized. Finally, with a nip that almost, almost drew blood, and sent sparks racing around Spike's nerves Gonna have to teach this one that pain can be a good thing...oh, how long has it been?, Xander pulled his mouth away. Smiled, half-shy, half-cocky.

"You like? Because I do other impressions, too, but I don't think Milton Berle would be appropriate here."

"You're demented." whispered Spike, proudly, happily. And the little psycho's all mine!

"Yup. Depraved. Deprived. Delirious. Stop me any time, now." He wriggled a bit, invoking sensations that Spike had no intention of stopping.

"Delicious…"

"Oh, I like that. How about… oh, help me out, here. I wasn't exactly the S.A.T. king."

"Nummy. That was a synonym. You reckon that water's hot yet?"

Xander shook his head. "Bout five more minutes, I'd say. What'll we do for five minutes?"

"Not what you were just doing, if you want there to be anything left to do in the shower!"

"Right. Umm…how 'bout them Broncos?"

The vampire snorted. "There's a reason I told you I didn't want the sports pages. American football…"

"Okay…how 'bout them outdated musical groups?" Xander tried, pointing at the poster on the wall above the bed, the one thing that Spike had contributed to the otherwise depressing décor. "And I use 'music' in the loosest possible sense of the term…"

Spike glared at him. "Right, first, don't go there. Second, not outdated."

"Excuse me if this word has gotten familiar over the past few months, but -- huh?"

"Sex Pistols in '66. That's not a tour poster, twit. It's an L.A. club band. Sort of a tribute thing, but their gig is they do covers of soppy sixties songs, and punk 'em up Pistols-style. Totally twisted, and not bad. 'Course, it's a bit of a head trip to see 'em--their lead singer looks like Johnny Rotten and sounds like Sid--but it makes for some good fun after a long afternoon of watching someone shove hot pokers in your Sire. The Pistols, you uncultured gimboid, didn't hit the scene 'til seventy-six. When you were…right, still a twinkle in your sod of a father's eye. And you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about."

"No, but keep it up. I like hearing you talk."

Right, entering smug-mode. No. Bad! Down, smug-mode. Sit. Heel.

"Which is why you tell me to shut up at every available opportunity."

The smirking face above him lowered itself to his. My smirk--who said you could pinch it?

"Mmmm. Yeah. Shut up."

A long kiss later, and: "So. Angel. Hot pokers. Tell me more."

Spike chortled. "I knew I liked you. Think the water's hot yet?"

"One way to find out."

*****

In the bathroom again, and catching sight of Xander in the full-length mirror on the back of the door, Spike just had to play. Pulling a naked Xander back against him, he looked into the mirror. Nice view. Of Xander, of course.

"And that's… 'wiggins' suddenly seems too high-school for words. 'Disconcerting" ? No, too Giles." Xander commented, looking at himself alone in the mirror. " And so not a name I ever meant to hear while standing naked in front of a mirror. Also, not usually your 'naked in front of the mirror' kind of guy. More of a 'naked under your clothes where nobody can see you, least of all yourself' type. "

"That explains your taste in clothes…" Spike snarled softly in his ear, lazily stroking Xander's left nipple. "Well, no, it doesn't really. Maybe complete blindness… anyway, the view's pretty good from here."

"Yeah, but you're not in it." A bit disappointedly.

"Sure I am…" Spike whispered, grinning diabolically. He ran his hands slowly over Xander's chest, enjoying the slide across the firm muscle beneath the skin. Gently tweaked both nipples at once, which got him a pleasant reward as his lover bucked back against him, pressing his buttocks against the vamp's twitching erection. Little look of surprise on the face in the mirror at that, but not necessarily unhappy surprise. Spike put his mouth against Xander's shoulder, and licked. Clean. A faint salty skin taste, but not strong, after having sat under the shower for so long. Sucked. Nibbled, just a little.

"Oral fixation much?" Xander hissed, obviously unable to tear his eyes away from the sight of himself in the mirror, being aroused by a phantom lover who felt all too real.

"I'm a vampire, pe… luv. It's pretty much a requirement. Not to say..." he nipped lightly at Xander's shoulder again,"...that it's just a professional interest..."

Brown eyes looked back straight at him, in the mirror. Wide mouth smiled, too damn shyly. "You can call me 'pet.' I…like it. I was just being a shit; happens, sometimes. Not that I mind the other, either."

And there was something uncomfortably wonderful about that. Demented, even. Spike all but purred. "Well, pet, I do know a few tricks that don't involve the mouth. Here's a nice party piece… haven't done this bit in a while…"

He ran his hands down the muscular torso, across the narrow hips, and down to the warm shaft that was already showing the effects of his ministrations. Clasped it in both hands. Massaged the skin, felt it harden even more under his fingers. Smirking, he played the game he'd had in mind. Made it his. Made it dance.

Xander, of course, was staring goggle-eyed into the mirror at his own member doing things by itself that it'd never got up to before. Visibly torn between sinking into complete psychotic bliss, and giggling hysterically at the sight of Xander Harris and his Amazing Dancing Penis...

Evil things. The little evil things that Spike could still get away with doing, that inspired no guilt whatsoever in his suddenly brood-prone brain... Like this: in his best Annoying-Little-Drunk-Man impersonation (think Ronnie Corbett on helium), he spoke for Xander's voiceless cock, moving it in time with the words.

"'Ello up there! Get me off this wanker, somebody! 'E's a bleedin' psycho. Spends most his young life doin' absolutely nothin' with me, and then this year starts stickin' me into every demon 'at walks by with a wiggle an' a wink. Bloody dangerous, I tell you!"

Giggling hysterically won, although Xander's body was still jerking softly in Spike's arms, with each movement of his trapped penis. "Well, not absolutely nothing. Just...not sharing with others. And that...is not what it would sound like..." he gasped in between snickers. "I'm a man. I have a manly dick!"

Well, it was doing its best to prove that assertion to Spike, as it grew hotter and harder in his hands. Ahh, nineteen year olds...This is too easy... Right then. Manly. Dropping his voice to femme-trying-to-sound-butch range. (Think John Inman answering the phone at Grace Brothers Department Store: 'Menswear...') Gruff. Masculine. Full of it.

"Er.. right. That's me. Manly. Anybody see a little blonde girl anywhere? 'Ow 'bout a redhead with enormous melons? On the prowl for female flesh, I am. Wait.. what's that? Naked vampire arse? Don't mind if I do!" Having finished his little morality play, Spike punctuated the last sentence by letting go of Xander's cock (which was doing a good job of standing upright on its own now) and grabbing the boy's hands, yanking them back to cup the aforementioned arse. Pressing the two of them even closer together.

The face in the mirror shook from side to side, unable to control the laughter, or much of anything else, judging from the shuddering of his body against Spike's. But he played along, squeezing Spike's lower cheeks firmly, then breaking free and stumbling forward.

"I'm deranged?" he wheezed. "Me? Get the hell in the shower, you Froot Loop, before you get cold again."

Spike chuckled dangerously. "No fear, pet. No fear."

Nonetheless, he turned, about to make for the shower, when Xander stopped him short with "And what the hell is that ?" in an aggrieved shout.

Spinning around, the first thing Spike noticed was probably not what Xander was asking about, but he had to play the game anyway. "Well, if you don't know..."

"That." Xander sighed exasperatedly, twisting himself round so that he could point in the mirror, back to the red and yellow tattoo emblazoned high on his left cheek.

The sight of that delicious arse, with the bear of very little brain playing on it…funny as hell. Erotic as hell. God, I wish I could see myself. Wonder how I look when I'm this turned on? Like the devil in blue jeans, somebody once said. Spike's inner demons warred over who got to come up with the best answer, and Snarky Voice Number Seventeen won the pool. In best BBC announcer English: "I believe his formal title is 'Mr. Sanders,' but I've been told he lets his intimates call him 'silly old bear.' "

"You are so dead!" --Well, obviously.

Xander pushed him unprotesting into the shower, turned the hot water on with a jerk, and shoved him under it. Yanked the curtain shut. Shoved him up against the tiled wall like a man possessed. More kissing. Which was always fine. Xander's hands in his hair, under the hot fall of water, pulling him tightly to the other man's face, hurting, just enough to feel good. Xander broke away with a gasp and reached for the shampoo hanging from the shower caddy. Eh? Something reddish and fruity-scented, and those hands were coming at his head again, this time to rub shampoo into his hair like the Demon Hairdresser of Fleet Street. Closing his eyes, Spike let the invisible fingers massage his scalp, and melted back against the wall. Goodbye, peanut butter! Hello, ecstasy. Touching. Things that walk the night, how he loved to be touched, to touch. To feel the spark and smooth of skin on skin. Warm on cool, under the hot water, in the steam. Sensation.

 

*****

 

Somewhere around the time Xander started rubbing the foam from the shampoo all over his body, Spike realized he really hadn't a clue what it was they were going to do in the shower. He wasn't about to try taking Xander, standing up on slick concrete, first time, with a chip in his skull that might decide to fry his brain at the least bit of an ache, no matter how pleasant. Wouldn't mind the other way round, again. Could be fun. He reached down to find wet curls even with his waistline, as Xander crouched down to lick across his stomach. Opened his eyes. Oh, nice view. I could get quite used to dark haired boys seen from that angle. Well, one dark haired boy. He reached down and tweaked a curl out of Xander's face, which got his lover looking up at him. A bit uncertain again.

"I know you said...next time..." and there was fear in that voice, and a bit of that white knight bravery, and Spike realized he was, in his own way, just as scared. He didn't want to hurt the boy, and he certainly didn't want to hurt himself, and it really just wasn't the time. The thought of him, of all people, playing nervous virgin in unison with his mercurial human lover was enough to raise a chuckle.

"Not in the shower, luv. Not the first time. Too athletic for this early on a Sunday morning, anyway. Maybe…another time, yeah? Soon." Then he leered, just a bit. "But if you want to do something else nice for me, well, I wouldn't say no. I mean, while you're down there, an' all."

Bit of your traditional Xander Harris embarrassment, and some more of that stuff from last night--uncertain of himself again. Doesn't know how to do it. Doesn't know if he'll get it right. Doesn't know if I'll be upset with him. Spike sighed. When was the last time he'd been with a virgin? Nineteen-oh-two? Twenty-six? When was the last time he'd cared about what his lover was feeling beyond the purely physical, aside from Dru? He pulled Xander up. Pushed him back against the other wall.

"Right. You've never done this before. Eventually I'll exhaust your list of those. Well, I'm sure you've had it done to you, but I'm guessing you weren't taking pointers at the time." Xander smiled slightly, and nodded. Yeah, I'll bet. Anya's got quite the little mouth on her. If she gives head as well as she bitches, I've got a lot to live up to. Figuratively speaking. He slid to his knees, using Xander's slick body as a precarious handhold. Took hold of the reddened cock before him, and brought it to his mouth. Gently licked the bulbous tip, tasting salt as it leaked from the slit, and was rewarded by a gasp of pleasure from Xander. "There really isn't a user's manual, y'know. No right or wrong answer."

"That's...what they said about essay questions, but I never did test well..." Xander babbled.

Spike chuckled. Thought about it, put his mouth completely over the tip of Xander's erection, and chuckled again. Oh, that got him a reaction. Licked around in a circle. Pulled off. "No grade, promise. Who would you take the reports home to, anyway? No, enthusiasm and creativity are pretty much welcome, and teeth..." he added, very, very gently grazing the top with his upper set, causing Xander to flatten against the wall with a little yip thrown in for good measure..."are allowed, but should be used sparingly."

In a voice about half a note higher than his normal speaking tone, Xander stammered..."Um, yeah...could you maybe not vamp out while you're doing that? No offense, but I don't think I want those teeth doing their thing on my...thing..."

Spike had to laugh. "I don't need the headache, thanks." He returned wholeheartedly to what he'd been doing, and soon the witty banter wasn't really an option, as he slowly engulfed the length of Xander's shaft with his mouth, moving up and down, taking in a little more each time. And they say there's no advantage in being a big-mouthed vampire... He could feel the boy's fingers twining loosely in his hair, as he made his way to the base, and slowly, trying his best not to smile, but not doing that good a job of it, took in the taut sac as well.

There was a definite advantage in not having to breathe. Xander was doing enough of it for the both of them, anyway. Spike moved his tongue, just a bit, tickling the underside of Xander's balls. Let them slip back out. Easily reacting to the expected thrust, twitch, thrust. Sucking for all he was worth, and not using the teeth. He'd made his point. What could be better than a mouthful of Xander Harris? Maybe a mouthful of Xander Harris coated in chocolate sauce, but this would do nicely. He could feel it coming, feel the boy's thrusts begin to strain into him, and he reached up blindly, grabbing Xander's hands on pure instinct. Wanting to be connected, touching, as Xander groaned loudly, and the semen came flooding into Spike's mouth, drowning him in hot, wet salt which he drank down like he'd been dying of thirst, until at last it stopped. And the hot rain of water continued to patter on his head.

He just knelt there for a moment, not letting go. Not with his hands, not with his mouth. Finally he allowed Xander's cock to slip slowly from his lips, licking off every bit of residue on the way out. Not blood, but close. Not chocolate, but almost better.

Not letting go of Xander's hands, he looked up. Smiled. The boy was blinking back down at him. Gobsmacked. Such a wonderfully descriptive term. Xander smiled back at Spike, after a few seconds. "Follow that, I'm supposed to?" Listened to himself. Shook his head, dousing Spike's face with water. "Yoda, I am?"

He pulled up on Spike's hands, and drew the vampire level with him, bringing his lips close. "You want to taste yourself, do you?" Spike whispered at him. "I don't blame you. You taste good, pet." The vampire smashed their mouths together, darting his flavor-filled tongue into Xander's mouth. Basting the boy in his own juices. Delicious. Beat hell out of the Slayer's Thanksgiving turkey...

"What do you think?" Spike said at last. "You game?" He snarled to punctuate the word, letting bumpy brow, amber eyes, sharp teeth flicker over his face and disappear. Testing, a bit, to see what would or wouldn't scare Xander, but also warning, reminding the human that this was what he held in his arms. And there was nothing bad. No fear. No shrinking back. Just a smile. The one that hurt his eyes.

"Oh, I'm game." Xander spun him around in a surprisingly quick move, so that Spike had his back to the wall, and Xander was doing a slow slide down Spike's body, rubbing at all sorts of interesting places on the way down. Spike leaned back against the wall, willing himself to relax. He wasn't a trembling virgin, by any stretch of the imagination, and the mere feeling of a lover taking his cock into willing fingers, rolling it... shouldn't be about to send him over the edge into no-vamp's-land.

The touch of soft lips, a moist tongue, on the tip of his shaft, gliding over the top, tracing patterns in slow spirals... shouldn't be driving all coherent thought from his mind. Time was, he could get a blow job and do the Times crossword puzzle in his head at the same time… Time was… time was moving at an entirely different rate, now. He could have written a letter home to his long-dead mum, if he ever cared to remember her name, all about the beautiful boy with whom he was undeniably sure he was in love, who was sucking his cock as if it was the only other object in the world besides the boy's own extremely kissable mouth. He could have signed it, love Will, bloody well don't wish you were here, and posted it, all in the time it took Xander Harris to breathe in though his nose and push his mouth an inch further down the length of Spike's penis.

That mouth…was sliding up again, and the tongue…was docking itself beneath the extra skin of Spike's uncircumcised cock, shifting it about in agonizingly slow circles… Bloody Hell! I didn't teach him that ! Full marks for creativity… "Xander…" The movement slowed down. "Nooo… don't stop. Just…yeah. Good. Do that." Nonsense. Gibberish. Very dignified, very British… very badass…Xander's mouth slid down again, quite far, enough to graze Spike's balls with the tip of his tongue. Spike wasn't expecting him to try the 'swallow you whole' trick, and he didn't. What he did do was very gently touch them with his teeth, just a pinprick of sharpness that had Spike reaching for a handhold on the wall and making little high-pitched sounds of complete madness. Anything so that he didn't either fall to the ground or grab Xander's head and smother his lover between his legs. Hell of a way to go. Disappointed and at the same time relieved when that sensation faded and Xander went back to pumping up and down, like any normal, non-demented human who happened to be sucking off a vampire.

Reaching the edge, and so close, so bloody close, and his eyes were shut, but he wanted them open, wanted to see the dark lashes on the light skin as Xander looked down at what he was doing. He saw spraying water, and wet, dark hair, and felt himself starting to completely let go, lose himself entirely to this human mystery at his feet. Body, heart… soul? Did he have a soul? He went on and on about Soul-Boy and what a ponce he was, but just because Spike's soul wasn't human, did that mean he didn't have one? If he did, he was transcendently positive at this moment that it belonged completely to Alexander Harris. Who had, while he was pondering the mysteries of the universe, begun softly to hum, a tune that might have been familiar if Spike weren't too busy thrusting forward, muttering intelligent things like "Yes…Dear God, yes, don't ever stop that…love…it…" At least he'd managed not to say the other. To say 'Love you.' And on E above middle C, he was exploding into Xander's mouth, wrapping his fingers in that dark hair, not pulling, just holding on for dear unlife until he'd given everything he had. Everything. Which his lover took, without ever once drawing back.

When he could think in English again, he stroked Xander's forehead. "Come here, you." Drew Xander up to taste himself in that unbelievable mouth. Salty and faintly coppery, and creamy, and warm as the hot water that was still hitting them could make the product of a room-temperature body. Looked into his eyes, which were searching for some sort of approval, or rejection. Spike smiled. A real, honest, genuine smile, the sort that tended to make him want to yak when he saw it on human faces, with a few exceptions. "What on the Hellmouth was that ?" he asked.

"Umm…"God Save the Queen' ? Well, actually, 'My Country 'Tis of Thee,' but I figured you couldn't hear the words anyway, so I'd be covered either way."

And Spike laughed as he soaped Xander's curls with the Watermelon-and-pineapple shampoo, and he laughed as he kissed the back of Xander's neck and he laughed as he slid down to run his hands over Xander's slim, suds-covered buttocks…and he said, finally, when he thought he could speak in his native tongue again, "Very patriotic. Very creative. You pass with flying colors. "

 

*****

 

In bed, at, oh, ten a.m., because he was tired. He wasn't supposed to even be awake. Xander bumbling around trying to pick up the various pieces of flotsam and jetsam that had accumulated over the weekend: empty candy wrappers, a pint bottle of long-gone cider, clothes and sheets and bathrobes that belonged either in the laundry or the trash, depending on how much they'd gotten in the way. Spike yawned. Bitched.

"What the hell are you doing?"

Xander looked up from where he was crouched on the floor, dabbing at a spot of chocolate peanut butter with an already sopping bedsheet. "Cleaning?"

"Who are you and what have you done with Xander Harris?" Spike asked sardonically. "You're demented. Come back to bed." He looked over at the red recliner next to the bed. If he read things right, it was just for sitting in, now. Unless they were invaded by the outside world.

Xander dropped the sheet and left it where it fell, returning to the bed, and Spike. "Yeah, don't know what came over me, there. Kinda like getting up at seven in the morning. You've seen me--I don't move 'til nature calls, if I can help it."

Spike lifted the blankets and pulled Xander down to the bed with a thump, yanking him close. "C'mere. I'm cold. Yeah, what the hell were you doing up?"

Xander shook his head. "I dunno. I think…I don't usually sleep that well." There was silence, as they both tried to decipher what that meant.

"What about you? I know damn well you weren't asleep when I came down the stairs. I could hear you muttering something about being invisible. Which, may I say, ain't all it's cracked up to be. Been there, done that."

Spike snickered. "I said that out loud? Yeah, that would've convinced your parents I was you, hiding under the covers."

"Yeah, point, but you should've been asleep. I didn't figure you'd wake up, that's why I thought I was covered to sneak off for some chow. Y'know, if this keeps up, your sleep-cycle's gonna be massively fucked."

"As long as I am too. Will it?" He stared hard at the dark, light, strange, familiar man in his arms. Boy. Human. Lover. Xander. Because it seemed like everything was riding on that question. More than the person who had to answer it would ever know. "And before we repeat a conversation that's as over as your fashion statement, I want it to. Do you?"

Xander leaned back against his chest. Lay his head down, pillowed on Spike's shoulder. Was silent. Reached for Spike's hand. Played with the fingers. Twined them in his own, and held them there, against his own chest. "Yeah. I'm demented. What can I say."

Spike kissed the top of that still-damp head, leaving his mouth there, tasting watermelon and pineapple. "Demented, alright. Delirious…deranged…possibly delightful…we'll see."

"Hey, no fair. You never answered why you were up at seven-thirty in the morning. Giant Vampire Lark."

"Bad dream," Spike answered, before he knew what he was saying. That wasn't for public consumption. What the hell?

Xander turned his head to look at his bedmate. "You? You dream?"

"Yeah--of vampire sheep." Huh-duh-huh face. "It's a Blade Runner joke. You're too young. Go to sleep."

Xander yawned. "Yeah, prob'ly should. Saw that movie, though. No sheep." He rolled over suddenly to face Spike, who was laying flat on his back. Unhesitatingly put an arm across Spike's chest, and slithered the other behind the vampire's neck, becoming a human pillow. A warm human pillow. Yawn. Head back on shoulder. Yawn. "Make you a deal."

"Hmm? What? All the Count Chocula I can eat and a no stake-age guarantee if I give you head in the shower every morning?"

"Okay, not…what I had in mind, but you just go right on making bluntness work for you there. No, I was gonna say…" Yawn. Snuggle. Yawn.

"What?' Softly. So as not to wake him if he really had fallen asleep. Not that Spike was all that far from it himself.

"No bad dreams. I'll stake yours if you'll bite mine."

Oh, dear God. Or whoever. What'll I do with you, eh? Spike let his head fall down to rest against Xander's. Blond against dark brown. Sun and shadow, sure, an old cliché, but which was which?

"Okay, pet. You're delirious, and you don't know what you're saying, but what the hell. Bite 'em up with my big vampire teeth, I will. Go to sleep."

" 'Kay."

And so they did, drifting off and sleeping deep into the afternoon. It was warm, and they were demented, and all in all, it had been a hell of a weekend. Spike, if he dreamed at all, didn't remember them, but he didn't wake alone.





6 Scoobysnacks

Warm night in the parking lot of the empty Sunnydale Drive-In Theatre:

"You, Spike, are one sick, twisted fuck," Xander Harris pronounced, gazing down at the gravel that was about three feet away from his face, and hoping he didn't come into intimate contact with it in the next few moments.

"Yeah, so, you have a problem with this?" Spike replied, taking a long drag on his cigarette.

"Well, not on principle, since you're also a pretty good sick twisted fuck, but it's been an hour, and we haven't seen a single demon, ghouly, ghostie, or thing that goes bump in the night. Except my face into your ass, and I'm suddenly thinking that was the entire point of this expedition, and I should just shut up now..." Xander trailed off.

Spike gave a pained, smoky sigh. "Are you having another 'Hate myself 'cos I'm fucking Spike and I'm pretty sure this makes me not only gay, but also extremely stupid...' moment? "

Xander giggled, and watched the gravel spin. "No, I'm having a 'Blood pooling in my head, if you don't put me down I'm gonna yak all over your boots' moment." Tonight on Channel 8 News: Neutered Vampire Hires Hit-Man To Kill Human Lover For Regurgitating Vast Amounts Of Count Chocula Onto His Best (only) Pair Of Doc Martens...

Spike grudgingly threw down his cigarette and hauled Xander back up over his leatherclad shoulder, until they were face to face, Xander swaying slightly on the uneven ground. The vampire steadied him with a firm hand. "Your idea, mate."

"No, my idea was that this time I actually do something, instead of just hiding behind a tree and watching you fight, like last night. As ideas go, not one of my most Xanderiffic, but what can I say. Senile dementia. The something I had in mind involved me coaxing soldier-Xander out of hiding, and looking all macho, though, not being dragged around the bad side of town as bait."

"There's a good side of town?" Spike asked in apparent surprise. "Anyway, not my fault you're such a nummy treat that all the demons want to come sniffing after you. Might as well use it to my advantage, though." He made as if to throw Xander back over his shoulder, and the human ducked. Stumbled slightly.

"Okay, dizziness, thy name is Xander. Maybe you could come up with a better solution than using me as Sack-of-Potatoes-Man?"

Spike shrugged. "We could always go back and clean up the kitchen."

Shudder. No thanks. "Um...no...just let me get my head cleared before you try that again."

The blonde grabbed him by the back of his neck, and hauled him close for a long, rough, menthol-flavored kiss.

"You're not helping here," Xander complained happily when he was finally released.

*****

The First Attempt:

Spike quietly began to disentangle himself from a still-sleeping Xander. The boy grumbled disjointedly. "Don't...hey, soft...come back."

Spike had to smile. He'd missed having somebody with a brain in his bed, even a demented, sleep-addled brain. Even if it wasn't actually his bed. Dru used to say the most entertaining things when she was half-awake...

He shook Xander's shoulder gently. "Xander...I'm getting up for a drink. You want anything?"

The body in his arms stirred. Opened liquid black eyes that held not one shred of real sleep in them. Grinned wickedly. Little faker. Big faker, actually, but he couldn't help thinking of Xander as smaller than himself, even though the human had a few inches on him in height, and a bit more than a stone in weight. Doesn't matter. He's a kid. A man, at times, but still a kid.

"Million bucks, decent car that I actually own, somebody to tell me why there's no word that rhymes with orange, the ability to mainline Ho-Ho's. Other than that, I'm good," Xander replied thoughtfully. Spike nodded. Slowly withdrew his arms from around the warm body, and rose from the bed. Padded naked over to the kitchen. Careless. Never had been ashamed of his own body. And he was never cold in the morning if he didn't wake up alone. Have a ball with that one, Dr. Freud. Let's talk about my abandonment issues over a nice cup of pig's blood. He pulled a packet of cold blood from the fridge, tossed it in the microwave, set it for fifty-five seconds, and sat down at the table.

"Time is it?" Xander asked, yawning. Spike glanced at his watch.

"Either eight-eighty-eight, or infinity to th' third power. Don't think this thing's waterproof, somehow." He shook it. "Don't make stolen goods like they used to."

"Infinity to the third power? When did you get all Einsteiny?" Xander laughed. "I thought you were Mister 'Kill First, Ponder Relativity While the Bodies Cool .' "

"What, I can't have facets?" Spike shrugged. "Anyway, three, two, one..." Beeep.... and his blood was warm, and the microwave clock said.. "Twelve-thirty."

He poured the blood into the mug he'd ended up nicking from Rupert's flat. 'Kiss the Librarian.' Not an unattractive proposition, on reflection, but not even worth comparing when he had a bedful of Xander at his disposal. Little flare of guilt, but he laughed it off. What? I'm a vampire! Fight, shag, take the piss, eat chocolate. That's my C.V. Just 'cos I've fallen in love with teenage snore-boy here, doesn't mean I can't think about kissin' the librarian.

"Hey bed-head... did you say there were more of those chocolate vampire crispies somewhere?" he called over to Xander, who was watching him from the bed, unmoving. Still waking up in there, no doubt, no matter how together he pretended to be. "I think you mentioned it somewhere in the middle of that epic speech about get the fuck out of my bathroom and go moisturize yourself to death, Spike..."

Xander smoothed his hair reflexively, and groaned. "And thank you for that, because I couldn't have gone another minute without another poignant reminder of my blossoming into womanhood yesterday... They're in the utility cupboard, behind the plunger. You remember-- the abode of chocolatey delights that you plundered while I was at Giles' place?"

Spike grimaced as he opened the cupboard door. "Plundering the abode of chocolatey delights? Sounds like a gay Mills and Boone romance." He withdrew the grocery bag from behind the plunger and the pile of gaffer tape, and peered inside. "Why Xander.... Six boxes? I didn't know you cared. I thank you from the bottom of my unbeating heart." He fluttered his eyelashes seductively.

It was Xander's turn to make a retching face. "First, eew. Second, Mills and who? Third...yeah. Well. Somebody or other convinced me they're a nummy treat."

"I'll cherish 'em forever. Er...Mills and Boone. The English equivalent of Harlequins. All soppy and overwritten.' Spike opened one box of Count Chocula appreciatively, shaking a handful of the crispies and little marshmallows into his mug of blood.

Xander sort of wheezed at him. Sounded suspiciously like laughter.

"What?"

"You read Harlequins?" He'd gone and got that 'I've got something on you...' look in his black eyes. Snapping. Dangerous. Really dangerous, this one, if he put his mind to it.

Spike crunched into his blood and cereal, and talked with his mouth full. "No, wanker, I don't read Harlequins. Dru did. Well, she made me read 'em to her. Total dreck. I always 'ad to add in some blood an' guts, though, or she'd pout."

Xander sat straight up. "Spike, you can't have those!"

"Blood an' guts? Yeah, chip. It hadn't slipped my mind. Reasonably acceptable substitute, though. " He returned to happily crunching, then looked up, brow furrowing in suspicion. "Oh, now...You're takin' my crunchies away again? You just want another kiss, or what? Cos' if you get your arse over here, you're welcome to it."

*****

Xander wasn't about to turn down the offer, so he grabbed his now-clean robe from where it lay on the recliner, slipped it on, and made his way over to where Spike was sitting. The vampire looked completely...well, edible. Much the way he had on Friday night, but without the extreme discombobulation factor that had sent Xander scurrying for the safety of his bed after their first kiss. Well, also there's the no-clothes factor, and why am I not panicking at that thought? Welcome to the strange world that is Xander's post-Spike brain. So...this is the way it works. I get two and a half days of complete angst, and now free vampire kisses whenever I want 'em? He grinned cheerfully. Works for me! At least for the moment. While he was high on his own insanity.

He walked around behind Spike, and leaned down. Right. This is me, kissing the vampire. Hello, vampire, are you gonna turn around, or what? I'm showing extreme emotional stability right now; the least you can do is play along. Spike turned, alright, whipping his face around with a very toothy grin. Meaning to scare Xander, no doubt, throw a little fun into the morning. Afternoon. It did, for a minute. Vampire! Vampire in my kitchen! But it was just Spike. And...how was Xander going to tell him?

Apparently the uncontrollable snickering fit did the job for him. Spike frowned. "What? You're supposed to be scared, y'know. You could at least scream like a girl or somethin'."

"Yeah...I know that's traditional with me, but...Spike, you have a marshmallow stuck on your fang." And before he really knew what he was doing, he'd leaned down and was brushing the vampire's fang-filled mouth with his own, sticking out his tongue and licking the little ghost-shaped marshmallow from Spike's terribly sharp tooth. Not cutting himself...just. Tasting, again, that first strange combination of blood and chocolate that had started to send him over the edge. Odd. Sweet and coppery at the same time. He lapped at Spike's lips, the corners of his mouth, tasting salt and chocolate and vampire. Spike carefully extended his own tongue to chase Xander's around the outside of his mouth. Finally Xander drew back, just a little afraid he'd cut himself on those sharp teeth, but somehow not afraid of the face that held them.

Spike grinned again, and morphed back into human face. "Stones, boy. I'll grant you that. You're not scared of me at all, are you? And when did pathetic toothless vampire start considering that a good thing?"

"I'm terrified of you," Xander answered truthfully. "But it doesn't have anything to do with which face you're wearing." That admission had snuck its way up from somewhere in his dimly lit half-awake mind, before he could close his lips over it. I'm terrified of...yeah, whatever. Feeling something for you that I don't know how to make an oh-so-clever snappy remark about. Okay, even Xanderspeak fails me. I officially suck today. Can I go back to bed?

Spike scratched his chin. "I can live with that. So to speak. So how'd you like your second helping of pig's blood?"

Xander went off somewhere. Pig's blood. Blood and chocolate. But the blood itself...familiar. Yeah, ick factor, but also familiar... when he'd been something wild and dangerous that he didn't really want to remember. "Third."

"Eh? You been sneakin' around behind my back with the ponce?" Spike grabbed the lapels of his bathrobe playfully.

What? Angel? Sneakin' around with Angel? Big cave-vamp Angel, whom he'd hated since the minute he first saw the drool fall from Buffy's perfectly-shaped lips to land sparkling on her hundred dollar shoes? Not a chance. Well, okay, maybe a little chance, but not one that he'd ever admit to, even under threat of being forced to watch Masterpiece Theatre while Cordelia Chase gave him a Cosmopolitan makeover.

"Yeah, while you were busy doing laundry. Dipshit." He smacked the vampire lightly on the head. Spike just looked at him. And looked at him. "Oh, fine. I...um...ateapigonce," he blurted out.

"You what?" Spike laughed.

"I...ate a pig."

Spike goggled at him. "Er...in a blanket?"

"In a cage. It was the school mascot."

Spike seemed to be torn between shock and amusement. "Tough day with the Slayer, needed to unwind?" he finally asked.

" I was possessed by a hyena at the time."

"You never cease to amaze me. Real wild man, you." Spike pushed his chair away from the table, and yanked Xander down onto his lap.

Whoa, vampiric strength, and whoa, sitting on the lap of a naked vampire, and hello, Spike's spike. Can we say disconcerting? No, probably not. We might manage...bleurgh, if we concentrated really hard.

"Um... Spike? I'm sitting on your lap?"

"Yeah, I know, pet. I put you there. Short term memory's just fine."

"Isn't that a bit..."

Spike sniffed. "What? Girly? Oh, grow up, Xander."

He slipped his arm carefully around the vampire's neck. "I kinda thought I was. Learn somethin' new every day."

Spike tapped him on the nose with his spoon. "Now, what was that about takin' my crispies away again?"

*****

The night was getting warmer, or was it just Spike?

He dragged Xander across the parking lot by the arm, towards the long-defunct outdoor concession counter. He had a plan. It was a good plan. Smart. Well-thought out. It involved screwing Xander silly, and if that worked out, doing it again. Some watching, not a lot of waiting, and if his legs started to cramp, he figured he could put up with it. Item One: Lack of patience. The downfall of many an otherwise stone-scary demon. That, and ticklish shins. God help us poor bastards with ticklish shins.

"What're we doing, Spike?"

"Was that a relationship question, as in 'Spike, why am I having these strange feelings? Spike, do you think we should get a cat?" he replied sardonically, now pushing the mortal back against the metal and Plexiglas counter.

Xander cracked up. "Oh yeah. A cat named...no, Miss Kitty Fantastico's already taken. You'd eat it if we named it Fluffy. Hmm..."

"Can't eat it. No fuckin' living creature. Wouldn't eat a cat, anyway. Too small, and besides, we've got a professional courtesy thing goin' on." He purred briefly, and Xander's eyes widened. Didn't know I could do that, did you, innocent child....I've got a list of things to try out on you, I do.

"Okay... how about...Mr. Whiskers?" Spike shook his head and shut the boy up with a kiss. Pinched Xander's left nipple lightly through the fabric of the black t-shirt he'd thrown on before they left the basement. Spike's black t-shirt, which made it nicely tight. Gotta get him some more black. Black looks good on him. Hell, black looks good on everybody. 'Cept the poof. Well, in all fairness... Okay, even the poof. Though he's the only vampire I'd say needs to wear less black...

"Spike, I meant what are we doing making out in the middle of a burned-out drive-in when we're supposedly looking for demons for you to beat up?" Xander pushed him back, breathing in little gasps. Still half-laughing.

"I have a plan." A bit defensively.

"Oh goody. Could we maybe try to take over the world tomorrow night, Brain? Your plans always seem to end up with me getting hit over the head with a microscope." Xander rubbed his fingers through dark curls, as if reliving a year-and-a-half-old head trauma. Spike pulled his hand away and kissed the spot.

"There-- all better? Can't take over the world tomorrow night. We're going to the bloody Watcher's place to play party games, remember?"

 

*****

The Second Attempt:

"No, Spike, you can have that box. It's all yours."

"I thought they were all mine..." the vampire wheedled. "Don't you love me anymore, Xander?"

Possibly. Shit. And so not about to share that little fact with you. Big greedy bleach-head. "Who said I loved you to begin with, whiny-ass?" Still sitting on Spike's lap, so he could feel the chuckles vibrating though the body beneath him and into his own.

"Well, you bought me six boxes of Count Chocula. And that was before the whole peanut-butter-and-testosterone episode. Nothin' says love like seventy-eight ounces of chocolate and refined sugar...Admit it. You wanted my extremely shaggable whiny vampire arse." Cocky bastard. Cocky...right...bastard.

"Maybe," Xander retorted. Two could play at that game. "Yeah, I bought 'em all for you. Anything to shut you up. But I kinda got caught with six boxes of chocolate cereal in my cart, and rather than tell Anya that I wanted your vaguely shaggable whiny vampire ass, if in fact I did, I decided to go with 'Count Chocula Treats.' "

Spike frowned. "Anya? As in your ex-demon ex? Flitty little chit who dumped you 'cos you don't love her?"

Xander shrugged. "She's right. I don't. Well, not that way." Yeah, that way's reserved for merciless killers who sit naked on my folding furniture with me in their lap...I gotta stop this thinking crap.

"What were you doin' talkin' to 'er in the grocery store? She track you down to twist the knife or somethin' ?"

What was that... concern? From Spike? Like...an interest in the condition of Xander Harris' completely fucked-up psyche? Way disturbing.

Sex, that he could deal with. Was finding that he wanted to deal with it more and more. He'd woken from their afternoon sleep on Sunday to find Spike's hands slowly making their way down his back, massaging him gently, then more firmly, and heading further south... A nice way to wake up. And where Spike put his hands next...calling it 'nice' was like saying that Spike was 'attractive'. Just lacked all the subtle nuances.

And, strangely, he was learning to deal with the concept of Spike in the same sentence as...companionship. Like last night, when Spike had finally found his leather duster, where it was hidden in plain sight on the coat rack, and had been about to walk out the door to go whale on whatever nasty thing he could scare out of hiding. Xander had sat quietly in the red recliner, flipping though an old issue of "X-Men" and not looking at Spike.

Sex was one thing. Even really, really really... good sex. Hell, he'd had that with Anya, at least at one point. But what he seemed to be having with Spike... it was something different. And it scared him a bit. And the fact that it only scared him a bit...scared him a lot. And the fact that it was a good bet that Spike was only in it for the sex, and maybe the chance to rag on him about his taste in clothes... So anyway, he'd pretended to read a comic book, and waited for Spike to leave. Which he seemed to be about to do. Then he'd suddenly turned at the foot of the stairs, standing out against the darkness in the stairwell like a bleached-out James Dean, almost glowing under Xander's 'I'm not really looking at you' glance. He'd cocked his head sideways in just that...Spike way, and shouted back into the room, "Hey-- you coming with, or what?"

So... concern. About Anya. Or maybe Spike was just bored. Spike was dangerous when he was bored.

"No. No knife-twisting. It's...complicated. She really wants to do this 'just friends' thing. Which I can't say I've ever seen work, exactly, but then, my previous experience with long-term relationships has consisted of...well, one, that I fucked up completely. And you're turning me into a potty-mouth."

"Oooh... the F-word. Call the Watcher's Council. You're off the Slayerette list, old son. So you told the chippie you were gonna make nummy treats with my cereal. So what?"

"So she's gonna be at Giles' tomorrow night, for this weird little research hootenanny that Willow and Giles cooked up. To which you're invited, by the way. And she'll be expecting Count Chocula treats. " Xander absently picked up the box from the table and looked at the back. Somewhere within, there was allegedly a set of Scooby Doo stickers. Be still my heart.

"To which I'm invited?" Spike repeated in disbelief. "Was Rupert by any chance smoking something from the little drawer under the Tiffany lamp when he issued that invitation?"

Xander rolled his eyes. "I'm gonna pretend I didn't hear that. Denial is a wonderful place to live. Giles has no sordid past, they didn't cancel "Freaks and Geeks," and the G-Man definitely never gets mellow when the rest of us aren't around. You're invited...in the sense that Buffy indicated she might not stake you the minute you set foot in the door, and Willow asked if she'd need more cookie dough. And now... I have to make Count Chocula treats."

Spike took the open box from Xander's hand. "Mine. Go get your own."

"Fine. Get out of the way while the master goes to work." Xander jumped up (reluctantly, but it wouldn't do Spike's ego any good to know that) from Spike's lap. Retrieved the grocery bag containing the remaining five boxes of cereal from the floor where Spike had left it. Stared hard at it.

Spike snickered. "You have absolutely no idea how to cook these things, do you."

"Shut up, bleach-boy."

*****

Spike sat in the recliner, which he'd turned around so that he could watch, and mock, Xander's culinary attempts. He'd actually gone so far as to paw though Xander's clothes and slip on a somewhat less threadbare robe than the one the boy was wearing. Since his lover kept giving him the evil eye when he sprawled out naked on the chair in the most distracting poses he could come up with, he'd figured it might be more fun to try some subtle torture.

As Xander put butter and marshmallows into a tupperware container and punched buttons on the microwave, a plan began to take shape.

"So, what all's on that list of yours?" Spike asked with feigned disinterest.

"What list?" Xander answered distractedly, starting up the microwave and staring at the back of the cereal box as if it would contain the recipe that he hadn't bothered to look up.

"That list of things you haven't done. The one I plan to whittle down to nothing by way of corrupting you."

"Things I haven't done? I'm thinkin' the other list would be a lot quicker. And less humiliating. How the hell do I know what I haven't done?"

"Hmm... good point. Well, I'll shout 'em out, and you can say yes, no, or what the hell is that, Spike. Knowing you, I'm expecting a boatload of those. Then again, knowing the demon chit, maybe not."

Xander sighed. "Whatever. You just... don't live for this kind of fun, don't you."

"Hell, yes. You should watch me go after Mighty Mousse sometime. It's a lark and a half. You're almost as good."

"Almost?" Xander sounded aggrieved.

"You play along, which is a hell of a lot of fun, but he's the master of 'I can't hear you...' " Spike finished with a sing-song. "Hmph. About even, I guess. Sometimes you feel like a nut… So... let's see. We can cross fellatio off that list. Ditto sodomy. Well, half of that equation, anyway. Cunnilingus?"

"You sound like you're offering the special of the day." Xander put on a terrible French-waiter voice. "And tonight, Madame, we 'av for you ze talented tongue of Xander Harris, Master of le sucking of le chatte. Also, ze house wines are..." He dropped into his own accent again, thankfully. "Yeah, you can cross that off the list."

"And somebody's got a naughty book of French phrases tucked away somewhere, eh?" Spike twisted up one corner of his mouth. Ahh, the things you learn...

"Giles, actually." Xander answered with a grin, just as the microwave beeped.

"I thought you were living in denial about our Rupert."

"Not when it's something I can actually get some use out of..." He turned and removed the plastic bowl from the microwave. Stared at it.

"What?"

"I don't think the marshmallows are supposed to be brown..." Xander fished a spoon out of the cupful of silverware on the counter to the right of the microwave. Stirred the mixture hesitantly. Dipped the spoon in and tasted it. Made a truly memorable face. "Too much butter, and the marshmallows are burnt. Way burnt. Okay, back to the drawing board."

As Xander essentially repeated his previous steps, adding more marshmallows and less butter, Spike returned to his list.

"Where was I...oh, frottage. That's a nice one."

"Sounds like a dairy product," Xander commented, this time stirring the mixture before he put it into the microwave.

Spike came very close to giggling. Vampires do not giggle. I'm...chortling, in a high-pitched tone. " Not been studying the French as hard as we pretend, then. Bit of a trick question, luv. You've done it. It's just your basic rubbin' up against each other, all happy and face to face, et cetera to et cetera. Dirty goodness for all concerned. Er... Ooh, bondage fun."

"Well, I've been tied up. Several times. Can't say I found it a particularly erotic experience when the Preying-Mantis woman locked me in a cage as the big foreplay to fertilizing her eggs and then being eaten. Not in a good way, I might add."

"My....you do live a varied life. Hyenas, bug-women, vengeance demons...vampires." Spike smiled beatifically and traced an invisible halo around his head.

"Not vampires. A vampire. Then there's the reanimated mummy with the tongue-kiss of death, the vampire version of Willow...hey, I guess you were right. Plural vamps. Not that I actually did anything to speak of with vampy Will, but she did have very grabby hands..."

"Red as a vampire? Where the hell was I? God, she must've been hot."

"Excuse me, that's my best friend whose demon-possessed corpse you're salivating over. And you...were on your way back to Brazil, I think." Pause. "Um, yeah, there was hotness. Freaky, scary hotness, but..." The microwave beeped again.

"But let's face it, you're a sick little puppy, or I wouldn't be here having this conversation with you." Spike suggested lasciviously.

"And once again, I question whether this is a conversation, or a fun-for-the-whole-family game of 'Let's make Xander say embarrassing things about himself.' " He tasted the marshmallow and butter mixture again, this time burning his mouth. "Shit."

"So, we'll put bondage down as a possible maybe. As in maybe you've done it, and maybe you'd do it again. Am I right?"

"Maybe."

"Right, being a selfish bastard, I'll just skip the ones that don't do anything for me, so...what else...oh. Rimming."

Xander blinked. Repeatedly. "That'd be a 'Spike, what the hell is that.' "

Oho! A fun new talent to explore! "Didn't think the demonette would've gone in for that. I'll save that one for a practical demonstration. Trust me, you'll like it. Let's see-- you're human, male, and over twelve, so I think we can safely remove wanking from the list. Not that I'm running out, by a long shot, but I might be running out of ones you've actually heard of..."

Xander sighed. "One can only hope..." He stirred the contents of the bowl again. "It just doesn't look right. I wonder if you actually have to heat it in a pot. The Microwave Chef may finally be foiled."

"Why do you have to do this now, anyway?" Spike asked, putting a bit more of the whinge into his voice. "I can think of much more constructive things to occupy your time..."

"Oh, I'm sure. But I have to work tonight, and tomorrow morning, and I'm not leaving you to try to make Scooby Snacks. God knows what you'd put in 'em."

"Hey, I could be a Cordon Bleu chef! I'm over a hundred years old; I have hidden talents, believe it or not." Spike sniffed. Underestimated at all turns, he was. I do have hidden talents, but they have nothing to do with cooking...

Xander looked at him with new appreciation. "Are you?" he asked, hope dawning in his eyes.

"Naw, but I had you goin', there. I can read and follow directions, and I know how to press the button that says 'popcorn...' but beyond that, you're on your own."

"Prick-tease."

"Oooh, non-primetime language. I love it when you talk dirty to me, baby..." Spike purred in his sexiest 'come-fuck-me-now-and-forget-about-the-damn-marshmallows' voice. A smile, but no movement across the kitchen. Spike sighed. "Speaking of which...for a guy who talks as much as you do, can carry on a conversation during foreplay, you're awfully quiet when the chips are down, so to speak..."

"Yeah, your choices seem to be pointless babbling or stunned silence." Xander licked the spoon in his hand, which just about had Spike off the damned chair and pinning him to the wall... but he reined in his impulses, and just...twitched a bit.

"Right, add to list of goals: make Xander scream. In a non-girly voice."

*****

A distinctly hot night at the Sunnydale Drive-In.

Spike had picked Xander up by the waist and deposited him on the countertop. In one swell foop, which had Xander, still a bit dizzy from his upside-down travels over Spike's shoulder, reeling a bit. Hel-lo vampire strength. I've gotta weigh at least fifteen or twenty pounds more than him...

"So..." he asked while trying to catch his breath. "What's this plan of yours? I mean, dragging me around and hoping somebody would show up who was evil enough to want to take dinner away from a vampire...that was pretty much a bust. So what's next?"

Spike scratched his head. "I was sorta thinking we'd put Murphy's Law to use. I get somethin' started with you, that'll be about the time the Big and Creepies start tumbling out of the woodwork." He reached purposefully for Xander's fly.

"So the plan is that when the big ugly demons show up and you go into full vamp-out game-face kick-ass mode, my dick'll be in your mouth? I sense a flaw here, Sherlock." Not that Xander was actually making any move to stop Spike as the vampire lowered the human's zipper and coaxed out his burgeoning erection...

"I exist in the pure and sainted hope that nobody, even on the Hellmouth, would be evil enough to interrupt a man while he's trying to make his lover scream. It's just not cricket." With that extremely British bit of nonsense, Spike's mouth was around him, licking and sucking and just generally proving that William the Bloody did indeed have hidden talents.

What did I do...to get so damn lucky? In the ...literal sense... Thoughts worked their way through Xander's mind in little gasps, as if even his brain were having trouble breathing. Unbelievably beautiful guy...and way over the fact that it's a guy, 'cause…well…Lower lip I could bite on for hours...Likes to give head...which, okay, Anya did too, but...he's so much better at it...Lets me, goofy human guy, fuck him, badass vampire guy, and doesn't seem to care that I'm still too nervous to let him do it to me... He grabbed at Spike's shoulder as the vampire began to hum something or other. Surely not the Star Spangled Banner... He's too much of a baritone to hit the high notes...

*****

"It's just missing something," Xander complained mournfully, sloshing the bowl of marshmallow-and-butter around in a circle.

"Like a pan to put the cereal in when you pour that stuff over it?" Spike suggested, stretching luxuriantly as he rose from the chair.

"Good point, Master Chef. I think I may have to go...upstairs...for this."

Spike frowned. "You don't have to..."

Xander looked at him strangely. "It's just upstairs. No boogey-men. I may not like my parents very much, but they don't...beat me with sticks or anything."

That's good to know. Because then I don't have to try to find a way to kill them, slowly. Assuming you're telling the truth. He searched the boy's face, but didn't find any answers there. Somebody had hurt him, that was for sure. Maybe multiple somebodies. It wasn't all that farfetched to assume it started at home, given the loud voices, the drunken arguments, Xander's general reluctance to have anything to do with his family. Yet he didn't leave. He surely had enough money for first and last month's rent in most of the halfway livable flats in this little burg. Not a sweet little condo like Rupert's, sure, but he could move out any time and find someplace he could afford to hang his non-existent hat. Yet he stayed. So, now, Spike stayed too. Don't trust them, don't necessarily believe him, and I'm not leaving him alone with them. Not leaving him alone at all.

Xander had apparently been taking in the fact that he was being studied. Didn't seem to particularly like it. "What-- do I just have 'victim' stamped on my forehead?"

Yes. Spike gave him a non-committal tilt of the head. "You are a bit...bruise-able, pet."

No answer, but Xander began to gather up his supplies, making ready to head up the stairs into...whatever was up there. Finally, "Dad's at work. Monday, so Mom's probably at her little bridge lunch thingy. Not as if I'll be having to make conversation."

"Good. Then I'll come up with you. Look for incriminating photos." Spike tightened the belt around Xander's too-big bathrobe.

"No, you won't. Mom comes home early, she'll just write off the sight of me in the kitchen, actually cooking, as a pre-Happy-Hour hallucination. She sees you, she'll freak. Nobody could write you off as a hallucination. Unless they were on some really good drugs."

Spike pouted. "Poor Spike. Left alone in the basement with nothing to do but start looking around for evil mischief to get into..." He glanced around the basement. Now where hadn't he looked yet for Xander's hidden stash of porn and other embarrassing goodies?

Xander cleared his throat. "Okay, what can I do to keep you from turning this place into a complete disaster area while I'm gone?"

"You could fuck me so hard I don't have the strength to crawl out of bed," the vampire suggested simply. Like I've been tryin' to get you to do for the last two hours...

*****

And way to make the bluntness work for you again Xander thought as he stared at the pale blonde guy in the maroon bathrobe who'd just politely but straightforwardly asked him, Xander Harris, to fuck him into the mattress. And there wasn't any use pretending that hearing Spike say the words "Fuck me..." in that rough-smooth British accent, didn't make him hard as a rock. He put his cooking supplies back down on the table.

Still...there was a little bit of guilt there. A little... What the hell's he getting out of this? How long is he gonna let me get my rocks off by doing him ?

"Did you...want to try..." he asked hesitantly. Spike pinned him with that clear, take-no-shit-from-anybody gaze. Shook his head slowly.

"Not yet, love. Just...not yet." Spike walked over to him and cupped his chin in one cool hand. "You're not ready, Hell, I'm not ready..."

Xander suddenly understood. "You're just as chickenshit as I am, aren't you? You really are afraid the chip'll go off on you." He smiled. He'd found something Spike was afraid of, and it happened to be something they had in common. Weird. Not that he wanted Spike's head to explode or anything either...

"If you say so. Or maybe I just want to be fucked. You up for that?"

"Ulp. Apparently so." So saying, Xander half-shyly guided Spike's hand down to his groin, which was happily doing its own thing...

Spike grinned merrily. "Guess so." And began to drag him by the hand, towards the bed.

"You know, I have absolutely no idea where the lube went..." Xander said thoughtfully, stopping the overeager vampire where he stood.

"Tossed it out. Somebody didn't put the cap back on, an' it got all squished."

"Somebody spat the cap halfway across the room and lost it somewhere, dickhead. So now what? And don't say 'peanut butter,' either. Because...yuck."

"Well, yum, actually. I've done peanut butter. You don't know what you're missin'. There's another one we can leave on the list. Right, fine, no peanut butter this time...how much plain old butter's left? Enough for you to make your bloody treats and still use a bit for illicit purposes? Should be pretty warm after all the time it's been sitting out."

Butter? Well, I guess. If he says so...

...

So there was Spike, on the bed, propped up on pillows, forget ceremony, forget foreplay, forget non-primetime sexy talk, just 'here's my incredibly attractive ass, please fuck me.' And subtlety be damned, it sounded like a good proposition to Xander. On his knees behind the vampire, experimentally coating his fingers with what was actually I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter, not that anybody was worried about the cholesterol count, right?

"Did I...umm...did I do this right, last time?" he stammered out.

Spike craned his head around to look back at him. "Did you...yes, you bloody well did it right, though it's a bit like Blow-Job 101-- there's no one correct answer. God, you are insecure, aren't you." Xander shrugged. Of course he was. He was Xander, after all.

"Come to it, though, where exactly did you pick that much up, oh innocent boy?"

"Number four across, four letters, ends with 'nya' and it's not a techno-Celtic-easy-listening-singer. Detailed verbal descriptions around the same time as the purchase of yon little white squished tube. I...ah...wasn't up for it."

"She wanted you to do 'er? Guess you do learn somethin' new every day. That's a rare one."

Hem-haw...hem... "Well, she offered, but...what she really wanted was to do me."

Spike's eyebrows shot up towards his slightly shadowed hairline. Time for bleach-boy to do the roots, pretty soon. "That's...inventive. Can't say I'm not glad she didn't. I want that. Anyway…here I thought you two were just boffing each other's brains out in the conventional manner."

"We were, pretty much. I did say I wasn't up to it... I mean... you're dating an eleven hundred year old ex-demon who's made her career out of causing men's body parts to fall off in a thousand creative ways. Do you really want to trust her to stick something up your ass?"

Spike buried his face in the pillow, chortling. Wheezing, almost. "Oh... oh, hell, that's priceless. Can we get a bumper sticker says that?"

"Only if it goes on your car. Which is where, by the way? I know you have one, and yet…you've been hoofing it around town all year. Methinks I smell a story…"

"I don't want to talk about it. Er...would you mind?"

Xander laughed, and began to massage Spike's upthrust buttocks. Gave each one a quick kiss, separated them, and was just about to slowly insert a finger or two, when Spike suddenly tossed back, "Spanking!"

*****

Blisteringly hot night at… well, you get the picture. Spike grinned around a very large mouthful of Xander's cock. No demons or other nasties had managed to wander out of the darkness and into the parking lot yet, which was nice, because he didn't need the distraction. He'd eased off on the semi-traitorous humming when he realized it was about to make the boy come…just a bit sooner than Spike would've liked. Because he really was trying for that scream.

Hmmm…turning up the motor on the Spike-vacuum with optional tongue-massage attachment, he reached underneath with his left hand, to cup Xander's sensitive bollocks. This could get…fun… He squeezed, just a bit. Which got him a quickly indrawn breath and a hissed "Sssssspike…"

Not polite to talk with your mouth full… So he eased off with the left, and raised his right hand above his head, palm up, fingers splayed. As in 'What? What do you want me to do?'

"Do that…again…"

Right hand wiggled its fingers. 'What, this?' Left hand squeezed, a little harder.

"Yesssss, that. Do that." Oh, happy voice. I like happy voice. Could do with hearing it more often.

Still…somebody was getting a bit demanding… Manners these days. Honestly. Left hand merely tickled the full-to-bursting sac as right hand made little 'C'mon, c'mon, what do we say…' flicks, with fingers curling in towards palm…

Xander's breathing was getting loud, now… just a bit more teasing ought to do it… Then Xander's left hand caught Spike's right in a desperate grip, cutting off that line of communication, but not before he'd made his point, apparently.

"Pleeeeease, Spike!" Exasperated. Exhilarated. Completely demented.

Yeah, that's it. I knew somebody taught you some manners. Spike squeezed again, and this time went into full-on 'your balls are my play toy' mode, still sucking and pumping with his mouth. Innit lucky for him I can multi-task…

With a strangled exhalation, Xander stiffened in his grasp-- but Spike didn't want a strangled exhalation; he wanted a scream. So, though he'd sort of promised he wouldn't, sometime yesterday morning, he let his demon out. Just a little. Enough to surround Xander's cock with a ring of sharp teeth that pricked him, so very gently… and faded away as Spike's face smoothed again, and Xander thrust forward into Spike's completely fangless mouth, with an uncontrolled flood of semen, accompanied by a long, low…scream….

And as Spike allowed his favorite, most self-satisfied expression to steal over his face, and Xander slowly began to breathe like a normal human again, footfalls echoed though the lot, crunching on the gravel, and coming their way, fast.

*****

Interlude Before the Third Attempt:

Willow paused outside the magic shop as she mentally tallied up her purchases. Essence of day lily, marjoram, dragon's blood, blue and red, a new packet of beeswax candles… that was pretty much all she'd needed. A trip to the public library earlier in the morning had yielded a volume she'd previously passed over, hidden on a back shelf and suspiciously not in the computer catalog… plus the inter-library loans she'd requested from the University of Texas library had come in, so… All in all, one extremely satisfied witch. She allowed herself a bit of mental wickedness… Or I will be, once I get all this back to Tara's room and we can set up this spell…

After what seemed like aeons of 'doing spells' that had legitimate purposes, and still left them all tingly and overheated, and a month or so of experimenting with non-spell things that…also left them all tingly and overheated, Willow had finally relocated a spell she remembered skimming over in her more innocent days of experimenting with witchcraft. Back when it was all curing zits and looking for ways to rid the world of frogs… A nice, well-intentioned if slightly naughty spell, whose entire purpose was to…leave them all tingly and overheated. Just a bit more than usual.

So…Tara would still be in her summer class, an advanced literature course, and Willow had some time to kill. I really should go over to Xander's and pay him back for the groceries. He sprang for a lot more than he should've, considering he was only one out of five people eating on Saturday. Plus he bought the cookie dough and the ice cream for tomorrow. She headed off down the sidewalk though the early afternoon pedestrian traffic, in the direction of Xander's subdivision. Besides, I should probably make sure he and Spike haven't killed each other yet…

*****

Xander had paused in what he was doing, which wasn't a good thing at all, in Spike's humble opinion. Then again, he'd opened his own big mouth to throw one more torment at the lad, so he guessed he deserved whatever he had coming. Then again, considering what he'd tossed out, that mightn't necessarily be a bad thing…

"I beg your pardon?" Xander squeaked. "I mean, was that a request, or just a random brain-blurb, or what?"

"Just occurred to me that it was one I'd left off the list. Spanking. As in, have you, do you, squick you, et cetera."

"Ahh…" Xander answered helpfully.

Oh…ho…ho… not so innocent in all the ways of the world…

"Oh, come on now. It's a perfectly straightforward question."

"Ye-es. Have."

"Ooh, nummy. Top? Bottom? Switch? Like it? Don't?"

Heavy silence. Pained sigh.

"Look, I'm lying naked on my stomach on your bed, about to be drilled into the bedsprings, hopefully before you have to leave for work. Don't you think we're a bit past the shy phase?"

"No. Sure, you are. You're dead--what do you have to be shy about? Your entire purpose in still walking around is to make me stutter and turn red and say things I've had nightmares about saying in front of my History class. And I'm nineteen. I can be shy if I want. So there."

"Very pretty. As are you. But you still haven't answered the question." Spike growled softly. "And I'd like that, because then you could get back to the purpose at hand, which was you fucking me, already."

"Oh, fine. Whatever. Have I? Yes. Do I? Not at the moment, because I'm busy humoring a pushy-ass vampire. Squick me? I'll assume that's a bad thing, and say no. Either/or, but…" his voice disappeared into nothing…

Spike chuckled. "But you prefer bottom. Welcome to the club. Jacket and tie optional."

Xander's turned for a frustrated sigh, and then he surprised Spike (pleasantly) by smacking him smartly on the arse. "You're not wrong. Now shut up."

"Sir, yes sir. Would you kindly commence with the shagging now, sir? You really can dispense with the formalities. I won't break, and I like pain. The which you might've gathered by now."

"What part of 'Shut Up' don't you understand? The shut, or the up?" Xander rubbed the spot where he'd just smacked Spike, and returned to what he was doing in the first place. Well, made as if to return, then stopped. "You sure?"

"I know you're bloody nineteen and this is only the second time in your life that you've ever done this, but for future reference, that's got to be the worst cliché of all time. Yes, I'm bleedin' sure! I've been doin' this for a while, y'know. Skip the fun an' games, and just jump in. Or I'll follow you upstairs and write nasty things in your mother's gardening books."

Xander snorted. 'Can't have that happening." And pushed his slicked-up member directly against Spike's hole, sending the best sensations scurrying through the vampire's body, as he was stretched and entered without fanfare, which was exactly what he'd been whingeing about for in the first place. Just barely painful enough to be perfect, just slow enough to feel as if it would last forever.

"Thank you," he sighed gratefully, and Xander laughed at him, the relief that he hadn't done anything wrong evident in that sound.

Then they were moving, and it became a bit difficult to figure out where one of them left off and the other began, though Spike was reasonably sure he was the one with the extremely happy arse. Couldn't swear to it on a stack of Bibles, especially as it would probably burn his hand, but he'd lay odds…

I'm one sorry demon, but I'm in love, so bugger off. I like being love's bitch. Suits me.

*****

Willow walked around the Harris house, noting the lack of parked cars. Xander's father was at work. Good. Mr. Harris wasn't exactly one of her favorite people to meet. Xander's mom's car was gone too. Also fine. She was okay to talk to on the 'Hi, is Xander home?' level, but not really all there at the best of times, and way gone in the afternoons. How old was Willow when she realized that Mrs. Harris wasn't just happy if she was home alone after about three o'clock, but mildly blasted? Six? Seven?

Xander's car, or rather, his Uncle Rory's car, was parked around back. The 57 Chevy looked good, except for the dented fender that had been the result of Rory's latest brush with drunk driving. Tipsy driving, from what Xander said, but it was still said in a disgusted tone. Why the man hadn't lost his license for good by now was a constant mystery, but in this case, it had gotten Xander his cool-guy car-thing back for a while. So, Xander was home, unless he'd walked somewhere.

She knocked at the outside basement door. No answer. Knocked again. That's weird. Maybe he did go for a walk. But…Xander? When he's got the babe-magnet at his disposal? Well, she had a key, as did Buffy and Giles, and probably Anya, if she hadn't given it back. I'll just leave the money on the couch, with a note, and see him tomorrow.

She fiddled around with her keyring, finally locating the oddly shaped deadbolt key, and unlocked the door. Knocking again, just to be sure, and hearing no answer, she pushed it open and started down the stairs.

"Xander?" she called. "You home?" No answer, so she creaked her way down the stairs and poked her head around the interior doorway. Huh. Weird. The sofa-bed was still unfolded, and… oh. That's why he didn't answer. He's still asleep. Lazy-butt. It's gotta be three in the afternoon, and here he is napping…

Willow giggled. She knew exactly how to wake Xander up in a hurry-- had, in fact, since they were about five years old. Ticklish feet. It wasn't like he didn't sleep in boxers, anyway, so she wouldn't be getting a free show or anything. Not that she necessarily minded that idea. Hey, I'm allowed to look. Nobody ever said I wasn't allowed to look. Tara looks at Buffy all the time, and I don't rag on her for it.

As she got a bit closer to the rumpled-up bed, however, she realized something. Tickling the foot that was sticking just slightly out from under the covers would probably be a bad idea. Because it wasn't Xander's foot.

"Umm…Anya?" she squeaked. But it wasn't Anya, was it. First, it really didn't sound like Anya was going to suddenly come to her senses and fall swooning back into Xander's arms, and second, she didn't have size nine-and-a-half feet. Male feet. Eep.

*****

Night at the drive-in, getting cooler…

Spike swore softly, and then went into overdrive. Gave Xander's cock a quick, ironic kiss, tucked it away, zipped up the boy's jeans, and watched him roll expertly off the back of the counter to fall to the gravel behind it. He'd be patching up some cuts and scrapes later tonight, for sure.

The vampire whirled around in full demon-mode, to face whatever the swiftly approaching footfalls heralded. Which turned out to be… five foot two, eyes of blue, tank-top too small for words, Buffy Anne Summers. The Slayer. Spike sniggered. Murphy's Law.

"Spike?" she spat at him in surprise. "What are you doing out here?"

"Er…patrolling?" he shrugged, grinning toothily.

"Patrolling?" she repeated, shaking that dirty-blonde hair over her shoulder as if the sheer power of Miss Clairol could ward off the denizens of the night… "Oh. You mean cruising for demons to pick fights with so you don't feel like quite the impotent little fang-boy that you are."

"If you like. You fight for truth and justice and the American way, I do it 'cos it gets my rocks off, but the ends are pretty much the same." He licked his lips absently, and then, realizing what he was tasting, put a bit more effort into it. Buffy scowled at him.

Actually, the ends are a little different. I get to go home and get my end off with one of your best friends, you get to go home and finger yourself until farm-boy gets back from Indiana or Iowa or wherever the hell. I think I've got the better end of the deal.

"I heard a scream. You see anything weird out here?"

"Besides you? Nah. Didn't sound like anybody bein' tortured, anyway. Probably some juicy young things goin' at it in the bushes, late on a summer night. Love's in the air, didn't you know?"

"You're…"

"A pig, Spike…" he finished in unison. "Yeah, but I'm still not the one who wanted 'Wind Beneath My Wings' for the first dance."

She grimaced. That one still got a rise out of her. Good. Nice to know the classics hadn't gone stale yet.

"Tell you what," he added, slipping back to human face. "I'll take a look around. I find anybody shaggin' in the shrubs, I'll give you a shout, and you can come watch with me. Bring popcorn."

"Bite me, Spike."

"Not if you paid me, Slayer."

She stalked off towards the woods on the other side of the parking lot, and he started to laugh. Loudly.

*****

The Third Attempt:

Willow backed up against the doorframe, trying to make her brain work right, and wondering if she could get out of there without waking whoever it was up. Which was about the time she heard Xander's voice start singing, a little off-key, from upstairs.

"You don't have to call me darlin'…darlin'…. You never even call me by my name…" Bad country accent.

That's my Xander. No shame, as long as he thinks nobody can hear him…

And another big eep, because he was coming down the other set of stairs, suddenly, wearing a bathrobe, and carrying a metal baking pan in one hand. She backed up into the shadows of the little foyer by the stairs she had used, trying to sink into the concrete and die, or at least disappear…

Xander looked across the room, right at her, and covered the space between them in about three milliseconds.

"Hey, Wills! Just makin' some tasty treats for tomorrow. Wanna try one? Take a few home to Tara?" He crowded her towards the stairs, wafting chocolate-scented yumminess in her general direction, and looking completely flustered. Well, that made two of them.

"You…cooked? Because, you don't do that, you know. I mean, not unless you can do it by pressing the 'defrost' button on the microwave. And I really gotta go… I just came by to…give you some money, for the groceries, from Saturday, and the cookie dough.. and… I didn't know you had company, and I'll just be leaving now, and next time I'll call…" she babbled relentlessly, backing up the stairs. Maybe I didn't see what I thought I saw. Maybe Xander's just got a girl, with really big feet, in his bed. Maybe my girlfriend's really a man in drag, too. Maybe I should just go back to her room right now and prove that she isn't…

Maybe she should let Xander know it was okay? No, that would require much awkwardness and a certain amount of sweaty palms, and making him acknowledge something he might not want to acknowledge. On the other hand, if she pretended she really thought it was a girl…

"Umm…and I'm glad you're not still upset about Anya, and whoever she is, I hope you… y'know, I should just be leaving now. See you tomorrow!" So saying, she grabbed the baking pan absently from his hand, replaced it with a random handful of bills from her purse, and scurried up the stairs and out the door.

*****

Spike pulled his head out from under the pillow with a groan, his hair sticking up in his namesake spikes. Without the aid of gel. "Well, that was…interesting…" he muttered. Xander stared at him.

"Did she…see you?" he asked in a shellshocked daze. Interesting? Yeah, interesting about covers it.

Spike shook his head. "No, I was just having a snooze, baskin' in the afterglow, as it were, when Red comes traipsing in. I think she thought I was you, at first. Then she squeaked out something about Anya, and…well, you 'eard the rest. I think we're covered on the closety front, though I'll lay odds she'll be sniffin' around trying to figure out which new little chicklette you've got in your nest." He shrugged. "Can't say you don't lead an interesting life…"

"Yeah…may you live in interesting times. It's a Chinese curse. At least according to the fortune cookies at Wong Ling's."

"How'd the nummy treats turn out?" Spike sniffed the air. "Smells good, anyway."

"I think I may have made a bit too much…five boxes adds up to about eight pans of it. Sent one off with Willow, say four of 'em to actually take to Giles…"

The vampire tapped his nose thoughtfully. "Whatever shall we do with the other three, then?"

"I'll go get 'em. Oh… here." Xander reached into the pocket of his bathrobe, and pulled out the little gift he'd found upstairs.

"What's that then?" Spike asked as Xander handed him the photograph.

"Incriminating evidence." A wallet-sized photo of a ten-year-old Xander and Willow, arms around each other, doing a whacked-out version of the Lambada, and smiling cheesily into the camera.

Spike ran his fingers through his hair and quirked his scarred eyebrow, smiling. "I'd best put this someplace safe, so I have blackmail material on hand if I need it." He glanced at his watch. "Don't you have to go to work?"

"Chuck-E-Cheese Hell? After much thought, and my fourth Count Chocula treat, I called the manager and told him to suck eggs. In so many words. Down to one job again."

"I'm devastated. How'll you keep me in the style to which I've become accustomed?"

*****

Willow set her packages down on the table in Tara's dorm room, frowning. Her girlfriend tilted her head, giving Willow that sweet 'I'm worried about you, but I don't know what to say…' look.

"What's wrong? Couldn't you find all the ingredients for the DeChanteis spell? 'Cause, y'know, it's okay if you…you didn't. No biggie."

"No, I got 'em. I'm…just a little distracted, I guess."

"Wanna tell me about it?"

Willow shook her head. "It's not that I don't want to. I don't have anything to keep from you. It's just…this is somebody else's thing, you know? I'm not even sure if it's my business, let alone to share it with anybody else."

"I understand." The blonde smiled, tucking her hair behind her ears. "I just don't like to see you upset."

"I'm not upset. Just a little… concerned, I guess. I think.. somebody I know may be going through pretty much the same thing you and I were, but like I said, I don't know if it's any of my business."

"You're such a neighborhood mom!" Tara laughed softly. "Well, if whoever it is needs help, I know you'll be there. Me too, if you need me."

"Oh, I need you. Come here, and let's see if we can't work some magic."

"Sounds good. Oh--hey-- you brought chocolate! Have I told you lately how much I love you?"

"No…tell me again."

*****

Midnight at the Sunnydale Drive-In Theatre. Not as cool as you'd expect.

"Well, I'd have to say that demon-hunting trip put the "Fee" in fiasco," Xander commented, leaning up against the concession counter and brushing gravel off his jeans. And hands. And face.

Spike watched him. Blue jeans, black t-shirt, dark hair that was growing a little too long… He really should let it get longer. It looks…dangerous, falling in his face like that. In a good way. What had it taken-- three days, and Xander had gone from the guy who hid under the covers after being kissed to the guy who'd sat on a countertop in an abandoned parking lot, getting a blowjob and screaming happily? Rolling professionally to the ground to hide when the Slayer'd shown up, and, as soon as she'd grumped off into the night, joining Spike in a fit of uncontrollable belly-laughter.

"Oh, I dunno. I had a good day. How about you?" Spike pinned him against the counter again, and kissed him softly.

"Yeah, I've had worse."





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