Chocolatey Goodness


by
Mad Poetess



8 Pillow Talking


Night 1: Chocolate Laces

Darkness in the Harris basement, and the sound of a vampire whining. How familiar. Xander Harris rolled over and peered at the bleached-blond wonder tied to the red recliner a few feet away from his bed.

"What?"

"Don't see why I have to be tied up," Spike muttered sulkily.

Xander rolled his dark eyes. "It's just while I'm sleepin'." He turned his back to the vampire again, exposing his oh-so-fashionable Scooby-Doo boxer shorts.

Spike snorted. "Like I'd bite you anyway."

Xander rolled over again to stare him in the eye. "Oh, you would." Softer… "If you could. Which you can, a little, maybe, which is probably something we should..."

"Here now, none of that. No improv, love. You're no bloody Tony Slattery. Your line is 'Oh, comma, you would. Period," Spike chided with mock-strictness.

"Damn straight I'm no Tony Slattery. He can never figure out what the party guests are. Give me Ryan Stiles any day."

Spike snarled. "Ryan Stiles. I'll give you Ryan Stiles. In fact, keep it up, the only person you'll get is Ryan Stiles." He ducked his head and went back to chewing diligently on his bonds. He was halfway through the ones binding his chest and arms to the chair.

"I dunno. Might not be so bad. He's got a pretty nice ass in those jeans," Xander teased. Spike looked up.

"Nicer than mine?" he queried nonchalantly. Well, pseudo-nonchalantly.

Neatly avoiding that snare, Xander replied, "Ah, but we digress. Umm… line?"

"Like I'd bite you anyway," Spike sighed heroically.

"Oh, you would," replied the boy in the bed, with supreme confidence.

"Not…" …gnaw, gnaw, gnaw… "bloody likely."

Smugly: "I happen to be very bitable, pal." Pause. "I'm moist, and delicious."

Without looking up from his work, Spike replied. "Well, yeah, wouldn't argue with you there. More delicious than this flippin' chocolate licorice, anyway. Think it's gone stale."

"Now who's improvisin'? Anyway, it was your idea."

"Which you protested so strongly. I believe the phrase was 'Works for me…' dopplering away as you disappeared off to the candy aisle at a quick trot." Silence. More silence. Spike glanced up. "Oh, right. You're moist and delicious, to which I say… Alright. Yeah. Fine. You're a nummy treat." There was a certain lack of sincerity in the sarcasm that was supposed to go along with that line, though. Wasn't really Oscar-level acting. Somebody might question his motivation.

"And don't you forget it." Almost triumphantly. Followed by Xander turning over and snuggling down into the pillows, not looking at the still-gnawing vampire. Which gave said vampire plenty of time to stop chomping and study the still form appreciatively.

Possibly a little too distracted… After a minute, Xander craned his head around.

"Umm, Spike, shouldn't you be out of that by now?"

Spike ducked his head again, and let his little frustrations build into one big one, his eyes flaring gold and his face doing the vampire furrow-dance. Now here were some teeth he could use… "Working on it…" he muttered shortly.

Xander propped his chin on his hands. "I think you're not trying hard enough. You just like being tied up, don't you?"

"Under the right circumstances," Spike replied honestly, biting through the last lace that bound his upper body to the chair.

"Sick, masochistic bastard."

"Damn straight. Though you're a one to talk. Course, I'm sadistic as well. Either/or. Always have been a switch." He shook vamp-face away, and began plucking at the laces that bound his legs, one…by…one…

"Like I hadn't noticed. And you wonder why I wouldn't buy you the trick handcuffs at WalMart. Which only you could figure out the trick to. I can just see me handcuffed naked to the water heater, and you scampering off into the night to go kick ass, snickering all the way. And here's me: 'Oh, hi, Mom, well, it was like this…' "

The vampire grinned. "And there's you contributing to the delinquency of a long-past-minor. Since you wouldn't buy 'em for me, I had to nick 'em. They're in the drawer. And I don't scamper. Cartoon animals scamper. The word you're looking for is 'scarper.' " Snap. Snap. One bleedin' lace at a time…

"Yeah, you say biscuit, I say cookie, you say lift, I say how high…So, does this mean you actually liked being tied up in Giles' bathtub?"

Smarmy little git. "No, it does not. Bein' hand-fed pig's blood by the Slayer while the damn cold from that porcelain seeps through my trousers and freezes my arse off. Among other important bits. No thanks, mate. By the time he shipped me off to you it was 'no, no, not the comfy chair…' "

"By the time he shipped you off to me, you were sleeping on the couch, whiny-boy. So… does that mean you actually liked being tied up here ?"

Smug bastard.

Positively evil grin, which he was glad Xander couldn't see. "Maybe." Well, yeah, sure. Not quite as much as he would have liked being where he was about to be, but the 'prisoner in the chair' bit had its perks as well… 'Course, they'd worn a bit thin by two in the morning when he couldn't move, or touch, or do anything but watch Oblivious-Boy sleep. Ah, but that was then…as he snapped the last lace, he sprang up and literally dived onto the bed, with a loud "Grrr…"

Xander rolled over and eyed the extremely naked vampire, whose face was lit with manic glee. "Oh…vampires. Nasty. Someone save me."

"Too late. In the black hole that is Xander's basement, no one can hear you scream. 'Cept me, and I don't mind at all." He leaned down and covered his victim's mouth with his, and lo, there was no screaming. After a few long kisses, or maybe just one reeeally long one: " So…chocolate sauce or chocolate flavored oil?" He fiddled with the bottles lined up on the top of the sofa-back.

"The obvious answer would be, depends on what you're planning to do with them," Xander retorted. Spike smacked him hard on the seat of his boxers, thankfully without having to clutch his own head in pain afterwards. His lover wriggled happily. Ah, good intentions. Why hadn't he known they were so bloody helpful years ago?

"Incorrect. Please try again."

"Er…both? And ouch, for the record."

"Very good. You took the punishment, you get the prize."

"Which is?"

Spike's turn to roll his eyes, and gesture down the length of his pale body. "The glory that you see before you."

Xander burst into laughter. "You really are fulla yourself, aren't you?" Not that he seemed to be complaining, as he reached out a hand to trace a line down Spike's hairless chest.

"Well," Spike said thoughtfully, opening the bottle of chocolate flavored oil, "the other option would be me being full o' you. Or vice versa."

"Hmmm… decisions, decisions…what's behind Door Number Three?" his lover asked teasingly, squirming around as he tugged his boxers off.

"My boot up your arse, wanker."

"Ooh, Spike, you say the sweetest things. Well, in that case…"

"Too late. Choice made. You forfeit," Spike spat out, pulling the other man on top of him and running an oil-covered hand over Xander's chest and stomach, eventually making it down to the warm cock that was already jutting out at him.

Xander smiled. "I'll try not to be too disappointed."

 

***

And a few long minutes later, as the dark-haired human was slowly entering the vampire, and Spike was grinning up at him like a drunken ferret, the real torture began.

"So, you still think Ryan Stiles has a nicer arse than mine?" Said arse being fondled appreciatively by two busy hands, and raised off the bed by virtue of Spike's ankles wrapped snakelike around the younger man's shoulders.

Groan. "You…always talk…this much?" Xander ground out, throwing Spike's own words back in his face, and reaching for the vampire's penis with one hand, only partially in an attempt to make him incoherent.

As the (very fast-learning) young man began to pump Spike's (only too happy to be a visual-aid) shaft, in time with his own accelerated pistoning in and out, Spike tried to decide between "Just call me William Rosenberg" and "You didn't answer the bloody question, did you?" The need for a decision was removed when he realized that about the only sounds capable of escaping from his mouth were decidedly non-English vocalizations.

 

***

More than a few long minutes later, Spike was slowly licking the last traces of chocolate sauce off Xander's right nipple, and seriously considering slipping out of bed to retrieve some of those broken chocolate laces, for bow-tying purposes. But Xander was looking a bit knackered, so maybe now would be the time to lie low, relax, lick his lips, lean his head on his lover's flat stomach, and…

"So, Ryan Stiles. Geeky Yank with a big nose and no sense of comedic timing. Nicer arse than mine?"

Xander thumped him on the head.

"Oi!" he protested, and warm hands began to gently rub the spot where he'd been hit.

"No. Not nicer than yours. Now shut up. Hush. If we're playing this game right, there's no dialogue left. "

"Well, not quite. There's 'Xander…don't you care about me?' "

"Possibly. Shut up."

"We never talk."

"You talk all the time. Shut up."

"Xan---der…" Spike sang, suppressing a giggle.

"That's it." Xander put a chocolate-smeared hand firmly over Spike's mouth. "Shut up. Geez, where's a bunch of voice-stealing fairytale undertakers when you need 'em?"

Spike smiled as he snaked out his tongue to lick the palm of Xander's hand. Then frowned. Didn't that lot steal hearts, too? He was sure… but by the rules of the game, he wasn't allowed to ask. So instead he reached round behind him and concentrated on tying a one-handed knot with the single chocolate lace he'd managed to sneak out of the pile of supplies on the sofa-back. He could get used to this.





Night 2: Monsters Under the Bed

Xander woke in his own bed, in what was definitely the middle of the night...or maybe the early hours of the morning. Alone, a bit cold, trapped, and extremely annoyed. Well, when you fall asleep under the covers with a purring vampire snuggled up to your back--- and wake up naked, un-blanketed, and staring at where the ceiling would be if you could see in the dark, hands stretched over your head and cuffed to something solid that you can't even identify...

"Spike!" he hissed. No answer from the pitch-black room. He wriggled his wrists against the cold metal handcuffs. So not funny. At least his hands were warm, stuffed under the upholstery at the back of the sofa-bed, so that the cuffs could be fastened, he guessed, to some bit of metal in the sofa frame itself.

Oh Spi-ike.... c'mere you psychotic little bastard, and we can have a talk about why Xander doesn't like to wake up naked and chained to things, when he didn't go to sleep that way. And how his life has progressed to the point where he actually needs to add that last clause...

"Spike, not funny. Not even remotely funny. Not even high school talent show funny. Which was actually pretty terrifying. Where are you?" No answer. Great. Well, you're the one who gave him the idea, Harris. At least it wasn't the water heater. If I have to be naked and handcuffed to something so my mom can walk in at an inopportune moment... or...ulp, Willow---no, don't go there. Nope. Buffy. Nope. Bad, evil thoughts. Go away now. Anyway, at least I get to be in my own bed. But...

"Spike, dammit. I'm cold !"

A long-suffering sigh rose from directly beneath him, echoing through the mattress and chasing its way along his bones until it bounced around for a few blissful seconds in his skull.

"You're no fun anymore, you know that"? Spike sounded half-amused and half-disgusted. "I mean... play on my sympathies, why don't you?" His low voice was muffled by the fact that there was a rather broken down sofa-bed between him and his still-pissed-off lover.

"Why are you under the bed, Spike?" Xander asked a bit more patiently than he thought he was capable of.

"Wanted to see if I could bend that damn support beam back into place, so I don't keep wakin' up with a crick in my back every bleedin' day."

Okay, that was a fair and reasonable answer, except...

"And you chose to do this in the middle of the night because?"

"Couldn't sleep, could I. Supposed to be out killin' things, but nooooo, somebody 'as to work all day, and then whine at me about takin' off without 'im.... And that thing kept pokin' me in the back. Not in a good way." Spike's voice was laced with irritation.

"Okay, fine. Makes sense. And the fact that I'm freezing my ass off, chained naked to the bed, and you took all the covers with you?

Spike chuckled. "Well, I was about to wake you up and have a little fun, but then the soddin' bedframe attacked me again. Decided six months in a wheelchair once in my unlifetime was enough, thanks. Figured you'd keep nicely up there. And…well, it's chilly down here." He pushed upwards on the metal bar that ran across the top third of the bed, and Xander curled unconsciously into the contact.

"Well, with the AC cranked up to middle-aged hot-flush heaven level, it ain't exactly Club Med up here, either. I'm cold."

"And you're a brat, 'cos you know that's my weak point, and you're playin' it for all it's worth. Sucker for a sob story, I am. Dru once melted my only copy of 'Sid Sings' on CD, because it was 'pretty' an' she thought it'd make rainbow colors if she burned it. 'Bout to wring her sweet little neck, and all she had to do was bat 'er eyelashes at me an' look all frail, and whimper "But I'm cooooold, Spike," an' there I was jumpin' like Walter bloody Raleigh to put m'coat around 'er."

"That was truly touching, Spike. Or maybe you're just truly touched." Xander stretched his arms, trying to shake a little life back into his prickling wrists. "For the record, I don't like waking up alone."

Silence from beneath the bed. Finally, "No, me neither. Didn't actually expect you to wake up; out like a light, you were. Well, I know why I don't. Why you?"

Xander sighed. The things he ended up telling Spike, just because the vampire asked... "When I was little, I used to get scared."

Another chuckle from beneath him. "Used to?"

"Yeah, okay, point, but that was before I found out there were real creepy-crawlies out there to be scared of. Back then, it was monsters under the bed."

"Grrrrrr...." Spike growled obligingly from under the bed.

"Even pointier point. Anyway... My mom... she used to try a little harder, back then. If Dad wasn't home, and I was scared, she'd come into my room and lay down with me, and I didn't think they could get me, with her there. I was always begging her to stay, so when I woke up, I'd know she'd been there all night, and none of 'em did anything nasty to me while I was sleepin'. She'd stay 'til I fell asleep, but she was always gone in the morning. I mean, who wants to spend the night in a twin bed with a six year old, right?"

*****

Spike was quiet, for a moment, then laughed. Just a bit. What a bloody world. Oedipal schmoedipal, right? Anybody else, I'd laugh my arse off.

"Fine. See if I share my innermost childhood remembrances with the dead guy again," Xander muttered peevishly.

"No, I was just thinkin' we could have a lovely competition to see which of us'd give Freud the biggest hard-on. Hang about up there-- I'll be finished in a minute, and I'll bring the blankets back, promise." Spike pushed up on one of the bent sections of the support bar, and the metal gave a little groan.

"Like I'm going anywhere." Xander said slowly. "Hey Spike..."

"Yeh?"

"You really want me?" A really small voice, like the boy was still about six years old.

"Like, right now? You mean, am I down here thinkin' about you all trapped up there, layin' ready and open for me to come and lick you from head to toe, and put my mouth around your cock and suck every bit o' life out of you, and you can't do a damn thing about it 'cept lie there and take it like a good boy?" Spike asked, his throat suddenly feeling rougher, like he'd just smoked a pack and a half of menthols in five minutes.

"Okay, not so cold anymore… but no, I actually meant that in a....relationship way, like 'Spike, why am I having these strange feelings, Spike, do you think we should get a cat? ' What's really going on?"

The cold air was a little heavier than it should've been, maybe. That was why the quiet echoed so loudly. Why the hell does he have to think of these things? Why does he have to ruin a perfectly good little pre-shag conversation that was about to turn kinky in a minute if I had my way, by askin' me stuff that comes way too close to me tellin' him I love him?

"So, more like, am I down here thinkin' that the minute this chip comes out of my head, you're first on the dinner menu, followed by all your little friends? Or maybe save you so's you can watch when I drain the witches, and stake Rupert through the eyes with the earpieces from his bloody glasses, an' decorate the trees on Summerherst with the Slayer's intestines?'

"And suddenly I could use a sweater. Yeah, something like that."

"No. I'm not down here thinkin' that. You really can't leave things go, can you." Spike had the feeling he was colder under the stolen blankets than Xander was up there without them.

"Oh yeah. Been the master of that for nineteen years, give or take. Letting things sit without touching 'em. Well, without touching 'em in public, anyway."

Spike pushed up suddenly on the mattress itself, not the beam, so that his hands were pressing against Xander's shoulders, with only a mattress and death and a demon between them.

"I told you I wouldn't hurt you. I didn't just mean 'at the moment'." Ever, alright? Don't make me say it. Don't make me say it includes your sniveling, world-saving little friends because rippin' 'em to pieces sorta qualifies as hurting you, in the most academic sense of the word...

"I don't know what that means," Xander replied, sounding... vaguely comforted, all the same.

"Well, that makes two of us. But for what it's worth, it's true."

Xander laughed, just a little. "Yeah, well you told me my friends wanted me to join the Army, too."

Spike punched the mattress, but not hard. "So I lie a bit. S'pose if you're really worried you could have Red do her kicky little truth spell on me, if you wanna risk me bein' turned into a stink beetle. But then there'd be the little matter of tellin' her we've been shagging..."

"Is that what we've been doing." It wasn't really a question, merely a verification.

Yes. I've been cuddling with you and pulling you onto my lap and kissing you at every available opportunity and watching you while you sleep like you'll fade away if I close my eyes, and it's all for the sake of a good hard fuck. God, I'm in love with an idiot. Which, for once, is actually safer for me than otherwise, so I suppose I'd best not look a gift horse in the arse.

"Among other things," he answered simply. "Things we could be doin' in about three minutes if you'd shut up and let me fix this castoff from the Brady Bunch set." He gave the second bend, the one that had been poking upward, instead of dipping down, a hearty pull. It creaked alarmingly, and then slowly settled into a position vaguely resembling straight.

"There. Got it." He slid out from under the bed, pulling the wooly blankets with him. "Still cold? " he asked, tossing a blanket over Xander's feet as the boy blinked at him.

"Hungry."

"You're always hungry! Where the hell do you put it all?" Spike stared at him in amazement. He'd eaten two bloody plates of garlic-free spaghetti, a huge pile of chocolate chip cookies, and half a bag of cheese puffs during the hour before he collapsed exhausted into the bed and started giving Spike cocker-spaniel-eyes about not going hunting tonight. Now it was three in the morning, and Xander wanted food?

"You're always dead. What's your point? Gonna let me go so I can get some munchies, or what?"

Spike grinned. Not quite wickedly. Just...slightly naughtily. "Think not, somehow. Not when you're lookin' so lovely an' defenseless there."

He strolled over to the fridge, having no trouble navigating the piles of laundry and other basement fun that lay on the floor like a minefield for those with non-vampiric sight. Now... what had they actually brought home on Wednesday night from that bizarre shopping trip to the suburban mecca known as Super-Wal-Mart? Oh, yeah.... that would do it. Grabbing his prize and retrieving a spoon from the silverware cup Ah, Martha Stewart's White-Trash Living..., he returned to the bed, sitting beside Xander.

"Open up, then."

"You've got to be kidding me."

"Well, if you won't open your mouth, I'll obviously have to spread chocolate pudding all over your body and lick it all off, instead. Which would be fun for me, but wouldn't solve your little hunger problem."

"Open mouth, get pudding. Close mouth, get licked. Open mouth, get pudding. Close mouth, get licked. Open mouth..." Xander chanted sadly, as if supremely torn.

Spike smiled far more gently than he ever knew he was capable of, and gave in. "Open your mouth, idiot. I brought two containers."

"Hmm... lick first, eat later?"

"I can do that." And Spike dipped a finger into the first container of pudding, and began slowly painting a completely accurate regulation dart board on Xander's chest.

"That tickles," his lover laughed semi-grumpily as he finished the high-scoring ring.

"Best wash it off, then, hadn't I." And he began to lick, slowly. Tasting. Tasting everything.

"So," Xander said a little waveringly. Spike was unsure whether it was all emotional or had anything to do with the fact that Spike was dragging his tongue awfully close to the patch of coarse curls between Xander's legs… "Does that mean that you don't actually want to eat me?"

Spike pressed his laughter against warm skin, tasting creamy chocolate and salt sweat, and smelling the rushing blood, so close beneath that skin.

"Didn't say that… just that I wouldn't hurt you. Well, not in a bad way...." He dipped his finger in the almost-empty pudding-cup, and crawled up Xander's body to offer it to the motionless boy, who licked that finger as if it were the last pudding-covered vampire finger in the western hemisphere.

"There is more, y'know…" And Spike opened the second container, dipped the spoon in, and began to slowly feed Xander, teasing him…holding the spoon just above where he could reach with his mouth, then darting in and letting Xander suck the cool, creamy pudding with disturbingly single-minded precision.

"I like you better in the bed than under it," Xander offered with a smile, after he'd once again released the spoon from between his lips.

"Grrr…" Spike answered, and held another spoonful above the boy's head. And held it there.... "Oh, c'mon. Say please and get it over with!"

Xander shook his head, and reached for the spoon with a lightning-quick movement of his right hand. Vampiric reflexes were faster, and Spike caught the hand in mid-grab.

"No, we don't, now. And how long ago did we figure out how to get out of the handcuffs?" Spike questioned sternly.

"Oh, somewhere around 'open mouth, get pudding...' " Xander replied innocently.

"Well, put those hands away again, or I won't feed you any more."

"Sir, yes sir. Putting hands away, sir."





Night 3: Positive

"Well, you wanted to talk about it," Spike said crankily, putting a cigarette between his lips, perfectly well aware of the laser-beam glare Xander was shooting at him from the recliner, and ignoring it resolutely. Blonde guy in another man's bed, naked and smoking, or at least looking like he was smoking. Yeah, that wasn't a missing scene from Drugstore Cowboy...

"Don't light that, unless you wanna join the ashes, nicotine-man," Xander snarled at him, scrunching back into the chair and folding one arm over his bare chest, as he nibbled distractedly at the Ho-Ho he held in his other hand.

"Wasn't gonna. Wouldn't like to pollute your delicate human lungs or anything. Just want somethin' in my mouth, and since you're over there, an' I'm over here..."

"And that's where I'm staying, thank you very much! Until you tell me what the heck you thought you were up to..." Xander frowned at him prettily, and Spike shrugged, unable to look too irritable when the mere expression on the face across from him was making him want to do all sorts of non-irritating things.

Xander hopped up from the chair and began to pace the room, quite a sight in jeans and white athletic socks and nothing else, back muscles tensed and rippling as he stalked back and forth. Spike rolled the unlit fag over his lips, wishing he were either pacing as well, or throwing that body down on the bed in a more enjoyable conversation-postponer.

"I was trying to," Spike replied, "and you started going on about 'eew' and 'could we not have this conversation,'... and other such mature reactions. Do you or don't you want to talk about it?" The subject had to come up sooner or later. Since he'd discovered he could, sort of... cause a limited amount of pain, if it were meant to give pleasure... He'd pushed it off at least once, not even sure how he felt about it, much less whether he wanted to discuss it with his unpredictably squeamish human lover. "Hey, let me know when it's my turn to pace, yeah? 'Cos this room isn't big enough for both of us to blow off steam."

Xander turned and glared at him again, then the human's expression softened. "Well... look...you could hurt me... more than I was expecting, I mean. Even accidentally. It's not something I just want to be surprised by..."

"Right, 'cos you've categorically proven that you're not into pain and kinky stuff..." Spike rolled his eyes and gave a frustrated laugh. "Anyway, what's that got to do with talking about it? First you want to, then you don't... you're worse than the Slayer with a bad case of PMS."

"I meant, let's talk about the actual possibility of you biting me, and what the hell that means, not let's listen to Spike, the undead Frugal Gourmet, give a diatribe on the merits of AB negative versus O positive. Cooking With Blood, get the entire set from Time-Life Books..." Xander gestured towards the silent telly, as if he'd just seen the advert on Channel Sixty-Two.

Right. Let's both try to be funny, then. Diffuse a little tension? "Look, you went on about eighteen hundred sorts of pizza toppings for hours on end, and I shut up and let you. I've only got eight soddin' flavors to go through, you'd think you could take an interest for that long..."

Xander squished his face into a grown-up parody of a kindergartner's. "Well... it's icky, dammit! I mean, yeah, a little pig's blood kiss doesn't taste all that bad, mixed with chocolate, especially if I close my eyes and pretend it's... I'm not having this conversation."

Spike removed the cigarette from his mouth and studied his lover. "You saying what I think you're saying? You're closing your eyes and pretending it's come?" He snickered. "You've a really perverse sense of what to be squeamish about. Then again, not all that different a taste...maybe I could do it the other way round..." His eyes narrowed as he considered the possibilities... "Nah. Like both too much to sacrifice one for the other. But...neat. Have I mentioned I like you? You're even perverting me!"

"Glad to oblige. But... human blood... I mean, you do understand why the whole subject makes me nervous?" Xander slowly walked back and sat on the edge of the chair.

"Everything makes you nervous. Bus stations make you nervous. Hairless cats make you nervous. You're shagging a vampire, though, so you've obviously got a pair and a half hidden somewhere. Alright, I'll bite. So to speak. Makes you nervous 'cos what if I killed you, accidentally?"

"It's a thought."

"Never happen. Gimme some credit, here."

"What if you killed me on purpose? It wouldn't have to hurt, I'm not that stupid."

Spike...shut his eyes. Do I have long enough with you to convince you I don't want to hurt you? At all? Because at this point, I'm thinking you'll be in the Sunnydale Home for the Aged before you grok that the only reason I'd kill you is to turn you. And when did I start thinking thoughts like that? Xander the vampire. Viciously attacking defenseless jelly donuts...

"Hello, distracted vampire guy... talking here? About your favorite subject other than yourself?"

"Right, blood. As in, do I plan to suck all of yours out while makin' it so much fun for you that you lie there an' let me. Don't think I could, and don't particularly want to. What makes you think I want to spend eternity with you?" Except the fact that I've dreamed about it three nights straight, and woke up with a hard-on every time.

Xander gaped at him. "I...meant...I didn't mean that."

Spike got up and walked over to him, tossing the mangled cigarette on the bedside table. "I know you didn't. But I answered the other question once, and I only repeat myself when it's something good about me. " He stood over the boy, staring straight into those burnt-caramel eyes. "Xander, I don't intend to kill you. You're bloody safe, chip or no chip." Yup. He'd lost another little chance at ever looking like a real vamp again... "Happy now, angst-boy? Do you have any clue what it cost me to say that?" He bent and kissed Xander's chocolate-smeared lips.

"Yeah. Maybe I do." Xander pulled him down...to sit on his lap? Well this was a change. Not an unpleasant one, by any means.

"Anyway, I thought you had 'nads of steel, or somethin'? I mean, if you can tongue-kiss game-face..."

*****

Xander took a good look at Spike. 'Bout time to reel him in, wasn't it. "Thought so too. Then you decided to suck on my neck like it was," he shook the second half of his snack cake in Spike's face, "the last Ho-Ho in the box and you wanted to make it last all night...Made me a bit jumpy."

"Where's the cream filling?" Spike supplied with a tired smile. "You didn't mind before. Why now?"

"Because now you can. I think."

"Only if you wanted me to."

Xander gave him a -half-embarrassed smile. Spike's own smile slowly got... a bit less tired. A little... smarmy, even. "You do! That's what all this crap is about. You do want me to, and you're back in that shower again, sittin' on the floor an' cursing yourself out for wantin' what you think you shouldn't. Only this time it's not about me bein' a bloke, it's about me bein' what you've been killing for the last four years."

Xander curled his lips up...almost wickedly. At least he hoped he was managing to learn... wicked, because it always came in handy with Spike around. "Nope."

"Nope?" Spike mocked. "What then?"

"Open up."

"Thought I just did."

"Smartass vampires don't get Ho-Ho's..."

Spike opened his mouth, and Xander shoved the cream-filled chocolate cake in ...very messily. While Spike diligently tried to unroll the thing with his tongue, which was the way of Ho-Ho addicts everywhere, Xander played with the collar of Spike's shirt where it lay draped over the back of the chair, picking at the thread where the top button was coming loose.

"Okay... I might have actually said those things... not that I'd admit to this under oath...just to get you to say the part about 'chip or no chip...' " Xander grinned at him and peeked up through downturned lashes. He was either about to get his ass kicked, or... well, he was about to find out, as Spike abruptly swallowed what was in his mouth and grabbed him roughly by the chin, forcing his eyes up to meet Spike's blazing blue ones.

"Don't ever pull that shit with me again. You want to know something, ask." Spike gave him a dark stare, then a smile spread across his face, slowly. Painfully slowly. Sounding almost proud... and still annoyed as hell, he added, "Very good. Manipulation worthy of the master. I'm impressed."

Way to pile on the guilt, Spike. I just wanted to know...something. About how you feel about me. And now I'm apprenticed to the guy who gives meddling soap opera witches a bad name. Xander shook his head. "Sorry."

"Yeah, you are, but it suits me, these days," Spike replied matter-of-factly. "That said... that was a very bad thing to do, and somebody," the vampire added sternly, his voice dropping to sub-basement level, "really needs to be punished."

And why did that statement, uttered in that voice, give Xander nasty little tingly feelings? Of the kind that his Anya-adventures were only... poor echoes of? Not because Spike was remotely right about him being just a bit twisted on the kink issue himself. Even if it had taken what was allegedly one of his worst enemies to get him to admit it...

"Not that somebody would necessarily mind that, but... maybe you could try the biting me thing tonight, instead?"

Spike gaped at him. Look-- I surprised Jaded-Man, fanged hero to sardonic vampires everywhere.

"Really? You mean it? You sure?" God, Spike sounded like...he sounded like Xander had, when Spike had said he could have the last Ho-Ho, as a matter of fact.

"Yeah. Positive." Xander pulled Spike's face to his own, and there was long-term kissing. Spike finally broke off when he'd obviously started to worry about respiration, and other little human needs Xander might have.

Xander grinned again. "Learned how to breathe through my nose and kiss at the same time. You like?"

"You're a complete kook. And just who were you practicing on?" Spike punctuated that one with a little gravelly rumble in his throat.

"Um... the first five Ho-Ho's?"

"We'll get back to the subject of me smacking you silly one of these days. Count on it." But Spike didn't seem terribly interested in pursuing the topic right now, as he lifted both eyebrows in what was possibly the most seductive facial expression since... well, Spike lifting one eyebrow.

Xander nodded at him.

Then...the blonde suddenly shook his head. "No. This's too easy. Why? You tell me why you want this. Death-wish? Auto-erotic shit?"

"Auto-what?"

"Gettin' a hard-on from coming close to killin' yourself. Usually by strangulation, though I s'pose blood loss could be a close second."

***

Faith falling on Xander, throwing him back on her bed, the birthright strength of the Slayer employed not to protect him, but to force him down, helpless. Faith's hands around his throat, tightening, making black spots appear in the corners of his vision, Faith's lips on his at the same time as she choked the life out of him...pain and fear and the utter certainty that he was going to piss himself any minute, and Faith still squeezing... Kinks or vanilla.... and he'd wanted to say "chocolate...let's go get a sundae...let me go...let me up," but there was no air, and she was smiling with those dark red lips, and it just got darker and darker until all he could hear was the rushing of his own blood...

***

"No..." he said slowly, in the present, Spike's presence heavy and comforting on his lap. "Not...into the choking thing."

"Yeah, well. Good. We can just leave that one on that list of things you 'aven't tried. I'm not indulgin' your 'I'm so useless, might as well court death' fantasies. Already got one broody bastard too many in my unlife. Don't need one in my bed."

"My bed," Xander corrected him. Crammed the memory of the dark Slayer back into one of those little mental pockets he wasn't really supposed to be looking in, ever. Blood. Spike wanted to know about blood. About biting. About why he wanted Spike to do it. "Do I have to tell you?"

Spike tilted his head to one side, puzzled. "Do you have to... Yeah, if you want me to do it. Hell, listen to me makin' the human convince me as to why I should bite 'im. This conversation's as insane as... any other we've had. Yes, you have to."

It was...stupid. Embarrassing to say, to Spike, because it was flowery and girly and...pretty much exactly how he was feeling at the moment, and the last thing in the world he wanted the vampire to do right now was laugh at him. Why wasn't he scared of this? Really? He didn't have a clue. Why had he been terrified shitless a few days ago of something that could, at worst, leave him with a sore ass in the morning? (Had, in fact, and he smiled at the memory. It was a good kind of sore.) Why, at the prospect of something that could actually kill him, did he just feel this strange steady desire to...

"I guess I owe you, for that crap with 'chip or no chip...'" Xander began hesitantly.

"Damn straight."

"Okay. Don't laugh at me, please. My ego can only get so small before it starts talking to amoebas... " Spike snorted at him. "I mean it. This is gonna sound stupid, and I don't wanna hear a single little Spike titter outta you, or I'm...staying at Giles' for the rest of the week!"

"Listening. Not laughing."

"Okay...dumb stuff now." Long pause, deep ragged breath, as if Faith's hands were still around his throat. "I want... to be...part of you. Part of what you are. Not the death part. The life part. The part where I keep you alive. The part where you need me. I want to know what that's like."

A rough sound from Spike, like breathing in, if he'd really been breathing, was hurting him. "You...sure you don't want me to just throw you over the back of this chair and shag you blind? 'Cos...don't say shit like that, Xander, if you want me to have the tiniest bit o' self-control around you!" He laughed, more easily now, and then... gave Xander that same questioning, seductive stare. This time Xander just leaned back, and stared straight back at him. Yes. I want you. Want you to need me. Want you not to figure out how much I think I need you.

Spike growled, low in his chest, and shook his head as he morphed into...the face that Xander wasn't terribly afraid of, for reasons that it might hurt Spike's pride to know. Xander dared him. Dared the animal to come and bite him. Like he was standing outside the hyena cage, looking the pack in the eyes, and slowly letting drops of his own blood fall through the bars... Dared the man he was coming to recognize as his lover to make that calculated, snake-strike move. The insane thought passed through his mind that it just might be scarier for Spike, after six months of...abstinence, than it was for himself after nineteen years.

Spike's lips were on his throat, but not fast...it took a hundred years for the vampire to lower his head to Xander's neck, a hundred more for skin to finally touch skin. And what was that about vampires being cold-blooded? Not when they were about to feed, apparently. Okay, time to panic now. But... Um.. panic? Hello, where are you? But it... all it was doing was making him hot, hardening him in his jeans as Spike's tongue brushed over his pulsing neck vein... With Spike's weight on his lap, he wanted to grind up against the bare ass that was pressing down on his suddenly aching cock...But he was frozen still-- no, not frozen-- immobile, but on fire. Once, twice, Spike's tongue was rasping against his skin, as those shark-sharp teeth scraped tantalizingly, but didn't break the surface. Didn't...didn't...didn't...

Somewhere down inside him, the insanity was going out of control, apparently, as Spike's teeth on his neck sent hot flashes up and down every nerve in his body...and all he could think of was that he needed to say...

Needed to say...something that would make Spike understand it was alright... something...

"Don't...don't be afraid, Spike. It's okay. Don't be scared." And he stroked the back of Spike's head, feeling the smoothness of that icy-blonde hair--after how many thousands of applications of peroxide...?

Spike stiffened in his arms, and then that tantalizing mouth kissed him, very gently, on the throat. Just lips. Just Spike's soft lips on his skin... then...the pinprick of teeth. Just touching...and then a cold, steely pain that felt so...focused. Four tiny spots of cold and fire, as four fangs easily pierced his skin. Unbelievably delicate-- Spike could be delicate?

And then it wasn't about pain, as Xander began to feel the warmth flow over him, spreading from his neck to his entire head, down his spine, sweet and hot and it was as if the life was flowing out of Spike and into him, instead of the other way around. At the same time, though, he could feel something of himself leaving, being given willingly. It was...like they were one creature, blood and heat flowing between them in an unending circuit, and it was slow and easy, and it was still torturing his poor cock, which now felt like it had been just on the edge of climax for hours, denied release.

Suddenly, no warning at all, Spike's fangs were out of his neck, and the rasping tongue was licking at the four little puncture wounds, as if to seal them, or lap up the last of the blood, or just to stake a claim on what was Spike's. That, too, was warm and good, but there was an emptiness, a loss, like the feeling of emptiness that would come between the removal of Spike's fingers from his ass and the replacing presence of Spike's cock. Just a temporary absence, soon to be filled. He breathed, and realized he wasn't sure if he'd been doing that, all this time. Wasn't sure how much time had passed.

When he thought he could speak, he whispered, "Is that what it's like? 'Cause it's a hell of a way to go."

Spike lifted his face, blood lightly smearing his already red lips. Staring at him with fiery amber eyes. "No." His voice was smooth, dark, like his gravelly throat had been soothed by the blood. "No, not for...dying. That's not what it's like."

"Then..."

"That was...a bit like it is between two of us...two vampires. Though it's usually a lot rougher than that." Spike shook his head, as if trying to calm down, leaned it on Xander's shoulder, and slowly regained his human face. "Mostly..." he whispered, "that's what it's like between you an' me. "

He suddenly shot his head up to kiss Xander, full on the lips. Human blood... Xander's own blood on Spike's lips. Metallic, a little bitter, a little salty... Xander gulped, and licked it from Spike's lips, brushing his tongue over the flattened human teeth. Not...pretending it was come, not this time.

"O Neg?" Spike grinned.

Xander shook his head.

"Sure? Tasted like O Neg to me."

"Positive." Spike groaned at him. Bad pun. Bad. Too bad, vampire. You wanna discuss blood types, you haveta put up with Xander Harris' patented ready wit.

"You okay?" Spike asked in a moment.

"Well..." and Xander shifted his hips, pressing the bulge in his jeans against Spike's ass, "if you don't do somethin' about this, I won't be." Spike laughed at him, then, but it wasn't a mean kind of laughter.

"Yeah, I think maybe we can oblige. I meant...dizzy, or anything? Didn't take as much as if you'd donated blood, but..."

"Does that mean I get cookies and orange juice?" Xander teased. No, he wasn't dizzy, except in the 'Wow, what the hell was that?' sense. And he was a little more concerned with finishing off what Spike had started than getting his Red Cross donor points.

"We don't have any orange juice, and you ate all the cookies last night. 'Fraid you're stuck with Pepsi an' Ho-Ho's."

Xander shifted his hips again, and Spike chuckled.

Xander bopped him gently on the head. "You just ate the last Ho-Ho, dipstick. Now I'm gonna faint, and it's all your fault. So you'd better fuck me before I pass out. You owe me. "

Spike smirked knowingly. "There might be another package of Ho-Ho's. Might. In the cupboard behind the spanner and the gaffer tape and the plunger and.."

"The sign that says beware of the leopard. Don't hide chocolate from me, mister. We'll discuss that later." Not as good at that voice as he is...He sounds like he's gonna turn me over his knee and smack my ass 'til I beg him to fuck me into the wall, and I sound like... we're actually gonna discuss it later. Gotta work on that. "Right now..."

"Yeah, right now." And Spike slid from his lap down to the floor, on his knees between Xander's legs, undoing the buckle on the thin belt with alarming speed... button, zipper, and...

"Er...care to tell me why you're picking up my fashion habits, luv?" Spike asked a bit confusedly as he pulled Xander's hardened cock from the faded jeans, without any cartoon character boxers in his way.

"Experiment?"

Spike laughed as he lowered his head to Xander's cock. "Not that I mind, but if you really wanna pull that look off, you'll want a tighter pair of trousers. It's not supposed to be a surprise. " Then that beautiful mouth was otherwise occupied, sliding over the already-weeping head, licking and sucking, while his hands were tugging Xander's jeans completely off...and Xander lifted up to help, then leaned back happily.

Okay, blow-job, not what I was expecting, but not complaining.

Spike suddenly lifted his head, letting Xander's dick slide out from between his lips. He-ey...not fair...

"Experiment my arse-- you're out of clean knickers again!"

"Okay, maybe. So I'm being punished for it? No sex for the guy with no underwear?"

Spike sneered at him, shaking his head. "That wasn't sex, moron. That was lube." In an instant, the vampire had shifted the recliner so that Xander was lying almost flat on his back, and Spike was climbing up on top of him and...lowering himself onto Xander's fully erect cock, with a satisfied hiss.

"O---kay, we...can do that..." Xander breathed, as Spike began to rock on top of him, tight and smooth and just heavy enough on his hips to send jolts of pleasure careening around his nervous system every time the vampire's ass hit his pelvis. Just laying there and letting Spike fuck himself on him... that would've been a distinct possibility as Xander started to slide away inside to a place full of dark and light and motion, where he didn't have to do anything but be pleasured...

But he opened his eyes to look at Spike's face, twisted up in a manic smile, and he smiled back, reaching for Spike's cock, grasping it tight in his fist, letting the vamp's rapid movements on top of him guide the rhythm of his own pumping, as the friction of his hand warmed the cool, rigid shaft beneath his fingers. When he was almost sure he was about to go completely out of his mind, from the tightness around him, the hardness in his hand, the smirky infuriating vampire bouncing up and down on him, and maybe just a little dizziness... Spike froze, shooting into his hand, down his arm, sticky and warm-cool, and just a bit more and Xander would be just as... Spike looked down at him, and nodded, grinding down suddenly against his hips, and Xander was gone. Eyes closed, hissing out Spike's name, black behind his eyelids, cool and comforting as he emptied himself into his...smartass...dangerous...but so damn good...lover.

Spike's body still on his lap, legs astride him, felt just too right, so when Spike pulled himself off with a slick little sound, and swung his leg over the side of the chair, Xander groaned without opening his eyes.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?"

"Be right back..." Spike answered, disappearing entirely, and Xander gave a halfway-decent Spike-growl.

"Better be..." And Xander contented himself with slowly licking Spike's semen off his arm, comparing the taste. Spike was right. Sort of like peanut butter and chocolate. You'd never want to pretend one was the other...

And Spike was as good as his word, slipping back onto Xander's lap within a minute, and nudging his chest with something cold and metallic. Opening his eyes, Xander saw a familiar red-white-and-blue can in Spike's left hand, and a chocolate snack-cake in the other.

"Pepsi and a Ho-Ho, as promised. Wouldn't want to lose you or anything," Spike said earnestly.

*****

Spike watched contentedly as Xander sipped his way through the can of cola, and occasionally offered him a bite of chocolate. That had been... Not that he hadn't had human blood since the chip, but not directly out of a human. Certainly not Xander's blood, which was...different by the very virtue of it having been freely given. No fear, no threat of death, no sudden dawning realization that there was a monster at his throat. Just a gift, genuinely offered, shared between the two of them. Just life. When did a vampire ever get that? How many vampires ever wanted that? Just life.

He'd made another mistake, probably. He'd done something to further tie himself to this mortal who was going to, sooner or later, wake up and smell the ashes... But it was far too late to worry about that. If Xander hadn't been a part of him for a week... for months, maybe... he sure as hell was now. Spike was inextricably bound to the sable-haired boy with the bruised eyes and the self-mocking smile. Xander, running through his veins, long after the paltry amount of blood he'd taken would fade away.

They were going to go out. Really. That was the intention. Lie around for a while, then get dressed and go wreak havoc on evil. Try to avoid Slayer Patrol this time. Really, they were. But... it was just so damn comfortable, curled up in the chair, Xander's arms having slipped around him, his head on the mortal's warm chest, the steady heartbeat lulling him to sleep.

Before it overtook him completely, he managed to murmur, in what he hoped was a convincing voice, "I wasn't afraid."

Xander stroked his hair with one hand. Soft. Too damn soft. He's taking care of me. I...don't need to be taken care of... he does.

"No. Of course not."





Night 4: Just Desserts

Seven o'clock on a Monday night, and they had at least an hour before the twilight would be dark enough for Spike to venture outside, Xander once again in tow. This time for the usual demon hunting (and hopefully they'd actually find some this time?), but also a little training for Xander in how to use a helm-axe without chopping off his own foot. That, and a quick trip to the Food Mart, since they were out of cookies, and if there was one thing besides sex that made this dank, depressing basement actually livable, it was double chocolate chunk.

But with an hour to kill... Spike was sitting, fully clothed except for his boots and coat, legs outstretched, in the center of the still folded-out bed, leaning back against the upholstery. Xander, on the other hand, was wearing about half that amount of clothing, since his jeans and boxers were around his ankles, and he was draped face down over Spike's lap. Just the sort of scene you'd want your mother to walk in on.

Wherein you try to decide whether you should first introduce her to the guy who's been living in her basement off and on since December, or inform her that he's a vampire, which are, by the way, real, or try to explain why he's doing kinky things to her son...or just convince her that she should go have another cocktail and forget she'd ever come down the stairs. Um, he's English, Mom. It's a cultural exchange program. Which was why the door was firmly locked and bolted from the inside.

Spike, however, wasn't actually doing much in the way of kinky things to Mrs. Harris' boy, at the moment, aside from the obvious intent of the tableaux in the first place. He was tapping his slim fingers distractedly on Xander's bare back, just beneath the shirttail that he'd shoved up and out of his way a few minutes ago.

"So...what exactly is my motivation here, s'wat I want to know," Spike asked, in a blatant attempt to annoy the living shit out of Xander.

"Moti-va-tion?' Xander parodied. "Who the hell're you, Marlon Brando? This ain't method acting. It's just...fun. Matter of fact, once again, it was your idea."

Spike gave him a brief smack on the ass for that one. "Brando? Not in 'The Godfather,' I'm not. Maybe in 'On the Waterfront.' Anyway, I don't think I hallucinated somebody saying, 'About that thing you wanted to do, before you decided to snack on me last night...' " Spike's American accent was not improving.

"Yeah, I'm the pervert, Mister 'Somebody Needs To Be Punished..' So what's this crap about motivation?"

Spike leaned forward, resting his elbow on Xander's back. "Can I guess that while your ex may have a large and varied bag of tricks at her disposal, she's not all that bloody creative when it comes to the individual acts? The idea's to set the scene, Daft One. The question of the hour is, why do you need to be punished?"

Oh. "Well...I thought this was about getting you to admit you wouldn't kill me, chip or no chip?" Xander offered, dredging up the actual conversation from a memory overlaid with the feeling of his own blood flowing into Spike's mouth... Spike impaling himself on Xander's cock...What was the question, again?

"Oh yeah." A half-hearted spank on his left ass-cheek, then Spike stopped and just rested his hand there.

"Nah...would've said it anyway, sooner or later. You're such an insecure little rentboy, gotta keep you from drownin' in your own lack of ego."

"Gee, thanks, Dr. Freud."

"Met him, once. Swore I had some sorta issues with my mother. Couldn't convince him it was all about the big poncy twit of a father figure who took off an' left me to take care of me invalid sister. Lover. Mum. Whatever." Spike made little motions on Xander's ass, like he was writing something. Probably a treatise on how to make your lover bang his head against the mattress until his brains fall out, all from delayed gratification.

"You...are so fulla shit, Spike. You never met Freud, and you're stalling just to piss me off."

"Yeah, maybe. But the question is, what nasty little things have you done in your goody-goody white-hatted life, to deserve getting your arse beat?" Spike punctuated this with an eye-watering goose to the opposite cheek.

"And ow, and... fine. Let's see... I... served Buffy cursed beer and turned her into Cro-Magnon Slayer. That was just before you blew back into town from L.A. I think."

Spike snorted, and appeared to be choking on his own tongue. "The Slayer wandering around town in a fur bikini, lookin' for a mate? I'm seeing her meeting up with Fred Flintstone, somehow, and nine months later... Oh, that's priceless. You don't get punished for that one, you get chocolate. Later. "

"Well... she was underage. And so was I..."

Spike laughed again. "Still are, jailbait. Yeah. You and your Woodpecker. Who turned you on to that stuff, anyway? Thought hard cider was a purely English vice. Not that I'm complainin'."

"No, you wouldn't, since you drank it, you...bad houseguest. Giles...let me have a sip of his, once, and I was hooked. So, no punishment for fake ID and turning a drunk, devolved Slayer loose on the world?"

"Nope. Try again." Spike had evil in his voice, and it was all Xander could do not to twist around and kick the vampire. Not that he could've untangled his feet from his jeans, anyway.

"Um...told Buffy that Willow said to kick Angel's ass, when what she really said was that she was gonna try to do the soul-restoring spell again?"

"Ooh, that was petty and jealous. Nice one. But you actually did me a favor there. She was too busy kickin' his arse to worry about whether she really should've let me an' Dru take off. Plus it got rid of Soul-Free Psycho Boy, as you called 'im, which at least made me happy. Sorry again. No can do."

"Spiiiiike..."

Five stinging slaps on his ass shut him up nicely, which was the point of it all. "Play nice, little boy. Or I'll take my talented hands an' go home."

"You live here, asshole. Grrrr... Okay, I've got one. I made out with Willow when I was still dating Cordy and she was still dating Oz. And they caught us."

"Ahh, teen lust," Spike purred. "Yeah, that might be worth a decent hiding, if I gave a damn about the Prom Princess or the wolf. Mostly, the thought of you and Red playin' tongue-scrummage just gets me a bit cold and bothered."

Xander was actually aware of that, since he could feel the pressure of Spike's sudden hardness against his stomach...

"Pervert. There was no... okay, very little, tongue. Anyway, it was all your fault. You left us alone in that damn warehouse while you were off drinking hot cocoa with Joyce... Me with a Courtesy-Of-Spike concussion and not in my right mind in the first place. Cordy almost died, you know. Fell on a piece of rebar. All your fault."

"Yeah, you're right. That's terrible," Spike answered in heartfelt tones of sudden remorse. Bastard was up to something... "It was all my fault. Gave my poor little Xander a big lump on the head an' everything. Guess I oughtta pay the penalty..."

Xander twisted his head around. "Oh no you don't, you....big cheater. I won, fair and square."

Spike sniffed. "Yeah, like Scrabble's any decent way to figure out who gets spanked. Anyway, I would've won if you hadn't screwed me on that last turn."

"I don't care if you do have a cousin married to one-- if 'Frolox' isn't in the Scrabble dictionary, it's not a word. Bite me."

"Don't tempt me," Spike growled, pinching Xander's butt again. "There's a nice big target right in front of me."

"I do not have a big ass, and the point is, it's not your turn, so..."

"So tell me something really dirty an' disgusting you did, so I can justify whaling on your not-big-arse."

Xander grumbled, and growled, and pulled stitches out of the blanket, while Spike waited, apparently ready to sit there all day, if necessary.

Oh... there was one. Not a subject he'd really meant to bring up under these circumstances, but it might just get Spike pissed off enough to let loose...

"Okay, here's a bedtime story for you--you owe me an interesting one for this. I made time with your girlfriend. How's that for a dirty little secret?" Not too smug there, are we, spell-boy?

Spike choked, and sounded like he wasn't sure if he should be laughing or crying. "You made time... what, with Harmony? As a vamp ? Where was I, and who's got the film rights? What the hell were you on?'

Xander shook his head. "Not Harmony. Drusilla."

Spike was quiet. Then... "Come again? I didn't think you ever even met Dru."

"You mean, aside from when she and her coffee klatsch were vandalizing the school library and killing a good friend of mine? Or when I pulled Giles out of your creepy old haunted mansion after Angel nearly tortured him to death?"

"Can't argue with you about Dru baggin' the other Slayer, but Rupes was nowhere near death. Made sure of that m'self, actually. Anyway..." and a positively vicious goose this time, "what about you and Dru?"

"Valentine's Day, nineteen ninety-eight."

Spike rested both elbows on Xander's back. 'I'm listenin'. Gave Dru a five thousand quid necklace, Angelus gives her a still-warm human heart, guess who got laid that night? Not the bloke in the wheelchair. Didn't know I was in competition with you, too."

Xander propped himself up on his elbows as well. "Not exactly competition. Gave Cordelia a necklace too, just in time for her to dump me 'cause I was too much of a geek-boy for her to keep her rep as Queen Bitch of Sunnydale High."

"My sympathies, but I'm not seein' where this has anything to do with Dru so far."

"Getting there. Got pissed, decided to get even. I roped Amy Madison --y'know, Amy-currently-Willow's-pet-rat?-- into doing a love spell for me. On the necklace, which I'd got back from Cordy."

"So at least somebody got a leg over that night, which is nice, but it still doesn't explain this thing about you an' Dru. You're beginnin' to frustrate me..." A warning growl.

So, if I frustrate you, you'll what, smack me? Which I'm trying to get you to do anyway?

"Nobody got a leg over, if that means what I think it does. Except Psycho-Boy, apparently. The spell backfired, and instead of Cordy being in love with me, it was every woman in Sunnydale. Buffy, Willow, Amy...ulp...Joyce...everybody except Cordelia. Which includes your girl. Angel yanks me out a window, and here comes Drusilla to my rescue, in all her loony glory, tellin' me my face is a poem, and asking how I feel about eternal life... She did beat the crap out of Angelus, though, which was fun to watch..."

Silence from Spike, as the weight of his elbows was lifted off, and his fingers drummed on Xander's back again. Then a little snicker. A bigger one. Spike laughing and snorting and just generally losing it. Which was always nice to hear, but who exactly was frustrating who, here?

"Oh... God, I can just see it. Our Dru, kickin' the bastard's arse, Girl Power an' all. For once, instead of swannin' around as if 'is very farts smelled like Obsession for Vampires."

That image had even Xander trying to inhale his own esophagus. "That's...very...descriptive..." Giggle.

"Yeah, well, can't fault her for taste. On either count, I s'pose. If he hadn't been such a shit-for-brains bastard when he showed back up, that is. And if you hadn't been real jailbait at the time. Naughty Dru."

"Oh, fine. Go spank Dru, then." Grumpy, grumpy, Spike's just trying to piss you off...don't give him the satisfaction...

All right. Fine. It was time for the last-ditch effort. He'd had a clue this would happen, anyway, so on his way home from work, he'd stopped at the Spencer Gifts in the mall. For a little insurance. Either it would count as something naughty enough to get Spike going, or he'd at least get even with the vampire for being such an annoying little shit.

"Look, if you're gonna cock-tease all night, could you at least give me that Hershey bar on the table? Might as well have somethin' to do while you decide whether you can work up the motivation to come through on your side of the deal."

"Yeah, s'pose..." Spike's hands disappeared from Xander's back, as the vampire leaned over to the bedside table and retrieved the paper-and-foil-wrapped bar from where it leaned against the lamp-base. "No, on second thought, who says you deserve chocolate? You can't even come up with a single piece of decent naughtiness. You lack creativity. I think I get the chocolate."

"Jerk," Xander muttered, smiling into the blanket as Spike tore open the wrapper. Crinkled the foil. Sniffed. Smacked him loudly and painfully on the ass.

"Oi! Soap? You would've let me eat bloody soap thinkin' it was chocolate? Not to mention you thought I was stupid enough not to smell it first. What kind of sick, twisted bastard are you? "

Xander smirked like Spike on speed. "A bad one. Really bad. Especially since I had to eat the real Hershey bar and re-wrap the soap so you wouldn't get suspicious... I'd say naughty, even. I obviously need to be taught a lesson."

Spike laughed delightedly as he brought his hand down again. "See, now. You're learning. One of us'll corrupt the other, yet."

Xander, chewing on the blanket, half laughing, half concentrating on the delicious feel of a cool hand crisply smacking his ass to a nice toasty warmth, was rather hoping to remain the corruptee.





Night 5: What For

"A mirror in your sleeping place, made from a black metal... A dark mirror...That was always the intention...But the gulf between concept and execution is wide, and many things can happen on the way."

--Morpheus (The Sandman, created by Neil Gaiman)

*******

Some games just don't get old. Not with this one around...Spike thought, a bit dazedly, a bit happily. Scrabble, two nights in a row, that would get old, but this game, for instance...Spike was quite willing to play the debauched old lecher leading the fresh-faced youngling down the path of no return. Again. Not that Spike wasn't literally pretty fresh-faced himself, but still. Nor was this exactly high-end, as debaucheries went. For somebody as goody-two-shoes as Xander, however, it would certainly do, no matter how many times he'd played it with Anya. He'd never done it with a man before last night, and never with Spike, and that had been quite enough to give Spike the tastefully twisted thrill of sharing one of his favorite kinks with a wide-eyed innocent.

Was still quite enough, with the challenge in the back of his mind that he was supposed to be acting as if this were the first time. No witty badinage. No Sunnydale history lessons. Just an agreement that this time they didn't have to argue about what somebody was being punished for. Just bloody get on with it. A bit more real and hot, traded for a bit less deliciously embarrassing. All sounded good to him. Might've sounded better from down there instead of up here, but he was being a good evil demon, and playing fair... as fair as he could bring himself to, anyway...

***

Shake...rattle...roll... Flip, and watch the bloody sands of time tick away the fact that Xander had been playing this game since first grade and Spike was drawing a blank on any four letter words besides the obvious ones.

"Dafe is not a word, Spike," Xander said finally, as the last grains of what was probably actually salt trickled through the timer, and the human leaned over to grin at Spike's scratched-up scorecard.

"I know it's not a blinkin'... oh. Thought that was a 'T'." He crunched away resentfully on a handful of chocolate-dipped pretzels, less than happy about being caught out in an allegedly intellectual game by the only non-collegiate Scooby Gang member.

"Uh-huh. Do vampires get nearsighted? Time for a pair of those reading glasses with the little chain around the back so you don't forget they're on your head? Old Man?" Xander sneered at him, flashing his winning wordlist under Spike's nose.

"Don't push your luck, boy..." Spike growled menacingly, but Xander only laughed.

"Is there a game you don't cheat at? Poker? Chess?"

"Don't need to cheat at poker, don't play chess, wasn't cheating now, and I would've wiped the floor with your arse at Trivial Pursuit," Spike replied grumpily.

"That would be why we didn't play Trivial Pursuit, O Lint-Trap for Useless Information..." Xander grinned back.

"Wasn't so useless when I told you which bit of a Mathgarau to chop off with your little axe, now, was it?"

"And whose bloodless ass did I pull out of the fire by doin' that, huh? Not mine own..."

"....Rrrrrr.....Xander, your family doesn't even speak to each other unless they're rowing. Why the hell do you have a stack of board games up to the ceiling?" When about to be shown up as an idiot, change the subject. Spike's Laws of Survival, Number Three.

"Stupid but well-meaning relatives. Every Christmas since... probably before I was born. I mean... there's an unopened Mystery Date box on the bottom of the stack, for god's sake. You blew best two out of three at Boggle-- wanna go for a really challenging game?"

Spike sighed. "No, you'd get the trust-fund guy and I'd end up with the geek with the pocket protector an' the plaid pants, and don't you dare ask how I know what's inside that game box."

" Don't think I won't be filing that away for future use, but not what I meant. I won. Again. The challenge part would be, you manage to play like last night never happened."

Spike blinked at him. "Thought we were a bit past that game, pet."

Xander tossed a pretzel at his head. "Not permanently, cheesedick. Just for tonight. Like it was the first time, with none of that shit about me havin' to come up with a reason for it. Just you yankin' me down on the bed and pulling my jeans off and walloping the hell out of me until I yell stop or your damn hand falls off. You wanna give me what for along with it, go for it, but you get to exercise your much-vaunted creativity. All I have to do is lay there and take it. You game ?"

Took Spike a minute to swallow the suddenly dry pretzel crumbs in his mouth. "Yeah, think I might be up for that." He was technically supposed to still be sulking, however, so he had to give it one last shot..

"Would've won...' he mumbled not quite under his breath.

"But..." Xander filled-in like a good little less-than-straight man.

"Gave me a right-handed pencil, didn't you?" That earned him a barrage of pretzels.

***

It assisted Spike's much-vaunted creativity immensely that the arse smiling up at him from his lap was so nicely shaped, and rippled so prettily when his hand smacked into it. There was also a bit of an oddity, a personal little hmmm... that Spike hadn't come across before last night-- the fact that it was turning a nice shade of light pink, under the naturally tan skin. A good sort of tingly strangeness, as if Xander really was corrupting him as well. A well-fed vamp might bleed a bit if you cut him, but blushing, in regard to either set of cheeks, was right out. Fun times with humans, chapter seventeen. The sight was putting him in a pleasant, warm place, so he thought he'd best return the favor.

"And while we're on the subject..." he continued the mock tirade he'd begun a few moments ago, "what the hell did you think you were doin', ironing my shirt? I like it wrinkled!" Smack. Smack.

Xander breathed in sharply, and let it out in a confused, "Huh?" before grabbing the blankets tightly.

"My shirt, whelp. The one you nicked off the chair Sunday night? Lookin' like Martha bloody Stewart's been over it with a steam iron and a lint-brush now? Ruins my image, dunnit." SMACK!

"Didn't. Just... washed it." Xander gasped.

"Eh? Oh. Shit. Guess you didn't. The witches were gonna fix you up with a spell for that, if you brought 'em extra treats on Tuesday. Must've put it on the whole place. Fine. " Smack, smack, smack. "That was for makin' me look like a right idiot."

Which made no more sense than anything else he'd said, but this wasn't really supposed to make much sense beyond the disciplinarian tones and the reactions of the suitably chastened body wriggling on his lap. Getting into the rhythm of it a bit, moving toward the requested 'walloping' as opposed to last night's gentle teasing, he found that he didn't really need to say much of anything. Xander was doing most of the work for him, squirming enticingly against him, making it exceedingly obvious by the contact between their bodies that they were both more than a little aroused by the whole affair. That the boy really was enjoying it. Little squeaking noises, every so often, just like...

Like Dru, though without her throaty laughter, and he found himself unwillingly comparing them again, for the hundredth time, and coming up with far too many similarities. Lovely and dark, far too young-- no matter their ages in years--shattered and put back together like crazy-paving. Both too attracted to things that would hurt 'em, sooner or later. Both loving pain, of one sort or another. He's not Dru. And one of the nastier voices in his head muttered But he'll leave you just like she did, won't he. And be better off for it, too.

Maybe. Probably. But while he had the chance, Spike wouldn't let anybody do to Xander what had been done to Dru. Not the driving mad, not the buggering off, not the patronizing use and abuse when he returned. Obviously Oedipal enough for you, Siggy? Always bloody came back to him, didn't it? As if he had any interest in Xander Harris. Unless he knew Spike did, and then he'd find a way to muck it up somehow, even in his goody-good souled form. And he would, sooner or later, figure it out. Because he could read Spike like a bloody dimestore novel, when he wasn't too distracted by something else blonde, with bigger tits.

But it wasn't really Angel whom Spike feared. There were a million creative ways to break somebody into jagged shards, and a million bastards out there waiting to do it. And there was somebody he had to protect, now. Wouldn't deny it made him feel a bit more like a man and less like a blinkin' eunuch. There'd been his little girl, sister, mother, wife...who didn't want him anymore. Now there was this man-child. The wise-arsed fragile little hedgehog that he was beginning to think of as his boy, despite the jeering from his own mental cheap seats. And Spike feared. Repetition. Making somebody else's mistakes. The past around every bloody corner, and who's brooding when he's supposed to be having fun now ?

Somewhere in the middle of Spike's trip to the past, Xander had kicked off his shorts and trousers, as the smacking got a little more intense. The bare legs that shifted and occasionally scissored on the bed were strong. Scattered with dark hairs. Certainly no Drusilla similarities there. So one's got a cock and one has fangs. One's mad and one's...maybe just a little bent, maybe as twisted up as I am. Tell me the difference again? One's here. No. Not fair. One's Dru, one's Xander. One's lost, one's...

He put his right hand flat on Xander's back, as he continued to smack with his left, and realized he'd definitely reached the walloping stage. The globes that had been just a bit pink before were turning a nice cherry red. But there wasn't much of a change in the way Xander was writhing atop his lap. There wasn't any blinding pain in his head. Still, probably not a lot more, now. When he eased off a bit, though, Xander actually pushed up against his hand, as if complaining. Spike chuckled under his breath. If that was the way of it...

So he got back into the swing of things. Peppered both cheeks with firm swats, drifting down to the tops of the muscular thighs every so often. Steady. Hard, but not actually harsh. Well, not too harsh. He wasn't actually punishing Xander for anything, after all. This was about... fun, he was going to say to himself, but love... slipped in there before he could finish the thought. Love, and giving him what he wants. Yeah, probably, but if you said it, there went half the depravity, didn't it. Or maybe it was even more depraved.

Maybe it was him moving his hand again, the one on Xander's back. Unconsciously rubbing a tiny circle, over and over, as if giving pain and comfort at the same time. The left hand giveth... Maybe it was a change in the pressure on Xander's skin, a change in the central air that filtered down from upstairs as the currents shifted and the basement suddenly got a whole lot warmer. A change in the moon outside the cheaply-curtained windows. Maybe it was Spike stepping up the rhythm with his left hand. Maybe it was Spike, never pausing, looking down to be sure, and asking softly, just to check he hadn't gone too far, maybe to get a little feedback for his own vanity---"How're you feelin'?"

 

*****

And Xander had been... in a good place. Good...kinda edgy...Thinking every so often that this was the one that would make him cry uncle, but no... 'Cause that one was just right, just the right place, just the right feeling, something to fight against, something to take, just making him hot all over. Being held down, in a safe place, and Spike's two arms, one holding him there, one dishing it out. Able to kick and growl and fight all he wanted, as long as he didn't say stop, and he wasn't, really wasn't about to say stop, stop was the farthest thing from his mind anymore.

Wasn't a hell of a lot that made sense going on in his mind at all, but whatever was happening, it was like ache and fire and somebody putting them together to make his body a damn fine place to be stuck right now... He was so glad he'd thought of asking again and so damn glad he'd won and Spike had lost if Spike really thought he'd lost, 'cause Spike seemed to be getting a kick out of it too, not that Xander was really able to concentrate on anything outside himself at the moment.

And it got warmer and things shifted and it started to build to something... reaching for it, almost stretching,

And Spike rubbing his back, just a little distraction, just something that was making him think.. don't comfort me, stupid, I don't need... and Spike leaning down a bit, closer, and he had to go and whisper... whisper... "How're you feelin'?" and dammit... don't ask me that...

And he was somewhere else, and it wasn't safe, and he wasn't being held, he was... it was hot and [how're you feelin'...] he was scared shitless, that was how, and he didn't even know this girl who left him...stuck outside... waiting, alone with, not alone but, they shouldn't be here, just him. Alone in his head with the damn ...seeing it, twisted, monsters, everything he knew, twisted up. Hearing the damn music...hated this song, had always hated the damn pulsing heat inside under the lights when it played like the song and the half-dark and the backhiss through the amps were all just made to send him into the night screaming [don't dream at all], never close his eyes again.

Hated this thing in his hand, hated the song, hated being here and when they got in and after out, how could he ever walk in this place again... And they were in and music or not...still in his head [inside my bones]

Bodies moving like they could get somewhere, in his way, only came for one damn thing, already too late [really wish...] but he had to be here. His place, his... his... let go. He'd let go, and... been ripped away, and another girl, there'd been one with...fuckin' evil little smile, and sure she was here somewhere, but that wasn't... hot, it was too... [cold day ] hot and there.

There. Here. Same.. same...face...just not the same. Just... his fault. His fuckin' fault. Not Will , not any new hot blonde... not anybody but him, letting go then and this thing in his hand now and this thing in front of him daring him to do it. [Wished I could have] And it was too damn hot or not hot enough and he hated...everything...mostly Xander, mostly him. Pussy who couldn't do it. Hated this place, hated the body that pushed the body that looked like somebody that fell on this damn thing in his damn hand [come to kill what's left] that was holding nothing-- shit-all nothing. Because everything was gone, and he was alone here. Just him. Just the one he hated most of all. [from myself...] In the hot-cold dark. Somewhere out there was...somebody... but hell if Xander could think how to get from here to there.

 

*****

 

Something changed, anyway, because where there was an enthusiastic body twisting down on Spike's lap, in an instant there was a still one. Not still with the bonelessness of sleep or relaxation, or even the sacrificial victim position that had represented the boy's fear of being taken, that first time.

A frozen sort of stillness, jumping with anticipation without twitching a muscle. As if concentrating on moving and receiving sensation at the same time was just too hard of a job. Spike stopped, his hand in mid-air.

"Hey," he said softly, again. "You okay down there?"

After a second, a low snarl. "Don't talk."

"It's just that you're turnin' sort of Willow-colored, which might be a good sign for..."

Lower still... "Don't. Be quiet."

Spike laughed. Well, tried to. "And that, my friend, is what's known as topping from the bottom. Sir, yes sir."

"Shut up."

There was no laughter in that voice. Nothing of the repartee that had gone on before this all got quite so heated. Just... a forlorn request. Not really an order. Spike resumed his smacking, a little harder. Not at all happy with the direction he sensed this was going. Feeling Xander's skin grow hot beneath his hand. A faint tremor in the back muscles. A touch of labor in the breathing. He slowed again.

"About time..."

"Does your head hurt?" Xander hissed.

"Er...no..."

"Did I say stop?"

"No."

"Then get on with it."

Spike shook his head, even though he knew Xander had no way of seeing. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Don't..." And there was loss in that, and fear, in the sound, in the scent, the need to be forgiven for something, or not to be forgiven. This was more of an order, but a desperate one, and it was ripping at Spike, because he knew this place. He'd been there, where Xander was, or someplace like it, and he'd been here, where he was now, with Dru screaming at him to take all her badness away. It was black, and it was red, and it was full of the things that live under the beds of even the monsters that live under beds, and it was never anything so innocently soft-core as the scene in this room right now. If it hadn't been so damned...He was wrong. Nothing soft here.

"Xander..." but he quickened his pace, the memory within his body reacting to the need in that voice, in that body. "This isn't about chocolate flavored soap, now. What am I punishing you for, eh?"

"Shut up." A low litany, repeated like Dru had done the real ones, sometimes, lying in bed in the middle of the night, as if whispering the empty holy words over and over could carry her back to the novitiate, before the blood and stars and roses. "Shut up, shut up, shut up..."

"No. What the hell did you ever do? What could you 'ave possibly done?" Nothing. Nothing that ever came out of this boy could have been dark enough for this sudden hole of wanting, of desire for ... what, pain, punishment... humiliation? No, the boy got enough of that last on his own. The blackness he could see in those eyes, when he looked, at times... that came from something else. It had been...imposed.

The body rigid, twitching, the head sunk to the mattress, the fingers grasping the blankets as if they were about to tear holes three feet long... A desolate voice, lost somewhere, but filled with its own strange sense of power: "I don't have to tell you." It wasn't a question.

Spike was pretty close to shaking himself, but this wasn't the time. My turn. Mine to take care of him.

"No. You don't have to."

And he did his best. Smacked away until Xander's breathing was beyond labored, until the skin under his hand had turned a dusky rose, until Spike was just...this close. This bloody close...

"That's enough." he said suddenly, trying to be firm. Trying to control at least himself, if not the aching child in his lap.

Xander tossed his head. Kicked once at the bedclothes. "No. It's not enough... I need...to get there. Here. This..."

Oh, hell. Don't do this to me. Don't be another Dru already. Don't bloody make me too late. Don't make me hurt you, really hurt you, just to pull you back from wherever you've gone. Don't be that much like her. Don't think I can do it again. It wasn't about the chip. Not about fearing his own artificial pain. Just Xander. Just not wanting to break him, just not wanting to find out that he was already permanently broken.

"I know." And he finished what he could, in a few seconds, as much as he could. Gave what he was able to. Then he stopped. That simple. No more.

"Spike.. I need..."

"Yeah, I know. But that's enough. You don't know when to stop." Rubbing his own patterns on Xander's back, with both hands, trying to brand his fingerprints in this boy, his boy, just by touching, softly. Not going near the angry skin that lay below. Xander wriggled away, sliding off Spike's lap.

Curled up at the farthest edge of the bed, facing away, on his side. Spike shook his head again.

No. He wasn't going to lose this one. Not like this. Not to some invisible demons he couldn't even fight with fangs or an axe. He slid over to Xander's side, and placed his arm over Xander's.

"Don't touch me."

Oh, an old friend. We recognize that voice, don't we. Self-disgust in the shower, rearing its ugly mug. Well me an' the voices in my head can take you any day, tosser. I think.

"Right..." he said uncertainly, pulling his arm back. Just lying there on his own side, staring at Xander's back. Every day. Every other day. There had to be something new, to tear each other up with. Another reason to drive the other one away. Fall down in his head with a monster above, or watch Xander go somewhere away inside where he couldn't reach. Because neither of them deserved to have somebody who loved them, obviously. Well, that might be true in Spike's case, but in Xander's...Fuck that.

"Y'know...don't think I can do that, actually," he said matter-of-factly.

"Then don't let me go," Xander whispered, and rolled over into Spike's arms, face to face. He was back, from wherever it was he'd gone, but he looked like he could disappear again at any minute.

"I can do that." And he wrapped his arms tight around his boy. Making damn sure Xander knew he wasn't going anywhere. Just stared into those shuttered eyes as if he could find the answer Xander wouldn't give him. Waited, until those eyelids drooped, the breathing slowed, and Xander was sleeping in his arms. Extricated himself as softly as he could, and stalked sock-footed over to the bathroom, to get that damned bottle of moisturizer from the medicine chest. Just a few seconds gone, hoping against hope that Xander wouldn't wake up alone before he could slip back into bed.

He was safe. Xander still almost-snored as Spike climbed gingerly over him and put his arms back where they belonged.

***

So much for demon hunting this time. Unless they wanted to head out at three a.m., and Spike wasn't really in the mood. Sad sort of vamp he was, really. Xander, yawning and blinking, and wincing when he unconsciously rolled over onto his back, wasn't really in any condition, either.

Spike just watched him as he made his way back from sleep, and was finally met with a sheepish grin.

"Okay, that was... not one of my finer moments. And I've got a lot of not finer moments to not be fine with." Xander rolled over on his stomach. Not an exceptionally heartening sight, Spike decided, studying the still tortured-looking skin on the otherwise delicious arse, somewhat less than dispassionately. Still... Xander wasn't lost. He'd come back. This time.

"You gonna do that every time?" Spike asked, reaching for the bottle of skin cream.

Xander laughed. A bit shakily. "Um... I'll go with no on that one. I just kinda... went off somewhere."

Filling his palm with cool lotion, Spike began to softly rub it onto Xander's skin, watching the boy jump at the unexpected change in temperature.

"Yeah. Noticed. You gonna tell me where?"

Xander shook his head. "No. You mind?"

Spike thought about it. Hard. About the truth, and how much of it was safe to actually say. "Wish you would, but it's your head."

"I...no. Okay?"

"Yeah. Okay. So..."

"So...no. Won't happen again. If this ever...well, I guess you wouldn't want to, after that."

"That's not what I was askin', and don't make promises you can't keep, and I can still wipe the streets with you at Trivial Pursuit, so don't you bet on it. " Spike tried not to touch too hard, wincing with each twitch of Xander's back and legs when he did.

"Oh...kay. I guess. So?" Xander lay his head on his forearms, crossed on the pillow.

"So... you wanted a bloody bedtime story..."

Xander curled deeper into the mattress. "Maybe tomorrow? Y'know, when I can actually look you in the face again?"

Spike took a minute to stroke the boy's hair. Felt Xander relax under his touch.

"You can look me in the face now, idiot."

"I, ah...meant literally, actually," Xander replied with a soft huff of laughter. "Y'know, instead of lookin' at the mattress."

"Oh... I kinda like you when you're lookin' at the mattress..." Spike purred, suddenly squirting a cold line of lotion down Xander's back.

"Jerk..."

"Idiot."

"Vampire."

"Stockboy."

"Soccer fan..."

"Football, dammit."

"Can I say that mentioning Willow in connection with the color of my ass was not a particularly bright idea?"

"Heard that, did you? Human."

"Ooh... you wound me with your devastating English wit. If you really want to make me happy..."

"Yeah. What, luv?" Spike rubbed the lotion into Xander's back, feeling the muscles tense and relax, just...glad there was somebody there.

"Get me a cookie. Double-chocolate chunk."

"Oh, you're back. Fine, then. But no crumbs on the pillow. Sick of washin' 'em out of my hair."


The bracketed lyrics that wander through Xander's head are from "Ballad For Dead Friends" by Dashboard Prophets. Which may or may not give away more than it should, but I'd rather give credit where credit's due, than worry about being sneaky. ;-)





Night 6: Fish Story

Xander stomped his way down the basement stairs huffily, Spike following with a half-amused shake of his white-blond head. Enjoying the view, what he could see of it over the unwieldy bag of weapons in his arms. Xander Harris: dark hair, loose curls, growing a little long on the back of the currently dusty neck...well-built form encased in a gray sweatshirt, and... Well, nothing's ever quite perfect, is it?

"Nothin'." Thump. "Nothin'." Thump, thump. "Nothin'." Down to the concrete floor. "This is the freakin' Hellmouth. Plan a Tupperware party, get a rain of toads. Maybe an arm in a box. Take a nice peaceful walk, get jumped by every demon and vamp in a five-mile radius. But go looking for 'em? Nooooooo. Nada. Squat. Where are they-- all staying home to watch Survivor?"

"Maybe they were all just too afraid of those trousers to come near. I'd vote you off the island for 'em..." Spike commented, glancing down at Xander's neon-green sweats. They were bright enough to warn off a pack of blind cave-demons at five hundred meters.

Xander grimaced. "Yeah, well. Loosest thing I own." He belly-flopped crossways on the unmade bed, kicked off his tennis shoes, and scavenged around for something beneath one of the pillows.

Er... yeah. There was that. Xander would hardly be in the mood for tight jeans after last night's...interesting...excursion into the Twilight Zone of the human's darker spanking fantasies. Or whatever it was that had been going on in that pretty, muddled head of his.

"Right. Understood. So... you wouldn't actually be upset if I burned them for entertainment value tomorrow while you're at work?" Spike gave up trying to find a place to unpack the assorted implements of mayhem, and let the thick canvas bag fall to the floor with a resounding clang.

"This thing you have about my clothes... have you considered seeing someone?" Xander asked, twisting around to glare at Spike.

"Thought I was seeing you. What, you wanna see other demons now?" The vampire stretched, trying to unkink muscles he'd forgotten he owned. At least their foe-less foray tonight had landed them this sweet little treasure trove of blunt instruments and sharp objects, found in the abandoned nest of a Dagonish demon.

Packrats and opportunists, the lot of 'em. The little froglike cthuloids weren't big enough to use most of these lovelies, but they'd fence 'em, for a tidy profit. Somebody'd got to the Dagonish elsewhere, before it had the chance to come home and shift this little windfall, but its loss was Spike's gain. Spike and Xander's gain. Heavy, awkward gain, though, and after a half-mile of carrying them through the darkened streets, his back was killing him. He pulled off his duster and tossed it on the chair.

"I wanted to see some other demons tonight, but the Hellmouth pisses on Xander's head again..." the boy answered, flipping through the magazine he'd dug out from between the sofa-back and the edge of the mattress.

"When'd you start caring whether we actually met up with any demons or not? I thought you were just keeping me company?" Spike reached into the bag of sharp stuff and extracted a neat little fourteenth century dagger, with a nicely-decorated silver hilt: demonically-twisted skulls and bones, with briar roses threaded in and out of the eyesockets. Non-human work. Good balance. Worth a bit more money as an artsy antique than as a weapon, but who was he gonna try to sell it to: Joyce Summers? Bloodbaths on the Hellmouth, an artistic legacy, now showing at the Fourteenth Street Gallery.

Maybe there was something in the stash that was more appropriate for Xander to use than that ridiculous "little" helm-axe that was almost too big for him to swing. Not the dagger--Xander tended to trip over his own feet if he was concentrating on hand-to-hand dexterity. Unless the military bloke in Xander's subconscious decided to put in an appearance; then he really was a treat to watch. Fighting their way back out of the Initiative, after everything went bollocks-up, he'd sneaked a few glances at Xander battling demons and other nasties alongside the Slayer.

Spike wondered if the boy even realized how well he'd been doing. Wondered if the military atmosphere, which Spike otherwise detested, had triggered the confident, competent mind that knew how to use that well-put-together body to best advantage, or if it had always been there. Even before a cursed Halloween costume had turned Xander into soldier-for-a-day, over two years ago, and left the lingering memories as a sometimes useful gift.

"Mmmm?" Xander said, looking up from the magazine. Apparently as distracted as Spike had been, obviously for different reasons. What was he reading? "Oh, why do I care about finding some demons? 'Cause the weapons are cool, and I kinda wanted to try that bastard sword."

"Not your poison," Spike assured him. "Not without a bit more practice than you've had. Stick with the sweatpants and your mouth until we find you somethin' better."

"I am a great kisser, but I'm not playing tonsil hockey with demons and vamps. Besides you."

Yeah, you are a great kisser, but not the point. Spike had meant that gormless, annoying, and occasionally blinding humor that managed to babble its way out of Xander's mouth. Nonetheless, it gave Spike an excruciatingly obnoxious thrill of pleasure to hear Xander say, even as a laugh, that he wasn't going to be using his mouth's other talents on anybody else. Well, kissing, at least. There were other things Xander could do with his mouth... that Spike wasn't too keen on him sharing with the rest of the demon population of Sunnydale either.

Xander. Fighting. Nice. Not that Spike wasn't getting a rush out of looking at Xander doing anything these days. It had been great though, in the middle of the underground bunker, to see that body doing what Spike knew it was capable of, if Xander's own insecurities weren't getting in the boy's way. Not that Spike was supposed to have been looking, at the time... but he had been, just the same. Almost got his head bashed in by a big old unidentifiable nasty, actually, while he was watching Xander take on a Wendigo with a borrowed bayonet and a cocky grin.

It was something he was hoping to coax out of his now-lover. Just every so often. He didn't want to lose the wise-arse, or even the infuriating puppy-child, just to find the fighter.... but Xander'd looked good in fatigues. Unlike a certain bleached-blond vampire Spike knew and loved, who , on the two occasions when he'd had to put on the military drag, most likely had resembled an 'evil olive', to quote Willow.

Right, weapon. He set down the dagger. Something heavy enough to hack and slash with, light enough not to knock the boy on his arse, and long enough to keep him out of range of the nasties while Spike did most of the actual work. Because the concept wasn't to put Xander in danger. It was to have some fun. Together. Fun. Right.

Yet again Spike marveled at the concept that Xander was still clueless as to how completely…lost… Spike was over him. Fun? With Xander Harris? William the Bloody, and Alexander Harris, hanging out? Trolling for adventure on a Sunnydale night? Came pretty close to an actual date, Hellmouth-style, if there'd been the chance that anyone would see them together. Spike, having non-horizontal fun with Xander. Bothered and bewildered, utterly and without a doubt. Yeah, kid, it's all about the sex.

Sex. Mouth. Kissing. Boy's here, Spike. You can wax philosophical on his finer points when you don't have the opportunity to sample 'em.

"I meant, you'll just have to use your alleged rapier wit, as clown prince of stand-up." Spike crawled onto the bed beside Xander, stretching out to his full length, feeling muscles twitch and begin to really ache. They'd heal by morning (or, rather, by the time he woke in the early evening, if he could get himself back on a decent sleeping schedule), but for right now, he was just this side of knackered.

"Hey, get your boots off. I just changed these sheets this morning. Don't want Dagonish droppings on 'em."

"Nag, nag, nag." But Spike sat back up, unlaced his Docs, and kicked them across the room, before turning back to lie next to Xander. Peeking over his shoulder at the magazine the human was perusing intently.

"Truth-- you buy it for the fascinating Voyager schematics, or the two-page spread of Seven-of-Nine in the silver bikini?"

Xander looked over at him, their faces inches away from each other. Grinned. "Bought it for the articles. Possibly also to test whether Seven-of-Nine in a silver bikini still does it for me."

Spike grinned right back. "Does she?"

"Yeah. Just not as much as you do. Which pretty much says everything there is to say about my mental status at this point." Xander rolled onto his left side, facing Spike. "And you…owe me a bedtime story. "

Spike groaned. "Once upon a time there was an annoying American git who got a fanwank magazine shoved up his arse. I, for once, am tired. "

"You?"

"Those things were heavy, and you spent the whole walk back singing "I Know A Song That'll Get On Your Nerves…" and swinging your damned helm-axe until you caught it in that telephone pole. Where it can bloody well stay, for all I care. Too big for you anyway. I'm tired, my back hurts, I don't fancy coming up with a tale from the Brothers Grimmer for you tonight."

"Poor vampire. Tough shit. I told you the sordid tale of my brief but passionate affair with Dru. It's your turn. I was a good boy, I went to work, I paid the rent, I bought you Nestle's Quik 'cause you said you'd never had it before. I. Want. My. Story."

He punctuated each of the last four words with a poke at Spike's t-shirt-covered chest, and Spike looked at him like he'd gone utterly barmy. Until the vampire remembered that Xander was utterly barmy, and that's why he was lying stretched out three inches away from Spike, and there was a decent chance Spike might get lucky tonight. Luckier.

 

*****

Xander waited. Grinned. Spike owed him a smutty story about the vampire's past, and he was damn well gonna get it. It was a night overdue, actually, though he wasn't exactly in the mood for it last night. Or rather, in the wee hours of this morning, after he'd woken up from his exhausted sleep and a bit of rationality had begun to creep over his mind. A bit of rationality, and a hell of a lot of Oh, God, what did I just do, and if Spike didn't think I was nuts before, he's gotta be ready to run screaming away now...

Because surely even an admittedly insane vampire would be freaked by Xander Harris flipping out on him in the middle of what was supposed to be a bit of kinky fun, and demanding...something else. He'd been about to bury his head in the pillow when he woke up, just wait there 'til Spike wised up and took off, but somehow he hadn't. He'd faced up to his own whatever-he'd-done, to an extent, and waited for Spike to freak.

Thing was, Spike never did. Not during. Not after, not while Spike was holding Xander close to him, just looking into his eyes, as Xander tried to make his way back from the dark place he'd fallen into, and had at last drifted into a dreamless sleep. Not after he'd woken up, and Spike just calmly asked if that was going to happen every time. Meaning... that Spike wasn't taking off. That there might even be a next time.

So Xander hadn't ruined everything. Whatever everything was. Spike hadn't laughed it off like it never happened, and in a way, Xander was grateful for that. It forced him to accept it himself, and... just go on. Like there was another option? Spike had been... kind, which was almost too much to take, but other than that, he'd just gone on. Like it didn't matter. Like it happened to him every day, and it didn't change a damn thing. Like it wouldn't bother him if it happened again, he just wanted a little advance warning.

If Spike can shake it off, I damn well can. Have to. Might never be able to look at Willow's hair again without blushing, but… But Spike owed him a story, and if Xander could tease it out of him, he'd obviously returned to the same old dopey geek he'd always been. He wasn't sure if he was trying to convince himself or Spike, but...either way, it seemed to be working. He could smile again, anyway.

Spike was still just looking at him, like he couldn't believe anybody had the balls to poke the Big Bad in the chest and live to tell about it. And that had Xander grinning even wider. Who's afraid of the Big Bad Spike? Not me! If he hasn't killed me yet, God knows what it would take. Besides, I know he gets cold if he's alone in bed and he looks completely goofy walking around naked with only his socks on, and his shins are ticklish. That's gotta be worth some sorta hush money.

"Well? Story. Story story story story….." He did his best impression of Spike trying to annoy him, and got a raised eyebrow for his trouble.

"What's in it for me?"

"Rent-free luxury accommodations?" Xander offered sarcastically, waving a hand at their surroundings.

"Yeah, about the rent…" Spike gave him The Look. Or at least he thought it was The Look.

"Not moving, can't afford it, cope and deal," Xander replied, glancing down at the Jeri Ryan pseudo-centerfold so he didn't have to look at Spike. Come on. Lay off the basement. Yeah, it sucks, but I'm just not… I dunno. Ready to leave those two alone up there on a permanent basis.

"No, I just meant if I can sell some of that lot we brought home tonight, I might have some green to chip in," Spike explained.

Oh. It wasn't The Look. It was the "Spike's Embarrassed Because He's Gonna Say Something Squishy and Human" look. So easy to confuse.

"No biggie. You need it for blood money. I'm not worried about the rent, Spike." He looked back up at the vampire, who was grimacing at him.

"Yeah, maybe. But I hate being such a…"

"Rentboy?" Xander teased. Spike had called him one not that long ago. Just meaning he had that damn fragile look, the one that made everybody's mom but his own want to feed him hot chocolate and cookies. Something which disturbed him and annoyed him and gave him a little happy at times, depending on how good the cookies were. Spike had it too, though, if you looked at him right.

"Yeah. I actually do have money, you know. I just can't get to it right now." Spike still had that half-embarrassed twist to his mouth.

"Ooh… story... story…."

"No. Don't wanna talk about it."

"Oh. Okay, what happened to your car?"

"You never learn, do you?" Spike reached out a finger and poked him in the side, making him curl up in helpless laughter, with one touch. Never let an evil demon know where you're ticklish. At least that one was mutual. Xander had figured out two of Spike's weak spots…. The vampire finally withdrew his torturing hand. "I said I don't wanna talk about it."

"Fine!" Xander mock-pouted at him. "But you owe me a story, and I'm getting a story if I have to bug you until tomorrow morning, so give it up already!"

"Grrrr…. "

Xander gave his best innocent look. Willow, age six, caught with her hand in her mother's cookie jar (which turned out to be filled with "Daily Affirmations for a More Positive Psyche…"). "I'll make you Nestle's Quik…"

"It's chocolate milk, Xander. I've had chocolate milk…" Spike rolled his eyes ceilingward. Well… pipe-and-ducting-ward, anyway. "It's fine, it's chocolate, but not exactly a gourmet taste sensation. If there were ice cream…"

"No ice cream. I had to stop too many places on the way back from work; it would've melted. But Quik is a gourmet taste sensation the way I make it," Xander assured him. Spike rolled his shoulders forward and back, and winced.

"And a backrub…" he bargained. "Throw in a backrub and I'll try to come up with a story."

Xander considered. He did a pretty decent backrub, if Willow was any judge. Not that they'd tried that recently, in the post-clothes-fluke days… Should, really. Pretty safe now, wasn't it. Seeing as they were both engaged in other activities... but that wasn't knowledge he was quite ready to share with Wills. Maybe when he was...oh...ninety....

But the thought of his hands all over Spike's cool, pink-white back.... That thought had definite possibilities. Digging his fingers into Spike's spine, kneading the muscles until they went 'spung!' under his hands, feeling the Big Bad relax beneath him... But there was a little problem...

"I would… but to give you a backrub, I'd kinda have to… sit. Which I'm thinking… maybe tomorrow?"

Spike laughed. Not meanly. Just… Spikily. "Don't be an idiot. You just crawl up on top of me, and work from there. I promise you won't squish me, or anything."

Xander considered some more. Decided that was a pretty good idea. A very good idea.

"Okay. Shirt off, I make Quik." Xander shimmied off the bed and headed for the fridge, watching Spike over his shoulder all the way. Because Spike was good to look at. Good. Ha! Evil... well, maybe, but 'good' is definitely an understatement on the looks and charm scale. What the hell was Spike doing with him? This ball of muscle and energy and deceptive stillness with the accent that could make his cock twitch just by reading the instructions on a bottle of shampoo out loud...with the dark eyebrows and the blazing blond hair and the mouth...

Yeah. The mouth. And the lip. The bottom one. The one that stuck out when Spike was pretending to pout, or thinking really hard about something... and the damn scar on his eyebrow, just to prove he wasn't perfect. Which really didn't help at all, because it made him look dangerous and damaged and...and the sound of Spike laughing, when he was legitimately amused... It wasn't that Xander didn't believe Spike when the vampire said he wanted Xander Harris. Wanted to have sex with him, anyway. Even wanted to hang around after. He just didn't understand why. Still hadn't quite got that part figured out.

"Was that English?" Spike asked, yawning and peeling his black shirt off over his head. "Don't answer that. Jeans too?"

Xander took a break from dumping about ten heaping tablespoons of chocolate powder into the bottom of Giles' (Well, face it, it was Spike's, by now, because would Giles want it back?) 'Kiss the Librarian' mug. Contemplated Spike's question. Imagined the results of an affirmative answer. Imagined them with great...imagination. Imagined them with whipped cream and sprinkles.

"Er... you were supposed to answer that one, pet."

Xander blinked. Oh. Yeah. Speech. Worked when you made air come out of your mouth and moved your lips to kind of... shape it into something other people could understand.

"You take your jeans off, I don't know if the backrub'll last very long..." Xander finally replied, pouring in some milk, and grabbing a spoon. Stirring like crazy. Because that would obviously banish the image of him crawling on top of a naked Spike...licking the vampire's prominent shoulderblades... fingerpainting a line of cold chocolate Quik down Spike's spine, and kissing it off hotly from neck to ass without pausing for breath or conversation or... The backs of Spike's legs, right behind the knees, where he was also ticklish... to plant kisses there and watch Spike squirm because he didn't dare kick Xander in the head... And I accused him of having an oral fixation... Stir...stir...stir...

"How about I take the belt off, unzip the jeans, and you decide when you get that far?" Spike suggested with a dripping summer heat in his voice, like the AC had suddenly broken down and the only thing cool in the room was this porcelain mug of cold milk and chocolate that Xander just kept stirring and stirring...

Spike rolled over on his back, unbuckled that wide leather belt, and slid it sloooooowly from its loops. Let it fall with a slither and a thud and a thwap, to the floor, where Xander could only stare at it for a minute, imagining the things he might be able to persuade Spike to do with that belt if he ever got his tongue working. Maybe when he was actually old enough to go out and buy the several gallons of whiskey it would take to lubricate his mouth enough to get the request out, if Spike was still hanging around by then... And this time it wasn't about being dark and lost, it was just an innocently perverted hard-on for a feeling, that leather...maybe just to have it wrapped around his wrists... or maybe more. Not that it would take much persuasion to get Spike around to the idea, and Spike might come up with it all on his own, a lot sooner, especially if I don't stop staring at it... Stir. Stir. Stir. Gulp.

And Spike was undoing the button at the waistband of his jeans, the faded blue ones, not the black ones, and he was coaxing down the zipper and Xander was trying very, very hard not to break the handle off the mug, because for some reason Spike had really taken a liking to it. And Spike saved what little sanity Xander had left, finally, by grinning at him, and rolling back over on his stomach, the denim of his jeans now loose around his waist, the line of his spine disappearing into the shadows of the soft fabric. Urk. Right. Backrub.

He carried the mug back over to the bed, leaning over Spike, who was studying the under-dressed Borg in the fanmag with an appreciative eye.

"Here. Don't spill it. I draw the line at sleeping on chocolate Quik. In it, maybe, if we could find a bathtub big enough, but on the pillows... no thanks." He handed the mug to Spike, who eyed it warily.

"Is there actually milk in this? I'm seeing sludge here. Chocolate sludge, so not a problem, but..." Xander just laughed at him. A little raggedly.

"That's the best way, the way you do it when your parents let you make it yourself. And I graduated to that a few lifetimes ago, so I've had some time to perfect it. Drink, then tell. Story, story, story." And Xander crawled back on the bed, straddling his lover's hips, leaning forward, and putting his hands on those shoulders. Which were cool, and tensed, and really needed to be rubbed until they felt as warm as oncoming July under his hands. So as Spike sipped, and stirred (because you had to stir, and keep stirring, to chase those little globs of chocolate and powder around the cup until they disappeared under the milk, or dip them out and let them spread all over your tongue...), Xander began to move his hands on Spike, and finally, Spike started to talk.

*****

Spike's Fish Story

"Right. Story for the brat. Long, long ago, in a galaxy... Oi! Don't stop, I'll be good. Once upon a time, somewhere around nineteen sixteen, Dru and I were walking on the beach...

Dover, where else. Middle of the night, dead calm after a big arse-kicking storm. Nothing going on but the waves and the stars and that poncy hotel up on the hill where Matthew Arnold used to spend 'is time being all broody and Sire-like... Down on the beach, we were kicking around at shells and rocks. Not hungry, fed on a couple of local girls, waitresses, walking back from the hotel, thinkin' there was safety in numbers or some such. Dru was bored. You think I'm dangerous when I'm bored? Annoying? You've never spent time with somebody who thinks the fishes sing to 'er, and wants to go diving to see if they'll come and play. Never mind she can't swim, just sinks like a bloody great stone, and I have to go in and fish her out every time she takes it into her head. Had to. Had. Anyway.

She was hearing something singing to her again, that night. "Spike... s'like angels, like the Holy Mother herself. All high and sweet and smooth... like it must be not to be lost." She was leaning on me, the way she did when she got like this, like she couldn't quite manage to stand on her own, though she could. She wasn't always like she was when we got to Sunnydale. Always fragile, yeah, but not your consumptive heroine-type, like she was after Prague. She could walk about on her own sweet legs. But when she got one of her real mad-ons, then she was spinnin' or dancing, or collapsed on the ground, or leaning on me. Which worked just fine for me.

Oh, yeah, luv. Just there. Just...right there. You're good at this, you are. Yeah…

Angel song. Right. Thing was, I was 'alf sure I'd lost it myself, 'cos I thought I could hear something too. Sort of like music, yeah, dunno about it bein' like angels, but not bad. Just down the beach, round a bit of rock that edged out into the water. Sharp stuff, nasty place to wash up a boat. You could walk over it, if you were careful, but it was slick, and it was a good way to take a rotten tumble. This I know because? Because Dru had to take off like a dark little gypsy doing the tease-Spike tarantella, running towards it, turning round, coming back, pulling at me.

"Come on, Spike! It's calling to us! It's such a lovely song, I know it has to be something wonderful."

Never was very good at saying no to Drusilla. You might've gathered that. So we clamber up over these rocks, me in halfway decent clothes for it, Dru in one of her fancy stolen upperclass frocks, dripping with lace and fringe and just waiting for a chance to trip her up and send her down to the bottom of the rocks with a poor little smashed head. Which wouldn't kill 'er, of course, but Dru was hard enough to take care of as it was. Dru with a real hurt to go crazy over? Been there, done that, wanted to try to avoid it as often as possible.

We made it over the top of the rocks, Dru slippin' in her little boots, nearly pulled me over and sent me down for a smash on the noggin a few times. The music's getting louder, and it does sound like singing, but nothing quite human. Which ain't all that surprising. Weird shit shows up everywhere, not just the Hellmouth. Slipped and slid and even took a few actual steps down to the little sort of beach or inlet or sandbar or whatever it was, cove, I guess. Completely surrounded by rocks, so you couldn't see it at all except from the water.

That's where we found her. What was making the music. A girl, I s'pose, if you can call her that. Greeny-gray skin, long seaweedy hair. Big black eyes like a shark's, all pupil. This mouth, full of the longest, sharpest teeth you can think of. Hell of a lot sharper than mine. Open in a big round circle, crooning this strange little tune. Completely starkers, of course, and not looking bad at all with it. Bloody toothsome, in a skin-crawly way.

What? Yeah. Merrow. Damn, you met up with everything on the Hellmouth? Or just the really creepy shit? Cos' she was. Creepy. Even to me. Looked at me like she was eleventy-hundred thousand years older than the oldest vamp I'd ever met. If you lot diced it up with some merrows, you only saw the fellas. They don't let the girls leave the deep-water breed-and-hatch places. You ever seen one, you'd know why. Lads wanted to keep these birds for themselves. Sparkly. Makes you want to run your fingers over that skin, see if the sparkles would come off on your hand. Cold. No worries there, for a vamp, but sorta salty... wet cold. Deadish-but-not. Things that live underwater, like another kind of life altogether. Those Dagonish... they're a bit like that. Lovecraft knew what he was babbling about. And that song... Like a Siren, 'cept those're real too. Probably related. Close-up, a few feet away, it was like... draw you in, eat you up.

Which I gather's how they hunt, underwater, at least the girls. The blokes're warriors, but the girls just lie about, putting out this cold-sweet music, Dru's angel song, and wait for something big and warm and stupid to come swimming by. This one... must've washed ashore in the storm. Must've been a big damn storm, out to sea, for her to get blown all the way in from the deep.

Dru's in ecstasy, of course. Having kittens over the poor pretty sparkly thing on the sand. Dru being Dru, the first thing she did was try to nibble on her, even though we'd already fed. I'm trying to hold Dru back, 'cos I know these things are dangerous, like to eat human flesh and we're not all that far off human, just the dead version. Heard they like live meat, but how picky would a desperate and hungry one be?

Dru pulls away and rushes over, and I'm thinking, 'Great. One dead girl with big teeth, one fish girl with bigger ones, I've lost her for sure this time.' But they just sort of sniff each other. Dru's gone demony, and leans in to take a nibble from the girl's shoulder, same time the Merrow girlie snaps that head around like a Great White, and plants those teeth in Dru's arm. Still humming that damned song.

Growling and spitting and hissing like you wouldn't believe. Dru backed off and screamed and whimpered, and the spitting was actually onto the sand, not at the other one. Guess fish-girl's green blood wasn't exactly a tasty treat. Dunno... I let Dru be my guide on that one, and didn't try it. Merrow had the same idea, spitting and still humming at the same time. Didn't like the taste of Dru either. Dunno why… I sure as hell did.

"She bit me, Spike. That wasn't nice at all. But..." and Dru was back on her own little demented path, walking round the green girl, looking down at her like... she was thinking about it. Whatever was talking to her said she was supposed to like this one even if it had decided to take a taste for itself. "She's pretty. Sparkles. Let's take her home. She'll make the place shine, then we don't have to light the fire."

"Can't take her home, love. She'd die if she had to stay outside of the water, and she can't live on blood. They eat live meat. Which I'm not willin' to share, not with the pickings around here being as slim as they are."

Dru stamped her foot at me. Works like a charm most of the time, but there really wasn't any way to indulge her even if I wanted to. Couldn't carry that slippery green girl back over the rocks if she'd let me. Out to sea was the only way she was getting off this little piece of sand.

Now, I speak a little Mer, which is close to what that lot speak, sort of cousiny. What? Don't know how many languages I speak, you just pick 'em up. Ask me when you're not doing that thing to my spine, and I might be able to count a little better. You want a story, or not? Right. No, I didn't mean stop doing the spine thing. I just meant shut up.

Mer. I figured she knew a bit of it. Not what the Mer-folks speak among themselves, but sort of a trade-language. They have some magic-users underwater, which means your traditional Mermaid-types... well, Mermen, mostly, do come into contact with other creepy night-folk like us, every so often. Merrows, the nasty cousin-sorts, are pretty insular, but I figured she'd at least have some clue as to what I was going on about if I kept it simple.

So I asked her name… or maybe I asked her for the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, but I think I asked her name. She said something liquidy and bubbly that I don't even have the equipment to repeat. So helpful. I think it translated to "Princess Contessa Vanessa Bananafana the Third," or suchlike. They're all bloody aristocracy when they're introducing themselves to the rabble, aren't they.

"Right. Spike. Drusilla. Vampires. You're a Merrow, right?" Or something I hoped worked out to that, and not an invitation to snack on my girlfriend, tasty or otherwise.

Yeah, head nod, supposed that meant the same thing for them as us. We worked out that yeah, she'd washed ashore, yeah, she'd like a bit of help getting back out there, and yeah, Dru tasted nasty and she wasn't about to eat us. Conversational monster, how to find a loo and a bus station in the netherworld.

And then Dru got her brilliant idea. Not that I'm ever really against that sort of thing, mind you, but it was cold, and wet, and here was this thing with the big long teeth that were sharper than ours, and she wanted to shag it? 'Cos it was sparkly ? And how was I supposed to get that one across?

Apparently I didn't need to, 'cos the next thing I knew, Dru was down on the sand, snogging the Merrow girl like… well, you know from experience we don't have to breathe, and the fishwife had gills, so… Nobody was coming up for air anytime soon. And yeah, it turned me on. I mean, Dru and almost anybody turned me on, long as I got to play, or watch, or hear about it afterwards. Long as it was…voluntary, on my part. That's the way it was, for both of us. For a long damn time.

In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess, so I figured why not join in. Still a little nervous of those teeth, you get me, 'cos when I say long, and sharp…yeah, you've seen them on the blokes, right. So.. you want details, like how when I pulled Dru's frock off, the cold and the wet made her nipples stand out like little dark currants? How she looked when she bent over that green girlie, all hungry and mad and sweet, and brushed the ends of her hair over the girl's forehead? Growled at me, 'til I stripped off and lay down in the surf with 'em, rolling and licking and petting everything I could lay my hands or mouth on that wasn't sand or me? 'Cos there were enough hands and mouths and legs and fins on me to take care of that just fine, without any help from me.

So Dru's howlin' at the moon, 'cos she's got her fancy being attended to by that croony round mouth, and I'm thinking… better you than me, love, and if that thing bites anything off my Dru that can't be replaced… and Dru's doing that same little favor for me an' all, but what about the little fish-girl? Aside from a lot of petting and tickling and kissing and that sorta thing, nobody's been seein' to her needs. Dru brought me off nice, the way she always could, and I thought…fair's fair… and started to pay a bit more attention to the green chit.

But… there's always a snag, ain't there. This is where the funny part comes in. Y'know, where you're allowed to laugh, wanker. But don't stop that, and aren't you happy I undid the jeans, then? I sure as hell am. Xander? Hello? I said don't stop tha…. Oh. Yeah, you can do that. Keep doing that. I like your hands.

Ahem. Snag. Female Merrows… when I said fins, I didn't just mean the flipper hand thingies the boys have. I meant… fins. Like your traditional Mermaid. Green all over, different eyes, big teeth, whatever, but this girl was pretty much built like your basic Hans Christian Andersen wet dream. All grown up… and no place to go. Yeah, Spike, Big Bad master of the horizontal, vertical, and everything in between, can't figure out where to put it. Where to put… anything.

Stop it. You don't have to laugh that hard! Let me up and I'll… oh. Okay, if you keep doing that, I won't beat you silly. Sillier. Anyway. All three of us, sitting in the sand and the water, completely bollocks-naked, though of course the Merrow'd started out that way. Dru's sort of tittering behind her hands, and I'm trying to find…well, something. I mean, nipples are erogenous zones, yeah, but I doubt I could bring her off just by licking and sucking… Oh, you think I could've? Oh. You think I could do that with you. Let's save that for a long, rainy afternoon, shall we?

Finally I just sat there, and I'm sure I looked like a complete gobsmacked idiot, just tilting my head to one side and thinking… Right. Basic demonic anatomy. Wished I paid more attention when Angelus was trying to shove my face in one or another of his books of bloody 'dark lore.' And the chit starts nattering at me, and I'm only catching half of it, but I've pretty much got the picture. How I'm either an utter moron, or I don't have the common courtesy to do a turnabout is fair play, or maybe I'm the sort who'd be happier with her brother than her.

And maybe I was, 'cos I sure wasn't overly attracted to her at the moment, since she'd started to sound like a real fishwife. Bitchin' up a storm, flipping her tail in the water and waving her hands about like a pissed-off lorry-driver. Not that there were a lot of those about at the time, but you know what I mean. I couldn't pick up half of what she was saying or signing or singing, but I was pretty sure most of it had to do with me and my mother and my probable preference for her brother instead of her.

And I got sick of it. A real bellyful. Not my fault she had to go and be an egg-layer! Not my fault I didn't speak the language well enough to ask her what exactly I had to do to send her to the moon and back. Not terribly overjoyed with Dru giggling to herself in a puddle of water, either, making little splashy fishy noises and flipping her fingers like fins. So I stood up, cold and wet and naked, and just a bit utterly humiliated, and picked up the bloody little bint---the Merrow, not Dru! --- and carried her out into the waves. Said ta muchly, with as bad an accent as I could muster, and tossed her as far as I could out to sea.

Yeah, hilarious, but not quite the end of the story. Dru's still laughing, I'm standing in the water, waves up to my cock, fish-girl's flipping her tail at us and diving into the breakers, and there in the shallows is this bloke. Merrow. Must've been that brother she was so sure I'd take a fancy to, and damn if she wasn't right. Built like… ever seen Harrison Ford take off his shirt in one of the Indy Jones flicks? Like that. Yeah, greeny-blue hair, shark-eyes, all that, but… damn. Could've bounced rocks off his chest. He wasn't wearing anything much in the way of anything either, and… well, damn about covers it. Gave me this… look, like… yeah, I'd like to see what you're all about, but I've gotta get this one back to the spawning grounds, so… have a nice unlife, mate.

He dived into the waves after her, and there I was, wet and pissed and naked and still a bit horny, and trying to get Dru dressed enough to stumble back over those rocks and get back to the lair where I could start a nice fire. Never saw the bugger again. Don't know how long they live, don't particularly care, wasn't exactly a blind date love connection, but… you should've bloody seen the one that got away, kid."

 

*****

And Spike waited for Xander to laugh, but all he heard were the sounds of gentle breathing on his neck. The massage had died away as he'd started to describe the Merrow bloke, but he'd just thought it was… well, an exciting part of the story. No. He couldn't be that bloody lucky. Somewhere in the middle of the best part, Xander had fallen asleep on him. Literally.

Well, his back didn't hurt anymore, and the warm presence of Xander's body atop his own wasn't exactly unpleasant, though he'd been hoping to get a bit more… action out of tonight's version of full-contact sports. Maybe he could fish that magazine out, and… nah. He'd have to shake Xander off him to do anything useful with Seven-of-Nine in a silver bikini. And anyway… Nah. He stirred what was left of the chocolatey goop in the bottom of his mug, and drained it, licking his lips. Not bad. A bit of a whitebread, afterschool special sort of taste, but Xander was right. It had a nice kick. Speaking of kicks…

Xander. Weapons. He'd been thinking about weapons. And fish. And… As he drifted off, his body more relaxed than he'd realized, he noticed that he had knocked the mug over on the pillow, and Xander was going to tease him about it in the morning. Not as if the boy really cared about the bedclothes, with the things they'd been doing in them… Weapons. Fish… Harrison Ford. He wondered idly if there was a bullwhip anywhere in that bag of tricks on the floor. Xander in a leather jacket, dark brown fedora, cracking the whip at a pack of nasties, with Spike smiling, or maybe drooling, nearby… It was a pretty good image to fall asleep on.

Note: the merrow are a traditional folktale creature -- but the Buffyverse version of them, and the fact that the Scoobs have met some, comes from the BtVS YA novel Deep Water by Laura Anne Gilman and Josepha Sherman.





The 7th Day: Half-Baked

Spike was getting awfully bloody tired of missing Passions. Which was a bit sad, in its own way, since he'd started watching the thing to while away the boredom of being trapped in the Watcher's flat instead of out spreading mayhem. These days he kept sleeping through it, or shagging through it, and though the shagging was a much nicer entertainment, it still irked him that he was losing track of who was doing what to whom.

He'd tried to catch up today, and really made a concerted effort to pay attention, but his eyes had slowly unfocused, lids falling shut as he tried to blink away sleep, to no avail.

Behind those eyelids, east coast met west, and the towns of Sunnydale and Harmony merged into one bizarre suburban amalgam. Ethan Crane -- wait, something not right there -- was trying to choose between taking Buffy or Giles to the Prom, the fact that Giles still looked like a Fyarl demon apparently having no effect on the young man's dilemma. Spike was rooting for Giles, himself. Bugger needed a hobby, and the clean-cut Yank, village-idiot though he was, might just distract Rupert from his mid-life ain't-got-a-job moaning.

Charity, the little goody-witch, was afraid of some vision she'd had that the Hellmouth was going to open up again. Spike, suddenly in the action and dressed in a completely unfashionable copper's uniform, was trying to comfort her. He kept having to kick Timmy away, though, as the annoying little golem insisted on trying to bite him on the ankles. With a frustrated growl, he finally went game-face on the brat, who then faded into the woodwork with a cheshire-cat's grin.

The blonde bint ran off into the night, and when Spike followed, the sun rose on him. Didn't burn. Just stayed up there being all bright and cheery and...well, sunny. Glancing around the downtown streets, he noticed someone standing in front of the ruins of the bombed-out high school. Somebody in a leather duster, with bleached blonde hair, his thumbs curled over the buckle of his belt, a shit-eatin' grin on his smarmy-arse face. Damned fine-lookin' vampire. Spike shouted over to him: "Oi, then! Seen a girl, so high? Dark hair, answers to Faith? Or... No, Hope, I think?" His double flipped him the two-fingered salute, and lit up a fag, leaning on the dented bus-stop sign in front of the school.

"Here, you, just 'cos you've got my face doesn't mean you can slag me off..." Spike called out angrily at Spike, and crossed the street in a few quick strides. He narrowly escaped being hit by a beat-up white Citroen lurching along at breakneck speed, with Willow's little girlfriend in the passenger seat, and nobody driving. When he reached the front of the school, the other Spike offered him a puff on his cig, which uniformed Spike declined. "Second-hand smoke. Don't want to give the boy lung cancer..."

His double snorted at him. "So you've started fancying boys now, have you?" the other Spike sneered.

"Not boys.. A boy..." replied Spike defensively, thinking he'd had this conversation before, somewhere.

"Yes, that makes it alright, then. Still, it's all rather sick and disgusting, innit? You worrying about giving somebody lung cancer? Rip 'em out and clean 'em, if you're that concerned."

"Can't. Rip out his lungs, he'll know I love him, " Spike sighed.

"You're right, there. Might stake you or somethin'. Sure sucks to be you." The other Spike made his last comment in Buffy's whingey little voice, and winked. Blew a perfect smoke ring at Spike, which spread out and billowed into his face until he was coughing up a storm. By the time Spike's vision and his suddenly working lungs had cleared, his twin was wearing a hat. A beat-up fedora. But it wasn't the other Spike anymore, standing next to him. This bloke's leather coat was a jacket, not a duster, and he had the most amazing blue eyes. Which Spike was bloody well aware he possessed too, but these were attached to a rugged face and a chin you could chisel out of Mount effin' Rushmore with a shitload of dynamite and a cheerful heart.

"You'd get things done a lot easier if you'd stop listening to him so much," Indy commented, waving away a bit of residual smoke. "He's a complete moron."

Spike nodded, wondering if you really could bounce rocks off Professor Jones' chest. Sure as hell looked like it. "Yeah, but he's got a point. Sucks to be a vampire these days, if you've shacked up with a human. Even rent-free, there's still laundry to do."

"That would explain it, I guess," Indy commented, pointing down at Spike's clothes. Bleedin' short trousers and green Hawaiian shirt, and no duster to be seen. Which meant no cigs, just in case he changed his mind.

"Nah, these're his. Thought I burned 'em, but I guess he did the soddin' soul-restoration spell on 'em. Which would be fine, if they didn't keep goin' mad and murdering gypsies every time I wear 'em to bed." Spike plucked disgustedly at the nasty Banana Republic shirt.

Indy gave him a grin. "You make things so damn hard on yourself, don't you, Will... Head thicker than my Dad's. Isn't that your buddy over there?" He pointed to the magic shop across the street, where Giles, no longer a demon, was arguing heatedly on the pavement with Willy the Snitch and Julian Crane over whether it was going to be Valentine, Paul Revere, or Epitaph in the third race.

Spike shook his head. "S'my bloody father-in-law, innit. Not that he thinks I'm good enough for the boy." He turned back to Indy only to find that while the hat and the jacket and the coiled bullwhip were still right next to him, the toasted-honey eyes beneath the brim of that battered fedora belonged to Xander Harris. And the boy was smiling like only a great bloody idiot would, right at Spike.

"He won't mind, as long as you treat me right and don't hog the covers. He doesn't have any room to talk anyway." Xander reached out a leatherclad arm to touch Spike's chin with soft fingers. "Well? Aren't you gonna kiss me? That's the way these things usually start."

Spike moved closer to him, studying the shadows that the hat made on his face. Realizing that on this pavement, for some reason they were the same height. He leaned in to brush his lips against Xander's, putting his arms around his lover's waist, pressing up against leather and cotton and the warm smell of a human male. A specific human male. Only Xander smelled like this.

"I would court you with more grace, if I knew how," Spike murmured earnestly against the faintly stubbled jaw, before pressing his lips once more to Xander's still-blinding smile.

*****

"C...court me?" Xander stuttered as he gently shook his lover awake, stroking Spike's back, feeling the smooth, cool skin twitch under his fingers as Spike began to return from wherever he'd been. Court me? He's courting me? Help. What the hell does that mean? "When did you start courting me? Shouldn't there have been a summons or something?"

Spike rolled over, blinked blearily at him, and stretched his arms out to either side. Xander took the opportunity to pin Spike's left arm beneath him, and put his own on Spike's shoulder, so they lay facing each other, sort of hugging, sort of not.

"You're not s'posed to be here. You're at work. You have to be at work, 'cos the sun's up. You're a dream." Spike sounded very, very serious about this.

Xander looked at the sleepy vampire in his arms, and smiled. "Thanks, you're not so bad yourself. But no, real as real can be. If you prick me, do I not bleed? If you pinch me, do I not kick your helpless ass from here to Santa Barbara? Wake up, Spike."

He's so...human, when he's still half-asleep. He still dreams. He's just a...demon. A demon in blue jeans with no shirt, in my bed. Who looks like a man. Who…makes me want to hold him, sometimes, when he's not holding me. Who wants to court me with more grace.

Spike shook his head a few times, rubbed his eyes as best he could with the hand that wasn't pinned under Xander, and focused in on him.

"Right, I'm not dreaming, or we wouldn't be in this hellhole. Plaza Ritz, or at least a decent strip club. What're you doing home before six? You said six." Spike brushed stray dark hairs out of Xander's eyes, and an odd, kind of sympathetic look came over his sharply angled face. "You didn't get the sack, did you?"

Xander was less than happy with the widely-accepted fact that he couldn't hold a job for longer than a week without getting fired. He'd stayed at this one for at least three, and... well, it sucked, like all the others, but at least it had a reasonably low suckiness quotient compared to the dog-bathing place and the fish cannery.

"No, I didn't get fired. Didn't quit, either. Just took the afternoon off, so I could come home and annoy you." He moved his face in close and kissed Spike hard, grinding his lips against the vampire's with a pissed-off intensity that softened, somewhere in the middle of the kiss, to a low heat.

"It working?" he asked when they broke apart.

"I'll let you know," Spike assured him with a grin.

"What's this 'Court me with more grace' stuff? You going poetic on me is way into the red zone on the freaky-o-meter."

Spike groaned. "Said that out loud, did I? Don't worry, it's somebody else's poetry. Just slithered its way into my dream. Much like you."

Spike was dreaming about him? Xander laid his head down on the pillow, still staring at the somewhat-more-awake man in his bed. Shirtless, cool, extremely touchable man in his bed. He was finding it suddenly difficult to keep his hands to himself and have a plain old normal conversation about Spike's freaky dreams. His brilliant idea of wrapping his arms around Spike wasn't lending itself to the concept of not doing anything further with the fingers at the end of those arms.

"You were dreaming about me? Um...bad dream? Anything I need to stake?" Xander had forgotten, he was sure, all sorts of things he'd said when he was zonked out of his mind on too much chocolate or not enough sleep. For some reason, though, he hadn't blanked out his whacko promise to stake Spike's nightmares if Spike would bite his. Didn't want to forget it, sappy as it might have been. Maybe it was working. He hadn't had any nightmares, not yet, since Spike had been sharing his bed.

"No..." Spike yawned. "Just weird. Missed the last half of Passions, too, dammit. Mixed into my dream somehow. Think I was Luis there, for a minute."

Xander had watched several episodes of Spike's bizarre soap opera addiction with him, laughing his ass off at the psycho witch and her creepy little sidekick. He sort of knew which character Spike was talking about. The Hispanic cop with the sister. Spike, as a cop? Spike dreaming he was a cop? Snarf.

"Really? In uniform? That must've been..."

"Itchy, as I recall. And khaki does nothing for my complexion."

"Yeah?" Xander raked his best lascivious glance---which was getting better, since he'd been taking notes from Spike---over Spike's still-drowsy face. "What was I wearing?"

Spike's eyes sort of unfocused, and he actually had a bit of a dopey grin going on there. Dopey. Spike. Non-game-face-Spike. I really have to wake him up in the middle of his sleep-cycle more often. He's a riot...

"Er...look, how would you feel about a bull-whip?"

Blink. Blink blink blink. Um... Okay, I come home to try something new on him and he wants to know about... um... Why could Bleachy-head always do this to him? Always, that is, on the scale of the brief time they'd been... whatever they were. Spike had this ability to throw him off his mental track with a well-placed look, or a question out of nowhere that he damn well knew he had to answer, because... Well, because it was Spike, and he'd aggravate it out of Xander sooner or later anyway, so why not answer now? Xander kept hoping something he'd do or say would surprise the been-there-done-that vampire. That was today's half-baked plan, anyway. If he could manage to concentrate on putting it into effect. If Spike didn't keep saying things about…bull-whips.

"I think... maybe if you turned me and I lived to be as old as Angel, I'd be ready to think about doing something with a bullwhip..." he managed to reply. "I was hoping we could kinda work our way up slowly on the ladder o' kink? Like... smaller pieces of leather than that?"

Spike stared at him, black pupils in the center of those too-blue eyes sort of spinning around in circles while not really moving at all, before finally clutching his forehead and bursting into genuine laughter.

"Not to hit you with, gimboid! As a weapon. There's one in that bag of fun we scored from the Dagonish's place." Vampiric snork... "Honestly, as if that wouldn't set the chip off. Nice to know your mind works that way, but... honestly!" Spike continued to chuckle, and Xander sighed patiently.

"Fine. Laugh at me. See if you get any."

"Any what?"

"That'd be telling, wouldn't it. Surprises."

Something glittered in Spike's eyes, and he purred. That silky, dangerous Spike's-voice purr, not the rumbling catlike one he sometimes came out with when he was totally relaxed. "Like surprises, I do."

"And if you're a good vampire, you might actually get some. So I had a bullwhip in your dream? Is that what you're saying?"

Spike nodded. "Jacket, fedora, whip, the whole bloody ensemble. Alexander Harris and the Basement of Doom. Looked good on you."

Spike was getting easy with the compliments. Which would make a more suspicious person believe that he wanted something from Xander, since what the hell would Spike be doing saying nice things about Xander Harris? And why the hell would Spike, the blue-jeaned devil at the door in a half-remembered country song, think Xander Harris, boy-geek, looked...good? Xander kept wondering if today would be the day they'd drag him off to the funny farm, where life is beautiful all the time, and he'd be happy to see those nice young men in their fine white coats.....

"Xan? This is the bit where you say 'Thank you, Spike...'" the pouting British voice pointed out, accompanied by... yes, there it was, the soft pink lower lip, and Xander was not going to suck on it. Not.

What was the question again? Oh. Thank you. For the alleged compliment. "Okay. Thank you, Spike's subconscious, for picturing me as Harrison Ford. Even though he's thirty years older than me."

"You're welcome. See, I can be polite, if the mood takes me. So---whatcha think?"

Xander resisted the urge to show Spike what he was thinking, which involved stripping those jeans off him and running his fingers over every inch of Spike's body...very, very slowly. And then a bit faster... What was the question?

"About a bullwhip? I think you'd have to find somebody who knows how to use one, to teach me. And honestly... can you picture it? In Sunnydale? 'Hey, Mister Vampire, 'scuse me while I whip this out...' I'd be dead in thirty seconds."

Spike pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Yeah. S'pose you're right. Still... wouldn't say no to seein' you in the fancy-dress."

"You want me to dress up as Indy?" He thought about it for a few seconds. Battered leather jacket. Extremely cool hat. Not as if he hadn't wanted to be Indiana Jones since he was in kindergarten, scaring Willow with fake rubber snakes. Big freakin' sacrifice to put one of his own little fantasies into effect for Spike…. "I could maybe do that. " He tweaked his lip up, just a little. Since Spike was in the mood to talk about fantasies… "How d'you feel about tweed?"

"Tweed????" Spike responded with a disgusted snort. "As in Henry Jones Senior? M' not your father, kid!"

This time it was Xander's turn to purse his lips. "Nooo. Not that kind of tweed. Gilesy tweed. "

Spike's dark eyebrows shot up. "You want me to dress up as Rupert? And I thought I was kinky."

Um.. No. It wasn't like that. There'd just been that dream. On the swings. That dream. The thought of Spike in Giles' clothes... It was just about seeing whether Spike looked as strangely sexy in real life in that Watchery suit as he had in Xander's dream. Maybe swinging on the swings in the park in the middle of the night. Or maybe not the swings at all. Maybe the merry-go-round? The little bouncy horses that would probably make great objects to bend somebody over… or be bent over… and he had a sick, sick mind.

The tweed thoughts...they didn't have anything to do with the fact that Giles was maybe just a little bit cute, in a no-don't-go-there kind of way, or that Spike seemed to be taking care of Xander these days. Which was awfully Gilesy. All of which had to be the most bizarre set of circumstances he'd been in since... well, his last relationship. He didn't exactly have a stunning track record.

"N... no. So not that. So very much not that..." he finally choked out, trying to mean it. "I just kinda had a dream about you, too. A while ago. Before this whole whatever it is. Giles was teaching you how to be a Watcher. "

"Erk..." Spike replied helpfully.

"Yeah, my thoughts exactly. I thought it was all about the gang passing me by, at the time... or maybe just the primordial Slayer spirit stopping by to kick my ass for good luck, before going after Buffy. Sort of the Xander-Lucky-Ass-Buddha. But...have to admit, I have this bizarro kick to see you in Watcherwear." He stroked the pillowcase absently, feeling the nubbly softness of the old, cool, cotton.

"You're a sick, nasty little boy," Spike admonished. "And if you drugged me and hauled me to the tailor's by one toe, you might be able to shove me into a tweed suit before I ripped your arms off, headache or no headache!"

"Noted. No tweed, unless I can get you completely blasted."

"Damn straight. Well, maybe a bit bent..." Spike grinned, snaking his free arm around Xander's neck and trying to draw him in for a kiss.

No. There would be no kissing yet, and no distractions, No more distractions! and no... what was the fucking question again? Shit!

An idea, slightly evil, popped fully-grown into his head. Treat it kindly, it's in a strange place... Thanks, personal-mental-Cordy... If he could totally discombobulate Spike-- then he might be able to get on with his own plans for the afternoon.

"No. Not now," he managed to say sternly, and rolled on top of Spike, trapping the vampire beneath him. Spike looked... what, a bit surprised? Good.

"No? Why not?" his lover whined up at him, attractive even when acting like a five-year-old. Or maybe more attractive because he was acting like a five year old. And he damn well knew it.

"No. Because you and I are going to have a talk."

Spike's eyes lit up. "The sort of talk where I don't have to beat you at bloody Candyland...?" He left the rest open to the imagination, and Xander's imagination had been getting a workout for the past several days anyway, so it wasn't a difficult path to follow.

"No, not that kind of talk. The kind where I ask you a question. If you give me a straight answer, and I like it, or even understand it, then, maybe, we play. " He could feel his own warm breath bouncing back at him from Spike's face, which had suddenly gone into mega-panic-mode. Yahoo!

 

*****

Talk? He wants to bloody talk? About non-shagging, non-Sunnydale issues? Shit. Bugger. Welcome to the undead Maury Povich Show. Where the vampire tries not to tell the human that he's arse over fucking tit in love with him, thus giving the human an unfair advantage in the ripping-your-heart-out contest.

In other words, here it came. Xander figuring out that Spike was (duh?) evil. Bad for him. A lovely way to pass a week or two in bed, but when it came to long-term whatever... Well, a fortnight wasn't long enough, but it was longer than he' d figured, frankly. Longer than he'd thought on the bleedin' morning after, when he watched the water in the shower cascade down Xander's twisted-up face and thought... Mine. Mine to bloody hold until he lets me go, and damn the Slayer, and damn Dru, and damn Angel, and damn me too, 'cos I'm already damned... Or something like it. Something like what he was thinking now, but a bit more hopeful, and not as desperate.

"Right. That sort of talk." He stretched out his arms as far as he could. They were fairly free, considering that Xander, still fully clothed in tan chinos and cabana-boy shirt-of-the-day, was lying heavily atop his chest and torso. He was suddenly feeling as if the distance between them was far more than the hundred miles of space between their lips right now. Just to make sure he didn't try to reach across it, he clasped his hands behind his head, staring up at the pipes-and-beams ceiling, avoiding Xander's eyes. "Well, I told you to bloody ask if you wanted to know something, so...ask, then."

"Don't tell me what to do. Not today," Xander said forcefully. Spike glanced back down at his face. The black brows were furrowed at him. Serious. What, puppy-child's decided to take control? Spike almost laughed. Except that he rather liked it, in a suicidal sort of way, so...

"Alright. Your show."

Xander nodded at him. "Yeah, it is. Straight answer."

Spike couldn't hold back a snicker. Couldn't resist stealing a line from the moron who stuck that bit about courtship in his head, and therefore was somehow responsible for letting it slip out of his mouth. "No vampire, anywhere, ever gave anybody a straight answer. But I'll try."

"Is this more than fucking? Are we...friends?"

 

*****

No answer. Fuck this. Xander suddenly realized he wanted the answer. "Spike, dammit, look at me. How old are you? Five? Six? You're a hundred and whatever. You've got the biggest balls on the planet, so you're always saying. Look at me."

Spike…finally lowered his eyes. And Xander wasn't prepared for the look in them. He knew they changed shades of blue, depending on whether Spike was laughing, or pissed, or coming on to him, or any of a hundred other psycho mood swings Spike was capable of. He knew they turned yellow when Spike vamped out. But he'd had never seen them like this. Sort of embarrassed and relieved, or maybe Xander just didn't have a clue how to read Spike after all.

Don't know what the hell it means. Just that he's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my whole God damned life, and I'm fucked if I'm gonna let him walk out of here 'cause he thinks he's some badass who can't admit he likes me. Because he does. I mean, you might give blowjobs to somebody you don't like, but do you play Scrabble with them? Something was a bit off about that reasoning, but he wasn't ready to examine it too closely.

"Friends? Like 'do you want to go bowling' friends?" Spike let out a throttled laugh.

"Yeah. Like that. Friends. Insert clappy theme song here." He whistled a few notes.

"Blecch."

"For the friends? Or the song?"

"The song."

"That was an indirect answer, and does not qualify as straight," Xander said sternly, suppressing a smile. "Fine, I'll be the idiot first, since it comes so easy to me. I like you, Spike. Believe it or not. You make me laugh, and you manage to piss Buffy off without getting bitch-slapped, most of the time, which is pretty impressive. Can't stand you sometimes, but that goes for all of my other friends, too. 'Course, none of them can make me scream like you do." Or feel this way when I'm with them. Willow comes closest, but it's not the same. Like it's okay to just let go, because it's safe, it's the best place to be, it's...home.

Spike was silent for a minute. A long minute. Then he bridged the space between them. Put his other hand on the back of Xander's head, and brought it gently down to him. Whispered into the crook of Xander's neck.

"Yeah. We're friends. I bloody like you too. Don't let it get around."

*****

He hadn't had to say it, after all. Xander hadn't asked it of him. Hadn't seemed to realize it was even a possibility. Hell. Reprieved by an even more pathetic, but less dangerous admission-- that he...liked Harris. Thought the boy was funny, in his own way. A laugh to be around. A warped little perspective on what it was like to be nineteen and alive in the deadest town in California. A set of sporadically-appearing knackers that beat bloody all. You're mates, Spike. Snicker, snicker... Snarky Voice Number Two. He recognized the little bastard, by this time. Yeah. So what. We're mates. Sod off.

"Look, am I gonna get a kiss outta this?" Spike asked, finally.

Xander answered him with silent lips, brushing them gently across Spike's, then nibbling softly on Spike's lower one, which he was only too happy to stick out for the full treatment. Warm and wet, Xander's mouth covered his, lips sliding in and out between his own, tongue finally darting into Spike's mouth and staking a claim. Warm and soft and slow, tasting of chocolate and cola, and getting hotter and harder and faster, until Xander suddenly pulled back and smiled.

"What day is it, Spike?"

Spike stared at him suspiciously. "I am awake, y'know." Well, mostly awake. Kind of. Then his mind did one of those little flips, like where you realize suddenly that you're in California and really shouldn't be driving in the left lane. Not that such had ever happened to Spike. With anyone around to see it, anyway. He caught on to what the boy was talking about. "Christ. I have no fuckin' idea. It's a weekday, 'cos Passions was on, but..." He really didn't. Tuesday? Friday?

"Yeah. Me too. Didn't have a clue. I only figured out it was Thursday by lookin' at the schedule at work. We've been doing the cabin-fever thing, Spike. Fuck here, go out at night but only where nobody important can see us, I go to work, you go to sleep, come straight back and start the whole thing over. "

"Not all that terrible, was it?" Spike said, licking his lips...

"No.... guess I wouldn't trade it for shoe-shopping with Cordelia. Except for the damn Basement of Doom. But it really would be nice to see other people. In the non-dumpy sense of the phrase."

Spike ran his fingers over the too-long hair, growing shaggy, smelling of tropical fruit shampoo. Yanked gently on a lock of it.

"You gonna let me up now?"

"Hmm...Poor Spike. Did I embarrass you?"

"If I say yes, will you let me up?" Spike answered with a growl. Yes, as a matter of fact. Human idiot.

"Maybe."

"Well, then, maybe."

"Well, then, maybe we should take a nap and you can think about whether that's your final answer."

And they did. Spike was still tired, and Xander was obviously getting there, and sleep was definitely a good place to be when you had a friend in your arms.

*****

God knew how many hours later, Xander stretched and smiled and realized he was still on top of Spike. Frowned, and realized he'd gotten distracted again. He thumped the sleeping vampire not-too-gently on the head. "Hey-- wake up. Time to play."

Hallmark moment and post-mushiness naptime are over! Time to really see if he could surprise Spike. He'd been working on it for two days, after all. If he'd spent this much time and effort on his homework back in high school, he might not be a minimum-wage kinda guy these days. Then again, this had seemed a bit more important, somehow, than fourth period Social Studies... and a hell of a lot more fun.

Spike opened his eyes, and there wasn't any sleep in them now. Sparkling with devilish intentions. Too bad. It was Xander's turn for your basic non-Hellmouthy dementia. He had plans.

"If I say yes, will you let me up now ? " Spike asked.

"Yeah."

"Then yeah. Just a bit. Berk."

Xander chuckled and rolled off him. When he started to get up, however, Xander pushed him back down.

"Uh-uh."

"What?" Spike asked, puzzled.

"You get up when I say you get up, rentboy." He'd been practicing this tone for a couple of days, on the rear-view mirror in the car as he drove to work. God knows what the other drivers thought when he stopped at red lights. Spike's eyes widened.

"Oh....kay, right." The vampire lay still, a small smile spreading across his face...

"So get up. Now." Spike chortled softly at that, but stood up with a quickness that was pretty impressive in somebody who had just woken up from a long summer's nap.

"Get me that bag on the counter." Spike raised his scarred eyebrow, but complied, handing him the crinkly plastic bag, from which Xander pulled a water-treated canvas tarp. Now the other eyebrow shot up. Way up. Xander's turn to let Spike's best smirk steal over his face. Nyah-nyah... got you doin' a Barney Fife on me, and don't I wish I had the Polaroid in my hands right now...

He spread the tarp over the bed, while Spike leaned against the stairway with his arms folded over his chest, obviously interested, but unwilling to give in and ask. When every square inch of the bed was covered, with the pillows on top, he looked back at Spike. Who was now trying some kind of 'I have absolutely no interest in what you're up to' schtick, with no success whatsoever. He might as well have been staring at the ceiling and whistling.

Xander crossed his own arms. "Okay. Get your jeans off and lay down. Face down." Aha! Reward! Surprise on Spike's face. Worth every bit of aggravation Spike had ever thrown at him, just for that look. That dumbfounded look with the gorgeous mouth hanging slightly open.

Spike wasted no time in following his order, though, unbuttoning his beltless jeans, unzipping them and skinning them down to the floor. Almost too fast for Xander to enjoy the view. But not quite. Spike climbed back onto the bed, and it was an innocent pleasure to watch the muscles in his ass flex as he lay down again. Xander tore himself away reluctantly from the sight of Spike's pale backside, and the curve where it tucked in again, like the body of a guitar, before swelling into the strength of his lower back. Time enough for all that in a minute.

He went to the fridge, pulling from the tiny freezer compartment the prize that he'd brought home today, the one that he didn't have time to pick up yesterday afternoon, because it would've melted. Yesterday afternoon, he'd been... busy with other things. It wasn't quite true that he'd been coming straight home from work. He'd made a few detours yesterday and today. Sampled a few flavors, too, before deciding to go with the tried-and-true... along with the definitely new and different.

Frozen carton in hand, Xander grabbed a can from the refrigerated section below, and picked up his other bag of supplies from where he'd dropped it before crawling into bed with Spike. He plucked a large spoon from the cup-o-silverware, and almost as an afterthought, scooped up the brown paper bag he gotten at the pawn shop on College Avenue. He finally hauled the whole kit-and-kaboodle, to quote his grandmother Oh, so not an image I need in my head right now, thanks... over to the bed, where Spike was peeking around to see what he was doing.

"Did I say you could look, mister?" Xander asked forbiddingly.

Spike... giggled. Damn vampire.

"What?" Xander asked with a warning growl.

"It's just... you make such a cute little top..." Spike choked out.

"Oh yeah, very submissive. And I'm not little. I'm two inches taller than you. Unless you're implying..." Xander trailed off, with the threat implicit in his artificially lowered voice that if Spike was implying, revenge would be imminent...

"Oh, no." Chuckle. "No, not implying. Not complaining. Never complain..."

Xander guffawed at that one. "You never complain? It's tew cold, it is. C'mere and be me pillow. We're out of Weetabix. Yew fell asleep in the middle of me story. Y' don't love me anymore. The damn licorice is stale.... " He went on in a horrible exaggerated Cockney, purposely designed to piss Spike off, since the Londoner apparently had some sort of thing about not being from that part of the city. Psycho Limey Vampire. Like different parts of Sunnydale had different accents? Oh, I'm not from Brentwood Hills, I'm from Forsythia Drive. How dare you!

In his own voice, he added, "I could've made you try to chew through real ropes, y'know..."

He set his supplies on the bed, far enough away from Spike's head that the vampire couldn't twist around to see them without being obvious about it. Traced Spike's spine with the cold handle of the spoon, and was rewarded with a barely disguised jump-and-squeak-and-I'm-a-big-bad-vampire-nothing-surprises-me cough.

"So...what didn't you do yesterday?" Xander prompted his lover. His...friend, and wasn't that a kick in the ass.

"Get my end away, 'cos you fell asleep in the middle of my bloody story?" Spike offered sulkily. Xander smacked him gently on the ass with the spoon.

"Be-have!"

"Right. Sorry. I don't know, sir, what didn't I do yesterday?" Spike was halfway between playing along and his usual sarcasm, which Xander guessed was really the best he was going to get.

"You didn't ask me what I did after work, and why the ice cream would've melted, because you were too busy griping about your poor bad back. Which I did a kick-ass job on, didn't I." Silence. "Spike..."

"Yes. " Sigh… "You did. What, then, O Master, did you do after work?" The side of Spike's face was sort of smashed against the makeshift drop-cloth, so his words were a little slurred.

"Bought stuff. And surfed."

"Ergh... as in... sun and sand, stayed away from the vampire to go do the Beach Boys thing?" Spike let out a very non-bottomy growl, and Xander pinched him on the back of the thigh.

"No, not that kind of surfing. Almost smashed myself in the head with the board the one time I tried it." He took a look at his canvas, and liked what he saw. Shook up the cold can in his hand. " I can sidewalk surf," he added thoughtfully, " though I haven't done it in a long time."

"Sidewalk surf? Cruising for birds, y'mean?" Spike asked, confused.

"No, skateboarding. Master of the pavement. Well, maybe slave of the pavement, considering the number of times my face came in contact with it." Xander suddenly remembered that he was supposed to be in charge here. Damn distracting vampire. "Don't speak unless you're spoken to. I wouldn't want to have to forget all about this and beat your bratty undead ass instead."

"So... this is essentially a win-win situation for me, innit?" Spike laughed.

"Or I could just go bowling with Willow... I'm sure she and Tara could use some company..."

Silence. Good vampire. Xander popped the cap off the can of Rhedi-Whip, and began to cover Spike's lower back and asscheeks with whipped cream. Schloosch.....

"Hey! That's bloody cold!"

"You ain't seen nothin' yet. Be a good boy and shut up." Xander dipped a finger in the whipped cream and brought it up to Spike's mouth. "Open up..." Spike's tongue darted out and licked his finger. Followed by lips that sucked greedily at it until he pulled it away with a pop.

Pulling the next item out of his grocery bag, he realized he'd forgotten a bit of preparation. Twisting the cap off the jar, he hopped up from where he knelt beside the bed, to put the glass jar in the microwave for a minute. Just long enough to get the contents gooey and warm, without being hot enough to actually burn Spike. When he brought it back, he again offered a fingerful to Spike. The rough tongue that licked the warm fudge sauce off his finger was decidedly more enthusiastic now that chocolate had entered the picture.

Setting the jar on the floor, he moved on to the main event, as it were. Opening the round carton of ice cream, he used the tablespoon to slowly scoop out the entire pint of frozen confection, placing large dollops atop the cold whipped cream on Spike's skin. Ahh, ice cream. Food of the Gods, sent to Earth to torment us mere mortals into thinking about what kind of great shit they're obviously keeping to themselves up there. Spike twitched when the first very cold scoop touched his left cheek, and Xander took pity on him.

"Ye-es?" he prompted.

"What...precisely... is that?" Spike asked curiously.

"Ben and Jerry's Half-Baked---which is chocolate fudge brownie and chocolate chip cookie dough mixed together in a fifty-fifty ratio. Precisely." Xander answered amicably, and then he reached for the banana.

Which he wasn't going to anything terribly nasty with, though he half wanted to show it to Spike beforehand, just to see the expression on that face...

*****

Spike was... cold, just a bit, and far more over the edge into pleasantly surprised than he'd been when he'd first found the unopened tube of lube in the now-infamous drawer-under-the-telly. More pleasantly surprised than he'd been the first time Xander'd smacked him on the arse, and about even with the moment not that long ago when he realized he wasn't going to have to tell Xander he loved the boy. This time. This bit of happy glow, though, was unmarred by angst and stupidity. It was just... Xander's doing something fun! And I get to play too!

"Chocolate fudge brownie... y'know, I haven't had that one."

"Heathen. And you call yourself a chocoholic." Xander laid something long and heavy against the crack of Spike's arse, and he was once again... well, not exactly pleasantly surprised, because he was reasonably sure the brat was still completely clothed. So...vaguely confused, but too comfy to bother asking. Then there was the warm stuff, drizzled over him, hitting his bare skin here and there, landing, he assumed, on the ice cream, mostly. Hot fudge. Well, warm fudge. He liked where this was going.

He heard Xander shake a jar of something that rattled...

"Nuts? Please, not nuts. Don't fancy trying to chase peanut pieces out of my arse-crack..." Spike requested, breaking the no-talking rule. Like Xander was going to stop now, anyway...

"Chocolate sprinkles. And that's not gonna be an issue. Trust me," Xander replied, waving his hands over Spike's back, obviously dropping chocolate sprinkles into the concoction that was already melting its way over his skin. He could see the need for the bloody tarp, anyway. This was a bit messier than gooey donuts on the sheets.

Finally, the sound of another vacuum-packed lid being undone, and Xander placed two... somethings, on each of Spike's cheeks. Then Xander's fingers re-appeared in front of his face with another treat, and Spike figured out what the somethings must've been. Bright red maraschino cherries. Spike stuck his tongue out to taste the vaguely cinnamony candied-fruit, then sucked on it happily while Xander still held the stem. At last he bit it off, and muttered around it, "Already had this, you know..."

"Yeah? Was mine better?" Xander teased him.

"Possibly."

Xander backed off, and Spike could hear the rustling of a paper bag. The odd sound of something plastic snapping open, sliding back... Time passing…Ice cream was melting all over him, and he couldn't figure out what the bloody hell Xander was doing. Then there was a telltale schnick and a flash of bright light.

"You little son of a bitch! You took a picture ? "

Schnick! Flash!

"Nope. Two. One for you, one for me."

"You're dead."

"No, you're dead. You're Spike. I have a pulse. I'm Xander. You really are still asleep, aren't you."

"No. Who the hell are you planning on getting to develop those?"

Xander laid a small square of paper, about four inches by four, on the back of the couch, right where Spike could keep an eye on it. A Polaroid snapshot, just developing itself out of the white mist. He reached for it, and Xander tapped the spoon on his arse again.

"Uh-uh. Bad Spike. Don't touch. Remember, I have the other one, anyway."

 

*****

Xander looked at his creation, and found it good. Not that he was getting all sacrilegious about the unbelievably hot demonic guy in his bed, who gave a damn about Xander. Despite the fact that Spike allegedly didn't have a soul. What could be sacrilegious about comparing Spike to the world? He was just as annoying and crazy and scary and just occasionally wonderful.

The Slayerette, who was so far from thinking of himself as Buffy's sidekick at the moment, set his own copy of the picture on the table next to the bed, and began to peel his clothes off. This could, after all, get very messy, with any luck, and chocolate fudge was a bitch to get out of cotton/poly blends. Shirt, chinos, undershirt, boxers... and he was kneeling naked on the bed next to Spike, a spoon in his hand, sampling some of his evening snack.

"Oi... you gonna share any of that, or am I just a convenient way to not have to do dishes for another day?"

Xander loaded up the spoon with whipped cream, ice cream (with a nice big chunk of brownie in it) and one of the maraschino cherries, and delivered it upstate to Spike's mouth. The vampire sighed happily around the spoonful of pre-sugar-high.

"So... you done this before?" Xander asked as Spike finally licked ice cream off his lips.

"What... ate an ice cream sundae off my own arse? No, I think this qualifies as a first. Congratulations."

"It's not just a sundae," Xander corrected him, reaching back with the spoon for a piece of whipped-cream covered fruit. "It's a banana split."

Spike laughed, and that too was pretty damned good. "I was wondering. Very inventive. Full marks."

And they slowly ate their way through a hell of a lot of chocolate and whipped cream and ice cream and sprinkles and banana, and all the other interesting things that can be found in a carton of Ben and Jerry's. Finally Xander looked down at Spike and realized with a start that they'd consumed it all. Every last bite. Bleurgh. But a good kind of bleurgh. The kind of bleurgh you took Polaroids of, and then hid them in the drawer under the TV with all the other stuff your mother had better never find.

He compared the now-developed picture of Spike, covered with ice cream and toppings, twin cherries poking up from each of his asscheeks, to the vampire now lying sated (at least in terms of the munchies...) on the bed, melted ice cream dripping down his back, into the crack of his ass...

"You're a mess," he proclaimed.

"You're one to talk, you neurotic little git." Spike retorted, licking his ice-cream-coated fingers. Somehow there'd been a little fight over a spoon in there, and at some point there'd been the transferring of the second cherry from one mouth to the other, with no spoon involved at all.

"I meant, psychotic dead guy, that you're covered in gooey sloppy stuff."

"Shower?" Spike suggested hopefully.

"Well, yeah, but not yet."

 

*****

And Xander was... slowly licking ice cream and fudge sauce from Spike's back, swirling his tongue around in slick circles... moving down to Spike's arse, with long sweeps of that tongue, like a big dark cat licking at him. A panther... Well, a somewhat geeky panther with an extremely talented tongue. When Xander's hands firmly grabbed hold of Spike's thighs, he was a bit thrown. Just a bit. Then the soft tongue disappeared from his skin, and was used for its allegedly higher purpose, as Xander spoke, the heaviness of command once again lowering his voice past its usual cracking tenor.

"Spread 'em." And damn if that didn't send ridiculous little thrills up and down his spine, regardless of the fact that it was spoken by a nineteen year old human kid playing at being the boss for the first time. So Spike shifted his legs, being a good evil dead guy, though he wasn't entirely sure what Xander was up to. He was feeling strangely, happily vulnerable, though, as Xander's hands spread his cheeks even wider apart.

He was certainly unprepared for the feeling of Xander's tongue on him again, tracing its way down his much-more-exposed crack, and swirling around his arsehole with a torturous, ticklish touch. Wet and soft and driving him utterly barmy. Ducking down to lick the sensitive strip of skin between his bollocks and hole, which just about had him ripping matching holes in the canvas tarp beneath him. Where the hell...this was supposed to be my little surprise...how did he... Back to swirling again, just close enough to make him squirm.

Then Xander's tongue darted into him, and there wasn't a lot of wondering to be done as the muscular little snake bathed his inner passage in slick, warm sensation, and he ground helplessly against the bed. Far beyond pleasantly surprised.

*****

Xander had been...curious, but a bit nervous. Maybe a little theoretically grossed out by the concept, until he tasted the skin on Spike's ass, cool and clean except for the delicious stickiness of chocolate and ice cream. Realized he wanted more. That his diligent efforts at distinctly non-Gilesy research hadn't been completely half-baked after all. Spike was way getting off on this, and he tasted good. Like ice cream and chocolate, of course, and like Spike, a lot like the way Spike's lips tasted, only stronger. A weird kind of spicy but salty but rainy taste.

When he finally dared to put his tongue inside Spike, he found the taste was the same... just more distinct. Deeper. The feel of Spike writhing on the bed was enough to spur him on to a little action beyond just being in there, and he thrust his tongue in and out of the tight, cool space. I'm actually fucking somebody with my tongue...which, okay, done before, but definitely not there.

When, at last, he started to get a bit tired, and Spike was grinding against the mattress like he'd get off in a minute just from the friction, Xander pulled his tongue out. Replaced it with an index finger coated in spit and melted ice cream, and moved that in and out, repeatedly hitting the spot that he now recognized as the one that sent Spike off into fireworks-ville.

"Xan...der... God, luv, please..." Spike muttered into the pillow. "Gonna... come all over the bed and I want you in me when I do!"

It was just about the best request he'd ever heard, and Xander didn't need a hell of a lot of convincing. Pulling his finger out to the tune of a disappointed groan from Spike, he guided his erection, already slippery with pre-come, to the hole he'd just ravaged with his tongue and finger. Pushed slowly in until he felt his balls hit against Spike's ass. Spike pushed back up against him, and he answered in kind, feeling the sudden need to pound into his lover for all he was worth. Nothing gentle here, nothing hesitant, just him and the body beneath him, grinding in mutual rhythm, shaking the bed, creaking the damn shitty springs and probably bending that support bar back into its original back-attacking dip, and he didn't care.

He did care about Spike, who was making little animal groans of pleasure that mingled with his own in a symphony that, at this point, he could give a shit whether his parents heard from upstairs. If they hadn't heard anything else that had gone on in this basement in the last year, they were pretty unlikely to suddenly grab a clue now, anyway. Frankly, if the door at the top of the stairs had burst open and his Dad had come thundering down at them, he probably wouldn't have noticed. For a while, anyway. There was just Xander and Spike and each other, bodies pressed together, one piece of flesh, two minds. Every other moment or so, it almost seemed to him that it was the other way around. One mind. His hands on Spike's waist, Spike's hands on the tarp, doing nasty things to it, like it mattered. Like anything beyond the two of them mattered at this point, and just when he thought he was going to fall over from exhaustion, because even a nineteen year old guy shouldn't be able to do that for that long, he felt the heat finally build to an explosion. Shooting out of him and into Spike in waves that sent electric sweet sugar-rush fire back up his own nerve endings, 'til it felt like every cell in his body was being lit-up from within.

Spike was still pushing against him, and with his cock still half-hard inside Spike's ass, with his arms tight around Spike's waist, and with whatever part of his mind was still working wondering if God ever pardoned vampires in exchange for really good sex, Xander pulled that slim body up. He reached around to stroke Spike's rigid shaft, once, twice, and on the third firm pull back, Spike let loose all over his fingers, leaning back into him with a low, long growl. They sat that way for a second, maybe two... Xander on his knees, Spike pulled back against him... before they fell sideways onto the bed, with a creak of the springs and a laugh from Spike.

*****

A few minutes of Xander-breathing and Spike mentally what-the-hell-ing later, Spike rolled over to face his lover. Who was wearing the shit-eating grin that his Spike-double had worn in this afternoon's barmy dream.

"Right, you little bastard. Where'd you learn that? That was my little trick to show you, and you fucking ice-cream scooped me on it."

Xander winked at him, which would've been a bit more seductive if A) the boy wasn't still breathing hard and trying not to laugh at the same time, and B) Spike wasn't almost completely knackered. "Research."

"We'd best be talking about secondary sources here... or did the Watcher give you a little tutorial? That I could almost go for..." And Spike pictured super-dignified Rupert regressing to his not-so-long-ago youth, those silly specs tossed on the floor as he tongued into Xander, who was bent over the same sofa that Spike had slept several lonely nights on. Xander, trousers round his ankles, hands on the cushions, round little backside in the air, getting the lesson of a lifetime. Instead of the jealousy he expected, a little twinge of lust shot through his groin. Not completely knackered, apparently. Oh… get an unlife, down there. Boy's shagged out.

"You are totally disturbed, Spike. I can't begin to describe how much I don't want to even travel in the vicinity of the neighborhood where that thought might be temporarily living. I told you. I went surfing."

"Surfing? What in the name of all that's unholy are you on about?"

Xander made little motions with his right index finger. "Point. Click. Surf."

Point...click... Holy Hell, or other blasphemies to that effect... He'd gone surfing... On the net? "You went out looking on the bloody internet?" Xander? With the balls to click his way into... "Double-you double-you double-you dot rimming dot com?" Snicker. "You get the witch to help you with that one, then?"

And another naughty little scene flitted through Spike's mind: Xander at Willow's computer, the quirky-faced redhead frowning as she leaned over his shoulder to help him navigate, Xander's face as red as her hair. Spike really had to stop having such vivid dreams. They were carrying over into his waking hours, and… yeah. There it was. The lovely little warm flare of pre-getting-it-up-again, courtesy of the thought of Willow and Xander, flamey hair brushing against dark curls, looking at dirty pictures together. He really was disturbed, of course, but this was just your normal Spikey insanity, and he reveled in it. The shit that turned him on made sense to his cock and whichever deity or demon made him, and that was about it.

Xander sputtered at him. "No, I think that comes under the heading of 'Things Willow Not Only Doesn't Know Exist, But Must Never Know.' God, you're twisted, Spike! I went to the library. Where they have a nice quiet little room with semi-private cubes where you can point-and-click your way into all kinds of completely perverted sites, with nobody looking over your shoulder to see what a sicko you are. "

"And you found a site on rimming?" Spike asked with actual interest.

Xander suddenly slipped into shy-phase. Of all the times to do it, after he'd already done it. "Yeah. A… couple of sites. On all kinds of things. How to do…stuff. How to do things better. You really should see at least one of 'em."

Not that Spike didn't want to, but… Not that he was worried about it, but… "Meaning I need some pointers?"

"No, you idiot. Meaning I think you'd like it. It's got pictures. Um… good pictures."

Spike considered the idea. Yeah, maybe he could use a little spot of techno-geekiness, if it meant figuring out how to hunt-up all those nasty little images he'd heard were out there. Maybe even print 'em, so he could leave them lying around to make Xander blush. If he was going to do it, though, he would go to the little Wiccan hacker genius. Be so much bloody fun to see her face turn pretty colors when he told her exactly what he wanted to learn for. Leaving out the Xander bit, of course. Serious entertainment possibilities, there.

"What the hell put it into your mind to go and do that?" Spike asked, stretching suddenly. Because if he didn't get the hell out of that bed, he was going to turn around and shag the boy blind. Which might just leave him with a corpse on his hands. Not that he was being vain.

*****

Xander looked at Spike, who had sat up, and was stretching. Wakey-up type stretching. And… oh. Whatever sick little thoughts he'd been having about Giles…or Willow.. or… yeah. Vampires and getting it up again in minutes. That was something he still hadn't quite gotten used to. Or maybe it was just Spike, since he hadn't actually had experience with any other vampires. And he certainly wasn't about to compare notes with Buffy.

Spike wanted to know why. Aside from the simple desire to do something to make him happy? Which probably wasn't worth sharing, since Spike didn't need a bigger ego than he already had. "Wanted to surprise you. Smarmy, know-it-all, here-let-me-show-you-how-it's-done bastard."

Spike grinned at him, and stood up. White statue of a guy in the faded light of the one lamp they'd left on. It had gotten dark out there. They must really have conked out. And Spike in the pale light looked like something out of the Art Appreciation class Xander had passed with a surprisingly high average in tenth grade. Twitch. Whaddya know… maybe it wasn't just vampires.

"Well, you did. Consider me surprised."

"I consider you a complete mess. You need a shower. We need a shower. And then…"

Spike twisted his lips in that look that said 'I know you want to fuck me, so what are you waiting for?' louder than any similar words could ever do.

"And then?"

Xander got up too. Dragged the canvas tarp off the bed, careful not to spill assorted evidence, edible and otherwise, across the bed or the floor. Crumpled the thing up next to the bag of weapons he still hadn't had the chance to go through.

Out, out, out. Somewhere. They had to go out. Somewhere with people, who knew what day it was. Sometime soon, they had to actually get out. Leave the damn basement and find someplace sane to live. Or not live, in Spike's case. When Xander could be sure things would be at least…safe, upstairs, if not happy. But for now…

"We gotta get out of this place."

"If it's the last thing we ever do…" Spike agreed musically. Which was the first time Xander had ever heard him sing when he wasn't completely blasted. Spike's singing voice was surprisingly higher than his obnoxiously sexy speaking voice. Xander liked it. He could suddenly picture them singing along together in the car, if they could ever find some music they actually agreed on. Sick, weird, twisted mind, Xander. Kareoke Spike.

"Right. Wanna go bowling?" Groan.

*****

They emerged from the shower a little cleaner, a lot wetter, and both having ingested a nice bit of post-sundae snack. Desperate to get the hell out of there.

Out. Out. Xander was right. Great sex or not, Xander or not, the basement was suddenly driving Spike up the concrete walls. There was a world outside. A moon to howl at. Happy meals on legs, and if he couldn't eat them, he could at least take the piss, and walk the streets of Sunnydale with his… With his friggin' friend, Xander Harris.

He reached down for his jeans, where they lay on the floor next to the bed, and Xander stopped him with a shout.

"Hey, wait a minute!"

"What-- you wanna go out starkers?" Spike turned to him, trousers in hand.

Xander covered his mouth with one hand, and then sang in an exaggerated country accent, "Oh yes, they call him the Streak….he likes to show off his physique…" The boy broke down into giggles. No fuckin' taste in music at all.

"No," Xander said at last. "I just have a damn favor to return. Bend over."

What, three times in one night? Or were they going for a little of the other sort of fun? Whatever. Spike was game. He put his hands down on the bed, wiggling his arse at Xander and craning his head round to look behind him. The boy fiddled around in that bloody great shopping bag that had disgorged all the lovely treats, and at last came up with something in his hand. Something that opened with a half-familiar plastic snap. Then Xander was behind him, licking his arse again, which was nice, but…

Oh hell. That's what the brat was up to. Serves you right, smartarse.

*****

Xander pulled the paper backing off and admired Spike's new tattoo. It had cost him four-fifty in quarters to get the one he wanted. He was also something of a god to a little group of grade-schoolers, who had gleefully accepted the seven assorted Pokemon and Batman tattoos he'd pulled out before finally getting this one. And the Hello Kitty one for Willow...

"So what is it, then?" Spike asked with resigned sigh, twisting around to try to see it. No such luck, nyah-nyah.

Xander said nothing. Sure, Spike would pester him about it for days, but it would drive the vampire absolutely nucking futs, so it sounded like a fair trade.

"Hey, you know I can't see it in the mirror. S'not fair."

"Whine, whine, whine." The only way Spike would find out what that tattoo was would be if Xander gave in and told him, or he dropped his pants for somebody else, and asked. The pants-dropping wouldn't phase Spike in the least, Xander was sure, but having to explain how it had gotten there, and the fear of what it might actually be... that ought to keep Spike's jeans in place. Xander snickered to himself. Revenge was pretty fucking sweet, sometimes.

*****

And they made it outside without shagging again, much to Spike's surprise. The sky was covered in stars, all whispering the weather report to Dru somewhere, probably, but there actually wasn't a moon to howl at. He really had lost track. The air was still, the night was warm, the little crickety-bugs were doing their best to drive Spike crazier that usual... And what the hell was there to actually do in Sunnydale, aside from look for night-things to beat up?

In Xander's car. Driving. Just around. Trying to think of something to do that wouldn't be a repetition of the trapped-in-the-basement syndrome. Finally Xander turned to Spike, and the look in those brown eyes was more frightening than any angsty Dawson's Creek moment the vampire had ever experienced. Because he knew what Xander was going to say, with the sudden psychic clarity that only comes to the completely doomed.

"You... wanna actually go bowling?"

Spike banged his head against the dash, repeatedly. Xander... seemed to be a bit concerned.

"Or... mini-golf? I mean... this is Sunnydale. There's not all that much to do that isn't Hellmouthy. Um... movie?"

Spike stopped the banging. It fucking hurt, anyway, and it didn't seem to be doing any good. "I don't bowl."

Xander was laughing at him again, and it was beginning to piss him off. Especially since he had a sodding tattoo on his behind and no way of figuring out what it was.

"You mean you don't know how to bowl. "

Grrrrr...

Xander babbled on. "That's okay. It's been a while for me, too. Last time I was gonna go bowling, somebody hit me over the head with a microscope and dragged me off to an abandoned factory. Really oughta look that guy up and kick his skinny English ass."

Grrrr...

"We could go get the witches. Willow's not all that good at it, but she's a kickin' score-keeper."

"Grrrrr...."

*****

Tara, as a matter of fact, bowled like a pro. Willow spent the evening rolling gutterballs, keeping score, and cheering the blonde on. Possibly drooling a little bit, very daintily, over her girlfriend.

Spike, after he'd worn out the fun of bitching about the geeky shoes, discovered that he had yet another reason to swagger around town, as if he needed any more. He blew all three of them off the lanes, sending Willow into uber-cute Pout-Face.

"Undead hustler!" she accused. Which, in turn, had Spike waggling his eyebrows and quoting prices for his services, and Willow blushing and stammering.

Xander, on the other hand, with the legitimate excuse of watching an untaught master of the sport at work, was just having the time of his life staring at Spike's ass.


Note: That "court me with more grace" stuff comes from The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It isn't actually poetry; Spike's just being defensive, and commenting on the generally poetic nature of the book. Which Spike would never admit to reading voluntarily -- he'd just say Dru made her read it to him. And "Not boys; a boy" is another nod to Spike's favourite episode of Blackadder.





Epilogue : Far Too Early the Next Morning

"Xan...der...." buzzed a little voice in his ear. Great. Gnat season had started early. Xander sleepily tried to smack the thing, only for his hand to come into contact with somebody's hard skull, centimeters away from his ear.

"Xan....der..." Spike whined again.

"What, Spike?" Xander hissed through gritted teeth.

"What's the tattoo of?"

Smack. This time it was intentional, but Spike just laughed at him.

"I'm not telling you, so get an unlife and go back to sleep. It's..." he squinted at the red numbers on the radio alarm clock (the new radio alarm clock, since Spike had smashed the old one with his bootheel when he couldn't get it to shut off...) "two-thirty in the morning. I'm tired."

Grumble. Silence. He was waiting for it, though.

"Xan-der..."

Sigh. "What, Spike..."

"How'd you manage to go websurfing on Wednesday if you couldn't sit down?"

Annoying bastard. Why do I keep him around here again? "Carefully. Would you like to find out? Go to sleep."

"Now that you mention it.... Did get the highest bowling score..."

"That didn't count, and you know it. What if Tara had won?"

"Wouldn't have said no to givin' that little bottom a good smacking... seems fair..."

"Go to sleep, Spike."

Silence. More silence. Freakin' deafening silence.

"WHAT, Spike?!!" Xander finally snapped.

"You get the idea for the sundae all in your own little head?"

"Mostly."

"Mmmm?"

"The recipe she gave was actually for a three-course meal. The ice cream was my idea."

Spike was kind of gnawing on his earlobe now, which was usually nice, but the little hamster in his wheel inside the vampire's skull must have been running the hundred-yard dash, because the nibbling was starting to hurt. A distracted vampire with an oral fixation is a dangerous thing to have in your bed.

"Hey, ow!" Spike moaned, his teeth disappearing from Xander's ear. "Christ, I hate this chip. Wasn't trying to hurt you. Okay, I have to ask. She? What the hell was this site you were looking at?"

Lala la la la....

"Xan-der..."

"If I tell you, will you shut up about the tattoo for tonight, and go to sleep?"

"Er... yeah. S'pose."

"It's called 'Nancy's Home for Wayward Boys.' "

Two-thirty in the morning silence when you've just been woken up by your asshole of a lover who lives, or rather doesn't, to drive you absolutely crazy... is the second loudest kind of silence there is. Thankfully, it was broken by the sound of Spike tittering in his ear. Snuffling and snorting and doing all kinds of things that a guy who didn't need to breathe shouldn't have to do.

"Nancy's... home for.... oh, God, that's precious. Suits you to a tee. Only you could go out and get gay sex advice from a woman...." Spike lost it, and Xander lost what little patience he had left.

"Get up," he ordered.

"Eh?" Spike replied between gasps of laughter. "No. Quite comfy here, thanks."

"Get up and get me the other carton of ice cream from the freezer. I'm gonna be hungry when I get done with this."

Spike had the light on and was across the room and back before Xander really got the chance to appreciate the sight of a naked vampire scrambling away from the bed...or towards.

The ice cream and two spoons waiting on the bedside table, Xander hauled the uncomplaining and still snickering Spike across his lap. After a moment's thought, he reached across and flicked the radio part of the alarm clock on.

"It's been... one week since you looked at me, threw your arms in the air and said 'You're crazy'... "

"Hasn't been," Spike remarked. "Been about five hours."

"Five days since you tackled me... still got the rug burns on both my knees..."

Spike giggled. "Quite like this song, but innit a little loud for the wee hours? Wouldn't want to wake Mummy and Daddy..."

"Rather have them hear this than you yelping..." Xander answered, bringing his hand down firmly on Spike's behind.

"I don't yelp" Spike answered with dignity.

"You will when I'm through with you.... Wake me up at two-thirty in the morning to bug me about the damn tattoo on your ass..."

Which looked very nice, come to think of it, on Spike's left buttock, just about where Spike had put Winnie-the-Pooh on Xander. Maybe a little lower... after all, if Spike did decide to summon up the balls to drop his pants and ask somebody else what the tattoo was, Xander didn't want to make it easier on him...

He smacked his hand down right on top of the tattoo, and was rewarded with a pleasing bounce of the pale flesh, and the tattoo as well. Well, that's what they do best, so I hear... A few more smacks (and no sound at all from Spike, though there was some nice squirming going on...) and Xander was having a thought.

"You're not gonna turn pink, are you?" he asked Spike.

"Nope..." the vampire replied mockingly.

"How'm I gonna know when you're done, then, huh?"

Xander didn't even want to see the ha-ha-got-you face Spike was undoubtedly making at the blankets. The back of Spike's head, blonde hair tousled from sleep, skull shaking with silent laughter, was enough to spur him on to smacking the slim white ass even harder.

"Guess I'll just have t'let you know, won't I..." Spike finally choked out.

Smack. Smack. "I'm being manipulated here, aren't I?" Xander asked with an exaggerated sigh.

"...problem with that?" came the muffled reply.

SMACK! SMACK! "Yelp!"

"Nope. No problem at all," Xander answered smugly. Spike pounded voicelessly on the bed, and the unreliable support bar beneath the mattress gave an ominous creak.

"This...bed..." Smack. "...has got to go..." Spike pointed out. "Gonna..." Smack! "...collapse, sooner or..." Thwap! "..later."

"Could be worse," Xander answered, watching the little waves run through the flesh in front of him. "We could be trying to do this in a waterbed."

" I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve...I have a history of losing my shirt..."

 

*****  

In the tiny glow cast by the phosphorescent reading light (no removable parts, no sharp edges, nothing you could make a bomb out of), the dark-haired young woman crumpled up yet another piece of stationery and threw it at the trash can. Took another chocolate bar from the tiny shelf next to her bed, and glanced across the cell. No movement from her sleeping cellmate, so obviously neither the light nor the thwap of crumpled paper hitting the plastic wastebasket had woken her up. Two thirty in the morning, the only one awake in a cell-block full of snoring women, trying to write something you'll never be able to put right... Alone in your head. That might very well be the loudest kind of silence there is.

She unwrapped the chocolate, broke off a piece, and let it dissolve slowly onto her tongue. He brought it to her. Him. It wasn't enough he had to bring himself, every week, like some father-confessor at St. Mary of the fuckin' Palms. No, along with his soulful basset hound face and his big old unbeating heart in that eight-foot-wide-chest, and his God-damn-it-all-to-hell understanding, he had to bring her chocolate. This chocolate. Dairy Milk, smooth and creamy and the best time you could have with your clothes on that didn't involve kicking, punching, or dusting something. God knew where the hell he got it; she'd never even seen this brand in the stores... back when she was actually free to walk into one and slip something off the candy counter and into her pocket, nobody the wiser.

She ate them all. Every last one he brought. Well, as a gesture of whatever, she did share with her cellmate, but everybody else could go fuck themselves. Sell 'em? For what? Nothing she needed in here. Nothing she needed at all, that anybody in here could give her. Trade 'em? For what? Protection? Ha freakin' ha.

Another blank piece of paper, spread out on top of a book, on top of her bed. Big hardback copy of Les Miserables. More redemption crap from Angel, long and thick And thinking those words in the same sentence as Angel's name ain't giving me any ideas, no, ma'am, and I never think of big dark dead guys when my hand's under the sheets in the middle of the night... and boring as hell but it gave her something to read besides the crap in the Offenders' Library, and it gave her a little desk to put her papers on tonight. This morning. Whatever. Another letter she wouldn't send, because there wasn't a damn thing to say. Pick somebody. Anybody. Anybody she owed something to.

"Dear Xander...

Before you tear this up, I hope you read far enough down to see the part about I'm sorry..."

Crumple.

Oh yeah, that'll do it. He's soooo fuckin' likely to read anything with your name on the outside of it anyway, Faith. Throw in some weak-ass humor, and it's just tailor-made for Harris.

"Dear Xander...

I don't do apologies very well. Maybe I don't do a lot of things very well, but I'm trying. Really trying, these days. You may not want to hear anything from me at all, but I hope you do read this much. I'm sorry I hurt you. Sorry I scared you. Sorry I was gonna do exactly what you were afraid I was gonna do. I'm..."

Crumple. Thwack.

Nothing she could say to him. Nothing she could say to any of them, that wouldn't come off sounding like "Poor, poor Faith, please forgive me, I was out of my head..." Like a whiny little kid. Whiny, helpless little kid who couldn't defend herself. Who wasn't big enough and strong enough to make it through on her own. No thanks. Not Faith. Hell, she didn't deserve their forgiveness anyway, though Angel kept trying to foist his on her like some lame Christmas present that you didn't want in the first place. Except she did... want it. All of it. She just didn't have a damn clue how to accept it. Or, in anybody else's case besides Angel's, how to even ask for it.

"Dear Xander..."

Crumple. He wouldn't even want to hear from her. It would hurt him more to be reminded of the whole thing, right? Maybe...

"Dear Buffy..."

Crumple.

She sucked the last of the chocolate from her fingers, and shoved the blank paper , pencil, and book back on the shelf. Crumpled herself into a little ball, just like the letters. Faced the wall, and tried to go back to sleep.




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