Xander's Kitten Has Kittens
A forlorn yet determined Xander sat at the bar in Willy's. It had taken some persuading on his part, but eventually he had convinced Willy that he was over twenty-one and, yes, he did know that he was in a demon hangout. Willy was dubious, but distracted by his attempts at looking down Xander's top. This proved difficult with the particular fit of the shirt, so he decided to serve this strange, grumpy, but very attractive young girl if only to give him something better to look at than the Slime Demon and the Bearded Razorback currently playing cards at the back of the bar. He sighed as he fetched Xander another drink. Being the only bona fide demon bar on the hellmouth definitely had its drawbacks. Maybe it was time for a career change, but then, who in their right minds would ever want to buy his bar?
'Hello, beautiful. You looking for a walk on the wild side?' Xander looked up at the game-faced vampire trying his damnedest to look cool as he leant on the bar. Slicked back hair, leather jacket, cigarette tucked in the corner of his mouth. Turned in his mid-twenties. Elaborate cowboy boots, slight paunch, dirty fingernails and smelt vaguely of fried chicken. Wasn't a patch on Spike. 'Only I'm new in town, and you look like you know how to party. Whadda ya say?'
'Go 'way,' Xander said and took another gulp of his drink.
The smile on the vampire's face didn't waver, but something dark flickered in his eyes. 'Oh, now don't be like that, sweet thing. I just thought that you and me could have some fun together. You ever make it with an immortal?' He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. 'We learn a lot over the years.'
'Yeah?' Xander leant back in his chair, obviously unimpressed. 'I actually have made it with an immortal before. An' a Slayer.' The vampire looked a little taken aback. 'When were you turned?' Xander continued, squinting at the vamp. 'The seventies? The eighties?'
The vampire frowned. 'Nineteen sixty-six, to be exact.'
'Ah ha.' Xander went back to his drink, staring into the bubbles intently. 'My dad's prob'ly older than you.'
Open mouthed, and more than just a little angry at the dismissive rebuttal, the vampire stepped forward and took hold of Xander's arm just above the elbow. When he spoke, his voice had taken on an inauspicious icy hue. 'Now there was no need to be rude, beautiful. How about you step outside with me and I show you exactly what it is you've been missing?'
Throwing back his head in drunken anger, Xander growled. To his absolute amazement, the vampire immediately looked terrified and backed away, his hands held up in a placating gesture.
'Yeah,' said Xander. 'An' don't come back.' Turning triumphantly back to his drink, he noticed a dark shadow to his other side. A frisson of fear travelled through him. Slowly, slowly, he looked up... to see Spike at his shoulder, looking pointedly at the intruding -- and currently retreating -- vampire, his eyes flashing amber in warning.
Xander's triumph died a quick and drab little death.
'Oh,' he said glumly. 'It's you.'
'Yeah, it's me.' Spike didn't looked impressed at the entire situation. 'Fantastic, this is. Just fantastic. I leave you alone for five minutes -- five minutes -- and you make a beeline for the only demon bar in town and you're already sozzled. Just fantastic.'
Xander sighed. 'Out of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, he walks into mine. You know, you really gotta stop following me here.'
'I didn't follow you here,' Spike insisted before he could help it, the obvious lie hanging in the air between them. 'I, ah, just fancied a pint, that's all. Didn't think you'd be here. This is my pub, not yours.'
'So sorry,' Xander grumbled. 'Didn't see your name hanging over the door.'
Spike slid onto the stool next to Xander and gestured at Willy for his usual. Willy obligingly appeared, beer in hand. 'Hey, Spike. Who's your lady friend?'
'None of your beeswax. Just be sure that she is with me, got it?'
'Sure, sure.' Willy backed away, holding up his free hand in surrender. 'Just making small talk.'
'Make it with someone else,' Spike instructed. 'But you can give me that beer first.'
Willy set the glass down. 'Always a pleasure,' he said, and left to serve the Slime Demon another half-tankard of pond scum. He sighed, grabbing the fishing net from the wall and heading to the tank out back. Some of the drinks on the menu were just more trouble than they were worth.
Spike downed half the glass in his first swallow. Optional breathing could sometimes be a real boon. 'What are you drinking?' he inquired of Xander after letting out a long and satisfied 'ahhhh.'
Xander rotated his glass on the beer-stained bar. 'Girl drink. It's pink,' he said proudly.
'I can see that. What's in it?'
'Umm... a couple of them,' Xander waved his hand at the row of bottles behind the bar. 'A few of them,' he pointed to a selection of multicoloured plastic bottles, 'and a few drops of that.' He pointed to an ancient looking clay urn perched beside the cash register.
'You drank something that came out of that urn? Xander, are you crazy?'
'What? Why?' Xander blinked rapidly, instant worry clearing his eyes momentarily. 'Is it something demony?'
'No, it'll just make you puke!'
'Oh, 'sthat all?' Xander dismissed him with another wave of his hand, his eyes fading happily back to their former bloodshot glory. 'Nah. I don't puke. I'm a man, me,' he said, slapping his hand to his chest, wincing a little when his hand connected with a loud slap against his left breast. Only temporarily phased, he continued on. 'I, uh, I can hold my liquor. Last time I was drunk I-I-I beat those demons at poker.'
'Please, dear god, don't tell the kitten poker story again,' Spike said, gripping his glass a little tighter. 'I don't think my ears could take the strain. Besides, the last time you got drunk was with me, and I drank you under the table.'
Xander thought about this for a moment. 'Oh yeah. I forgot about that. But you'ra vampire. You havva different physiom... physigno... You're put together different. You're a demon. I drink pretty good for a guy type person.'
'Yeah, but you're not a guy type person just at this precise moment in time.' Spike spoke slowly and clearly, much as one would explain to a backward five-year-old. 'You're all trussed up in that lovely curvy new body of yours and you won't be able to hold your booze like you're used to. Trust me when I say you're gonna puke... You're gonna puke.'
'Are t-- *grrr* I'm not getting sucked into another one of these retarded arguments with you, Xander.'
'Why not?' asked Xander, genuinely confused. 'Thought you liked arguing with me.'
'I do. It's a constant source of amusement, but I'm not in the mood right now, 'kay?' Spike slowly rubbed a knuckle back and forth across his forehead in deeply irritated thought.
His first beer quickly disappeared, so Spike ordered another. Deftly, in his own head at least, Xander stole it and took a sip. He pulled a face.
'Oh, come on,' Spike said. 'You telling me you can drink that sugar water like it's going out of style, but you can't handle a beer now?'
'It's not that,' Xander insisted, looking a little put out. 'You beer tastes skunky.'
'Yeah. Y'know? When it gets warm and they cool it down again. It gets skunked.'
Spike took another swallow. 'I can't taste it.'
'Huh. I thought vampire taste buds were highly developed things.'
'Yeah. For some things.' Spike ran a thumb through the condensation on his glass. 'I like food an'all, but most of it tastes...' Like ashes. '...the same.'
Xander frowned at this, his cheeks concave as he sucked more sickly sweet pinkness through his straw. 'Everything tastes the same?'
'Well, no,' Spike considered. 'There's the blood...' he trailed away with a wistful look on his face. This was quickly squelched and covered with a nonchalant sniff when he realised Xander was watching him with a drunken steadfastness. 'Yeah... well... obviously.'
'What what else?'
'What else can you taste?'
'Rain?' Xander swayed a little as he tried to process this. 'You can taste rain?'
'It's what I can taste in the rain,' Spike explained. 'I can tell what's in the water. Where it's been. What it's touched. I can taste the day and the night in it.' He stared into his glass, watching the bubbles. 'It's a little hard to explain.'
'I get that. I mean, I think I get it. As much as I could, anyway.'
Spike nodded. 'Some food is really good. Those flowering onions are the best.'
'Don't they have garlic in them?'
'Doesn't that mean you can't eat them?'
Spike smiled. 'Don't you lot know that garlic is an old wives' tale? It's just really, really pongy to our sensitive vampire noses, that's all. Vampire equivalent of eating a vindaloo.'
'Oh. Didn't know that. Didn't often use garlic against vamps. We mainly stuck to the stakes and holdy water thingies.'
Spike's smile became a little harder for him to keep in check. 'Don't you mean holy water?'
'That's what I said,' Xander replied with an over-exaggerated eye roll. 'Holdy water.
Willy pottered up and down the bar. Songs played on the jukebox. They ordered another round of drinks.
'I was just wondering...'
'That taste thing.'
'What about it?'
'When you said... When you said that thing to me, were you just sweet-talking me? I mean if you can only taste certain things.'
'When I said what thing?'
'You know... Yesterday. When you said that thing. About me.'
(... be a little sweeter now...)
'Ohh,' said Spike, smiling at the furious blush rising to Xander's cheeks. 'That thing.'
(... like a peach maybe...)
'I didn't think you'd care.'
Xander immediately showed his lack of concern. 'Me? Care? Nah. Was just wondering, tha's all. It's kinda hard to tell when you're kidding sometimes. And you are a vampire 'n all.' He waved his hands in the air. 'Big nasty evil. How could we forget? Probably just using and abusing. So you'll escuse me if I have trouble believin' you about some things.'
'I wasn't kidding you, Xander,' Spike said softly. 'Some things you just don't kid about. If I was only... using you... let's just say you'd have been a lot more miserable than this for a lot longer than this. If you catch my meaning.'
Xander frowned. 'I haven't been miserable. Until the girl thing.'
'Well then. There you go. No kidding. No misery making.' He leant in to Xander's ear and whispered. 'And you always taste delicious to me.'
The blush deepened. 'I'm still not having make-up sex with you.'
'In your present condition?' Spike took in the red eyes, the bleary stare and the continuous way Xander swayed and had to right his equilibrium on the stool. 'No. Absolutely. No make up sex.' He finished off his drink. 'And on that note...' He hopped to his feet and went to put some songs on the jukebox.
#Let's go girls#
Xander's head fell on the bar as Spike returned from the jukebox. '"Man, I Feel Like a Woman"?' he asked in disbelief. 'What else did you put on?'
'"Sisters are Doin' It for Themselves",' Spike deadpanned.
Spike tried very hard not to grin. '"Dude Looks Like a Lady".'
'And?' Xander gritted his teeth, expecting the worst.
'And "I Wanna Be Sedated".'
'You bast-- Wait.' Xander looked up at him, perplexed. 'I don't get it.'
Spike shrugged. 'That one's for me. I couldn't think of any more songs to piss you off, and it's four plays for a dollar.'
'Ah. That's right. I have to suffer under this stupid spell, and how do you help me deal? Play stupid songs on the jukebox and sit there getting dirty, stinkin' drunk. Blame me, why don'tcha? Like I can help the lousy mood I'm in.'
Well-defined cheek muscles clenched in annoyance. 'Give it a rest already, would you? You don't want to be a girl, fine. I know you're not really a girl. It's not pleasant for you, maybe, but also not the end of the world.' Xander glared at him, waiting expectantly for him to finish imparting his words of wisdom. 'And may I just remind you that it was your idea to get dirty, stinking drunk, and not mine?' Spike took a large mouthful of his fresh beer and swallowed. 'Life's a dick,' the vampire said solemnly. 'When it gets hard... fuck it.'
Xander looked him up and down, obviously deep in alcohol-fuelled thought. 'Y'know, lookin' back over the time that we've been to- hic! together, I can't help but wonder: jus' what the fuck was I thinking?'
Spike snorted with amusement. 'Bitch.'
'I was born a bitch. Wha's your excuse?'
'Actually, you were born a bastard, the bitch thing is new.'
'Touch?,' Xander said with cool panache, the effect of which was only slightly ruined when his eyes momentarily crossed. Shaking his head vigorously, he gripped the edge of the bar and attempted to stand.
'Where you going?' asked Spike.
'Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.' Xander managed a standing position after only his second attempt to get up off his stool and onto the devilishly troublesome floor, and staggered off in the general direction of the men's room. With his hand on the door, he thought better of it, did an about-face, and walked purposefully into the ladies' room.
Twelve and a half minutes later, he returned to his seat, looking more than just a little shell-shocked.
'Man, that was crazy,' he said. 'I hope I didn't brain my damage.'
'What's wrong?' Spike asked, noticing the pale pallor of Xander's skin. 'Did you puke?'
Xander shook his head. 'I always thought it was kind of fun doing new things,' he said. 'Until now.'
'What happened?' Spike asked again, a little more concerned.
'I, uh...' Xander swallowed heavily. 'I just peed sitting down.'
'Oh,' said Spike succinctly, unsure as to whether compassion was the order of the day, or whether he could get away with bursting out into fresh gales of laughter.
'Did you know they have doors on all the stalls in there? Plus actual toilet paper, and there's even soap an' hand towels. An' it doesn't smell like... like...'
'A urinal?' offered Spike.
'Imagine that,' said Spike, his voice laced with a false sincerity that bypassed Xander completely.
'Sitting down,' Xander murmured to himself, shaking his head as he reached for another sip of his drink. 'Wow.'
Spike watched several abortive attempts at straw ensnarement before speaking. 'Xander,' he began carefully, 'don't you think maybe it's time to go home? Not that I mind having a good old knees up,' he added quickly, 'it's just that I know that puking in the sanctity of your own bathroom is somewhat preferable to puking in public.'
Xander looked up and opened his mouth to speak. However, the combined effort of the two threw off his already shaky equilibrium, and he promptly fell off his stool.
'Are you okay?' Spike asked, glancing down but otherwise not moving.
'Fine,' was the immediate reply. 'I'm fine.'
'I do,' replied Xander in as haughty a manner as he could muster from his prone position on the floor. 'And jus' remember,' he added in a calculating tone, 'thatta closed mouth gathers no feet.'
Spike thought this over, and wisely opted for cool compassion. 'Right you are,' he said, patting the stool beside him until Xander struggled to his feet and sat back down. 'Tough break.'
'Shut up,' said Xander glumly.
'You know, it's funny,' commented Spike, managing to keep a straight face. 'No matter how smart you think you are, you spend so much of your day being an idiot.' He then deftly caught the straw from Xander's drink between his lips and took a long swallow, as though it was the easiest thing in the world.
Xander looked woozily into the glass when Spike had finished. 'I think someone jus' spiked my drink,' he said solemnly.
Very slowly, Spike turned to look at him. 'Are you trying to be funny?'
'Maybe.' Xander closed one eye to stop the room spinning. 'Issit working?'
Xander pouted. 'Oh.' Bottom lip firmly stuck out, Xander looked up in time to see Spike hastily trying to hide his wide, honest grin behind his glass. The proffered bottom lip wavered a little. 'I am funny.'
'I am too.'
'All right, luv. You got me. You're a laugh a minute.'
Satisfied, a cheesy grin appeared on Xander's face. The effect was marred a little when he frowned, wondering why he couldn't find his drink. Then he remembered to open his other eye again, and the drink magically rematerialised on the bar in front of him.
Knowing it was probably -- scratch that -- definitely a bad idea, Spike ordered a double bourbon, another one of the pink froo froo drinks for Xander, and, after only a moment's hesitation, one for himself.
If they were going down, they were going down together, and Spike was playing catch up.
A few hours later, Spike finished the long trek across town with his dipsomaniac Xander-bundle and pushed him bodily through the front door of the apartment, depositing him none-too-gently on the couch.
'You know,' slurred Xander conversationally, waving one meandering finger in the air, 'you're adorkable.'
'Don't you mean adorable?'
'Nope,' said Xander, attempting to hold the finger steady to make his point. 'I says what I means and I means what I says I means.'
'Well aren't you the cute one,' Spike replied over his shoulder, on his way to the kitchen to fix a strong black coffee for Xander and a strong Irish coffee for himself. After all, the night was still young and he did have a different physiom... physigno... He was put together different.
When he got back to the living room, he was greeted with the sight of a very white Xander, clinging on to the wall for dear life.
'Where are you going?
'Bathroom,' was the abrupt reply.
Spike set the twin mugs on the sideboard, sloshing hot coffee over the side in the process. 'Can you make it by yourself?'
'Yep,' said Xander as he slid down the wall into a puddle at Spike's feet.
'Come on,' Spike said understandingly. 'Up we go.' He hooked his hands under Xander's arms, hoisted him to unsteady feet and guided him to the bathroom.
'Thanks,' said Xander, who was now looking decidedly green.
'No problem, luv.'
'Don't call me... Ah, forget it. I'll jus' be in here.' Xander swayed rather alarmingly. 'Kissing the toilet.'
Spike nodded sympathetically. 'You know you're drunk when your lips touch the seat and you jus' don't care.'
His cheeks suddenly bulging, Xander fell in through the door of the bathroom. Grimacing at the wretched retching sounds coming from the bathroom, Spike retired to the living room, picking up his whiskey-laced coffee on the way.
A sheepish, and notably more sober Xander reappeared sometime later, his face flushed, his long hair damp and pushed back from his face.
'Feeling better?' Spike inquired without looking up from the magazine he was flicking through.
Xander nodded and swallowed heavily. 'My day is complete. I just threw up and it was pink.'
Xander awoke the next morning with a fat, grumpy cat draped across his chest, impatiently kneading its claws in the soft cotton of his bra -- Bra!!!?? Why am I wearing a-- Oh. Yeah. The girl thing. Woo. Hoo. -- and a dead sock in his mouth.
He closed his eyes, counted to ten, and opened them again.
There was still a cat draped across his chest, but on closer inspection the dead sock turned out simply to be his tongue. Carefully manipulating the dead sock, he let out an impressive groan.
'What on earth did I do last night?'
'Not me, that's for certain,' came a muffled reply from somewhere to his left.
'That's a first,' Xander muttered, mainly to himself, and reached blindly for the aspirin he knew was hiding somewhere in the cluttered bedside drawer. Shaking out three, he dry swallowed them. Gently dislodging Angel, who mewed softly in protest, he then got out of bed and tottered to the bathroom, where he spent over an hour showering and repeatedly cleaning his teeth until the disgusting taste in his mouth was finally gone. He stared at the mirror, noting the pallor of skin and the tired, red eyes of the stranger's face staring back at him.
All things considered, he felt pretty crappy, but oddly, marginally better about things. Looked like he'd managed to effectively drown one or two of his sorrows after all. Exiting the bathroom, he went back to bed and crawled under the covers, wriggling up as close to Spike as was possible without actually burrowing inside the vampire's skin. The coolness of Spike's skin felt marvellous against his own clammy heat.
Spike smiled against the pillow and tightened his arm around the slender female form squirming pleasantly beside him. 'So we can stop fighting now you've got all that bitchiness out of your system?'
'So long as you stop making fun of me,' Xander said, only a little tetchily.
'Hey, I didn't make fun of you unless you were asking for it,' Spike insisted. 'I was right there for you when the girls were all still mooning over that coat guy. And didn't I stake that annoying vampire for you last night?'
Xander frowned. 'What annoying vampire?'
Spike tsked. 'Trust you not to remember my heroic deeds.'
'Oh, you mean the one that hit on me at the bar? Fried chicken dude?' The frown deepened. 'You staked him? Really? I don't remember that.'
'Had to protect my little woman, didn't I? Nobody hits on my boyfriend and lives to tell the tale.'
Xander couldn't help but smile, no matter how much he would have preferred a scowl. Boyfriend. 'That's... strangely romantic. In a possessive, misogynistic, bloodthirsty sort of a way. And I'm not your little woman.'
Spike nodded, rumpling the pillowcase. 'So we're in agreement. I'm a fantastic boyfriend. Probably the greatest ever. And I haven't been making any more fun of you than is to be reasonably expected.'
'Yeah,' Xander agreed grudgingly, 'I know. Just don't expect me to be all flowers and sunbeams until this goes away. All this, it's...' He sighed heavily. 'It's just not good for a man's masculinity.'
Spike lifted his head and opened his eyes just so he could roll them, but before Xander could gear up for another argument, he closed the distance between them and kissed Xander's pouting coral lips. 'How about you just try to be yourself, and don't take every comment to heart, huh? You can usually hold your own in an argument, so why get all snippy about things now?'
Xander was silent as he considered this. He didn't really think his mood swings were his fault. It was girl hormones. It had to be. The urge to be a complete bitch was just overwhelming at times, along with the always fun bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. He couldn't be held accountable for his actions. It was just too much to ask of a red-blooded male at a trying time like this.
That was his story and he was sticking to it.
'Plus, I'm not really looking for any sunbeams.'
Xander cocked his finger like a gun and mimed shooting Spike. 'Gotcha.'
'Yes. You do.'
Seeing the touched expression on Xander's face, Spike gave up on trying to reason with him. He took advantage of the momentary distraction and leant in to softly kiss the length of Xander's neck. He moved up, nibbling and licking as he went, intending to trace a path up to one ear, across a downy soft cheek and then see if he couldn't put those lips to a better use than the pouting and complaining they were being used for at the moment. No matter how nice they happened to look when Xander pouted. He'd got halfway across one cheek, when suddenly he sat bolt upright in bed, a thoroughly disgusted expression on his face, then shot across the room, disappearing into the bathroom. The sounds of running water and gargling could be heard coming from the open door.
'Spike?' Xander called. 'What's wrong?'
Spike appeared in the doorway of the bathroom, disgusted expression still firmly in place. 'What have you got on your face?'
Xander immediately blushed scarlet, and unconsciously pulled the covers up to his chest, unintentionally making Angel slither to the edge of the bed and drop over the side. 'Nothing.'
Spike folded his arms.
'What?' asked Xander in a squeaky voice, hastily shoving the covers back down around his waist when he realised what he was doing.
Spike tapped his foot.
'It's... avocado moisturiser,' Xander admitted in a shameful whisper. 'It was in the bag Willow left me.'
'Ah ha,' said Spike thoughtfully. 'What else was in the bag?'
'Well... the clothes.'
Spike's eyes sparkled, but his face remained impassive. 'And?'
Spike narrowed his gaze. 'Elaborate.'
Xander shifted uncomfortably. 'Well, there was the moisturiser.'
'Tinted lip gloss.'
Xander's eyes dropped to the bedspread. 'Eyffmmpt.'
'Didn't quite catch that, pet.'
Xander gritted his teeth and didn't quite meet Spike's eye. 'Eyeliner.'
'Eyeliner. Why? You want to borrow it?'
Spike raised a supercilious eyebrow. 'I might just at that.'
Xander declined to comment.
'No,' Xander said, a little too quickly.
'No, well, uh, yeah. Just other, uh, girl's things.'
'Like things for...' Xander's cheeks turned an interesting shade of dark pink. 'For periods. And stuff.'
'Oh, right.' Spike fought to keep the smile from his face. 'Forgot you'd be getting your monthlies at some point.'
'We don't know that!' Xander snapped, clenching his fists tighter on the sheets. 'I might only be a girl on the outside! Willow probably only put them in for emergencies. Y'know... just in case.'
'Well, don't worry. I'm sure it won't come to that.'
'You better hope it doesn't,' grumbled Xander. 'If I'm this moody now, just imagine what I'll be like if I get PMS.'
'You raise a valid point,' said Spike, frowning, and suddenly thinking that this whole girl thing might not be such a good idea after all. 'You, ah, you want to do me a favour?'
Spike pulled a face. 'Lay off the moisturiser, pet. It tastes like... like...'
Spike snapped his fingers. 'That's the one.'
Xander nodded bashfully. 'Shouldn't be too much of a problem.'
Spike returned to the bed and Xander welcomed him back with open arms. They lay in the quiet morning time, happy doing nothing except being with one another, Xander unconsciously petting Angel's fur.
'Something... something's not right.'
'What is it?' Spike sat up, suddenly concerned. 'What's wrong?'
'I'm not sure. It's just...' Xander scrunched up his face in thought. 'It's like I need... I need...'
'What is it, luv? What do you need? What can I do?'
'Chocolate,' said Xander decisively. 'I have to have some chocolate.'
Spike sighed. 'You always have to have chocolate. But, really, for breakfast?'
'No. No, this is different. I mean I need some chocolate. It's weird. It's like...' Xander licked his lips, trying to give his sudden, mighty craving a name. 'It's like... I'd do anything for chocolate.'
Spike watched the lip licking with interest. 'Anything?'
Xander nodded. 'Anything.'
'Even...' Spike leaned in close and whispered in his ear.
Xander's eyes widened. 'Throw--' He paused to clear his throat. 'Throw in some chocolate to that scenario and you've got yourself a deal.'
Bolting from the bed, Spike scampered -- Xander rubbed his eyes and looked again. Yep. That was definitely a scamper. Interesting. He didn't know that Spike could pull off a scamper -- to the kitchen and swiftly reappeared with a jumbo-sized chocolate bar that Xander was certain Spike must have been hiding somewhere especially inventive, because he had certainly never seen it before.
'Who's a good vampire?' Xander grinned, holding out his hands.
Spike mirrored the grin and broke off a tiny corner of the chocolate, handing it over to greedy hands. He held the rest of the bar out of reach, resisting the puppy dog eyes he was being given. He gave the chocolate a few seconds to melt and bent down for a kiss, tasting the sweet tang of the chocolate, and the even sweeter tang of lust. 'Just you wait and see how good I am,' he whispered breathlessly. 'Just you wait and see.'
On the floor beside the bed, Flick-knife paced the ground, mwarohing deep in his throat. It was obvious that a lot of movement was taking place up on the oversize basket, but whatever it was it sounded even more rambunctious than usual and Flick-knife had no immediate pressing desire to see. Laughter and snippets of the usual garbled people-miaowing filtered down to him, making his ears twitch. He waited impatiently for whatever it was that they were wasting their time on to be over, so that they could get back to more pressing matters, such as cat petting. Or at the very least putting on one of their always amusing displays of ranting and raging when he reduced something important to tatters.
The sounds went on. And on.
Giving up on the morning as a loss, Flick-knife remembered the stray sock that had been left behind after the last laundry session and sauntered away with regal disdain, his mind full of thoughts of shredding.
Angel, on the other hand, stayed in the bedroom. He perched in the middle of the floor, looking and feeling miserable and letting out the occasional pitiful miaow. He was starving. Did no one care? Would no one cast a friendly eye his way and go to open the wooden cave in the kitchen that tantalisingly held all the containers of his food? Were they really that heartless? He'd do it himself -- easy enough to leap up onto a counter and pry the cave door open with a clever paw -- but hard-earned experience had taught him that opening the containers themselves was, unfortunately, never to be part of his repertoire of skills. Damn his lack of opposable thumbs! And while the huge, cold, white cave was a continuous temptation, the door was practically impossible to open and his two owners were always furious if he even attempted to partake of the delicacies contained within. No, this was his best course of action.
Didn't usually take this long, though.
Eventually the continuous mewing drew Xander's attention away from his blond lover. That would be the blond lover with the remarkable recovery time, not to mention the talented hands, rock-hard body and tongue that knew enough tricks to make Xander swear like a sailor.
Peering over the edge of the mattress, Xander suddenly felt very selfish when he saw Angel sitting forlornly, looking even more pathetic than Xander was feeling. Correction: had felt. It was rather hard to continue to feel sorry for himself when Spike seemed determined to show him just how much fun this body could be.
Temporarily, of course.
Spike joined him in peering out at Angel. 'Don't tell me that cat wants fed again.'
'I'm worried about him, Spike. He's been off colour for a while now. Haven't you noticed how much he's been fretting? And he just won't stop eating. Maybe we should take him to the vet.'
Spike tilted his head and narrowed his eyes at the cat. 'Maybe we should make the tubby bastard get a bit of exercise. That would sort him right out.'
Xander elbowed him. 'Don't be mean. I think I'm going to call the vet. See if I can't get an appointment. You want to come? I could see if they stay open past sunset.'
'Nah. If you think it's that important just take the first one you can get. Call Buffy or Willow if you like. See if they'll go with.'
Xander got out of bed, dutifully fed the pathetically grateful Angel, and placed a call to the vet, obtaining an appointment for that very afternoon. Deciding to extend the olive branch, he called Willow and asked her if she'd like to go with him. Willow's display of pathetic gratefulness outshone Angel's by miles.
Xander then took another brief shower and set about finding himself something to wear. The only things still clean in his sparse female wardrobe were several items of underwear, a skirt, two sweaters and a pair of tights. What was Willow thinking, giving him a skirt to wear? He'd never even worn a kilt. He hesitated over the tights for a long time, eyeing them as though they'd insulted his mother in a previous incarnation, but eventually figured that if he was going to embrace his womanhood, then he might as well go the whole hog.
'Come on, luv!' called Spike from the living room. He had managed to shower, dress and watch almost an entire episode of Diagnosis Murder in the time it had taken Xander to choose what to wear. 'You're slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through peanut butter!'
'I'm coming, I'm coming. Some of these snaps and the hook thingies are really tricky! I was only ever good at taking bras off, not putting them on.' Xander appeared in the doorway, wrestling the twisted sleeve of his borrowed sweater into place. 'And don't call me "love"!' he added as an afterthought, looking up just in time to see the unlit cigarette fall from Spike's open mouth.
'What? What is it? Do I look stupid?' Xander tried to look down at his own body, pushing his boobs out of the way to try and get a better look. 'I knew I shouldn't have worn a skirt, it's not like I wanted to, but I kind of puked on my last clean pair of girl pants yesterday.' He sighed deeply. 'Maybe I should just go change anyw-- mmph!'
He was cut off when Spike suddenly pinned him to the nearest wall and kissed him.
Buffy and Willow were approaching the main door of Xander's apartment building, brightly lit by the early afternoon sun. Buffy had to slow her pace to keep up with Willow's dragging footsteps.
'Willow, it'll be fine. You know it will. Why else would he have called you?'
'To make me suffer some more?'
Buffy rolled her eyes. 'Don't be a goose. And besides, I'm here for the moral support.'
Willow slowed to a complete halt. 'But you didn't see him. He was so pissed at me. The last time I was here he wouldn't even look me in the eye.'
'Willow, you turned him into a girl.' Buffy paused just to let that pertinent snippet of information sink in. 'One might even say you were getting off lightly.' They reached the main door and entered, heading towards the elevator. 'Besides, you should always remember that a kick in the pants is nothing but a step forward.'
'Right.' Willow nodded with renewed determination. 'Right. I can do this. It's Xander. He knows it was a mistake. He knows I love him. Okay. I can do this.'
They waited patiently for the elevator to arrive.
Willow sighed. 'I hope he doesn't cry again.'
'You... you have to stop.' Xander wrapped his arms around Spike to pull him even closer. 'They'll be here soon.'
'But you look so good. I can't get enough of you.'
'What can I say? I scrub up well. Not often, but well.'
Considering it was the middle of the day and his friends were due to arrive any minute, Xander was feeling justifiably debauched. His skirt was pushed up around his waist. Spike's hands were buried underneath the sweater, cold against expanses of hot, willing flesh.
And yet... Above blond hair, Xander noticed the clock on the opposite wall. Willow should have been here five minutes ago.
'Gah!' With heroic effort, he managed to push Spike off, and tugged the twisted skirt back down. Spike grinned, sensing a challenge, and advanced. 'Spike! Don't you dare! The girls are going to be here any minute.'
'So? We can fit a quickie in before they get here.'
'Ha!' exclaimed Xander, dashing behind the nearest armchair and keeping it between himself and his horny vampire. 'There's no such thing as a quickie with you.'
'Aren't you the lucky one.' It was a statement. Definitely not a question.
'Besides, I'm not ready for...' Xander made several suggestive nodding motions. 'Y'know.'
Spike gave him a close-lipped grin. 'Whassa matter? Now that you're a girl you can't call it sex any more?' Xander blushed. 'What about shagging?' asked Spike, getting closer. 'Screwing? Rumpy-pumpy? How about the beast with two backs?' Closer still. 'Or how about a good old-fashioned, long... hard... fu--'
'Take a hike, Overbite Boy!' Xander swung the chair around, blocking Spike's path. 'Don't you do it.'
'Yeah?' Spike's predatory grin widened. 'What're you going to do to stop me?' He scented the air, looking momentarily dazed. He shook it off with a wild toss of his head, never taking his eyes off Xander. Again he was the hunter. 'I know you want me.'
'Of course I do, you idiot, that's not the point. And I can stop you if I want. After all,' Xander deftly shoved the chair at Spike and leapt away to run and hide in the kitchen, 'I know Kung-fu.'
'Oh really?' asked Spike, casually tossing the chair to one side as though it didn't weigh a thing. He stalked towards Xander who was trying his best to melt into one of the walls in the kitchen.
'You betcha. I know Kung-Fu, Karate, and forty-seven other dangerous words.'
'Huh.' Spike was unimpressed. 'I am a dangerous word.'
Xander swallowed heavily. He'd never been able to resist Spike when he used the vampire voice. The powerful, knowing, commanding voice-of-steel that made Xander's sense of reason leap out the nearest window to leave him and his good friend overwhelming lust to fend for themselves.
Spike was close enough for Xander to feel cold puffs of breath against his bare throat. And damn if that didn't make him even hornier. Xander could actually feel his nipples harden, and that got him thinking about boobs. Which got him thinking about naked girls. Which got him thinking about sex. Which led him directly back to Spike. Which pretty much meant running round in ever-decreasing circles between sex and Spike. Spike and sex. There was something so incredibly sexy about the way that Spike breathed. Especially when he was breathing heavily. Especially when it was something that Xander had done to make him breathe heavily.
'Spike,' Xander groaned softly, unable to bear the light, breathy caresses a moment longer.
'What?' was the whispered reply.
'I do?' Interested tilt of his head, bringing him within kissing distance.
Xander nodded unevenly.
'What do I win?'
'Spike,' Xander said in a hitching voice as he fisted the front of Spike's shirt. 'Bastard. Such a bastard. Touch me.'
A lascivious grin of victory graced Spike's features. He leant forward to comply when--
Spike growled, sending shivers over Xander's already sensitive skin. 'Now? They have to arrive now?'
Xander glanced at the clock again and shot Spike an apologetic smile. 'Saved by the bell?'
Belatedly hoping that he didn't have smoochie hair, Xander attempted to straighten his clothes on the way to the door. He opened it, and was about to greet his friends, just as Flick-knife bounded across the floor and leapt through the air, claws extended. As it had turned out, shredding a meagre sock hadn't come close to fulfilling the cat's daily carnage quota. To his eternal shame, Xander screamed like a girl when he saw the attacking ball of fuzz headed his way at high speed. Buffy and Spike both dived, attempting an intervention, but were too late, despite their lightning reflexes. Xander wasn't surprised. It usually took forces far greater than the evil undead or the Chosen One to deter Flick-knife once the cat had put his mind to destroying something. It was just rather inconvenient, by Xander's reckoning, that the something in question this time appeared to be his tights, and by default, his shins.
'Off. Off. Off! Get. Off. Get off. Get. Off!'
He hopped around the room, trying to shake Flick-knife loose with additional help from the power of his mind, assuming correctly that any attempt to grab the cat and physically pull him off would only result in a limpet-like grip that neither threats, nor treats, nor a nuclear explosion could relax.
Willow dashed forward as Xander began to turn the air blue with curses, waited for her moment, and daintily touched one finger to Flick-knife's back. There was a sound like a crack of static electricity. The cat immediately let go and sat dazed on the floor, staring up at them with dopey, crystal blue eyes. If Spike had to give his expression a name, he would have said that Flick-knife looked happy. Blissfully happy. No, more than that, it was almost as if...
'Willow,' Spike said slowly, 'did you just get my cat stoned?'
Willow raised her shoulders slowly, giving a tight, hopeful little smile. 'Maybe.'
'It'll wear off in an hour or two, no side effects. Guaranteed. He's just very, very--'
'I see.' They all watched Flick-knife a while longer. He was currently lying on his back, curled into a "C" shape, with his tail trapped between his paws, staring at it as though it contained the secrets of the universe, and occasionally giving it a casual lick. 'Any chance you could make it permanent?' asked Spike, half-seriously. Owning a self-centred, vicious little fur-ball was well and good, but sometimes even a vampire liked his socks with no holes torn in them. Not to mention his scalp, or his boyfriend's shins.
Willow looked at Xander and was delighted to find him returning her smile. It was faint smile, granted, what with his immediate, pressing pain in the shin and calves area, but a smile nevertheless.
'Thanks,' he said.
'You're welcome. More than. Any time. Day or night. You just call. I'll come a-runnin'. Whenever you need me, I'll be th--'
'Since when is it your cat?' interrupted Buffy. 'And why are you here again?'
Spike gave her that extra-special glare that he always kept handy just for her benefit. 'I'm here because I like it here. My cat is here, there's always beer in the fridge and Xander has more cable stations than me. And as for Flick-knife... He's my cat. He's always been my cat. Xander's just been keepin' an eye on him for me, that's all.'
Buffy looked highly suspicious. 'You have a cat. And Xander lets him stay here.' Her voice practically dripped with scepticism.
'Yeees,' glowered Spike, adopting his "you're brain-dead and I'm only humouring you until I grow weary of you" voice. 'My crypt is in a graveyard, as crypts tend to be. There's a lot of nasties in graveyards that wouldn't think twice about scoffing little kitty-cats as a pre-murderous rampage snack. An appetiser, if you will.'
'And yet again I'm adopting the only word that springs to mind to sum you up,' countered Buffy. With eyes wide, she slowly and pointedly uttered a long-syllabled 'Ewwwwww.'
Spike looked quite pleased with himself.
'This is entertaining as always,' said Xander, hobbling between the two, but if you don't mind, I just have to go change my tights.'
'Xander!' Willow clapped her hands together with glee. 'I didn't even realise! You wore the tights! You know, you have fabulous legs. You should show them off more.'
'Really?' Xander glanced downwards, pointing one toe and turning his leg his way and that. 'I do? I couldn't tell. They look sort of dumpy from up here.'
'Dumpy?' came three incredulous voices. The body attached to the most British of these voices suddenly realised its mistake and disappeared into the kitchen to track down the well-used first aid kit.
'Dumpy?' repeated Willow and Buffy in amazement.
'Are you insane?' asked Buffy. 'Xander, I'd kill for your thighs, and I'm the Slayer. Slaying may suck in many, many ways, but it burns a hell of a lot of calories and is great for the muscle tone.'
Xander couldn't help giving Buffy a quick look up and down. She was right: great muscle tone. He frowned. 'My thighs are that good? Really?'
'You bet your sweet ass they are,' Buffy grinned.
Xander blushed. 'Bet my what?' He waggled a finger back and forth between his friends. 'Exactly which one of you is the lesbian again?'
'Don't tell me you're getting in on the lesbian action now,' said Spike, reappearing with the first aid kit. Without waiting for a reply, he took Xander's elbow and ushered him to the bedroom, closing the door firmly behind them.
Buffy and Willow grinned at one another. Then the grins faded as a thought occurred to them simultaneously. They stared at one another, confused, and as one they said: 'Shouldn't one of us be doing that?'
Spike stood in the centre of the bedroom inspecting Xander's shredded tights. 'Looks good on you. We could make a punk of you yet.'
Xander rolled his eyes as he let himself be guided back towards the bed. 'Sure thing. The day hell freezes over? Get back to me, we'll talk.'
Xander drew in a breath as Spike wordlessly dropped to his knees in front of him. He held on to the bedpost and let Spike reach slowly under his skirt to grasp the elastic top of the tights and peel them over his hips. Suppressing a shudder, Xander sat on the bed as the inch-by-inch removal of his tights continued. Expecting Spike to get antiseptic cream from the first aid kit, Xander jumped in surprise as Spike slid one hand up his calve to gently cup behind his knee, while the other supported his heel. A cool tongue traced moist pathways over the scratches on his legs, tickling and easing the faint burning sensation.
'Mmm.' Xander opened his eyes and realised that he had been letting his head loll back, losing all sense of time.
'Did you shave your legs? They're very smooth.' Spike's voice was deep and for once there was no trace of mocking, only simple interest.
Xander shook his head. 'No. No... I, uh, that just happened. When the girl thing happened.' He shrugged lightly, a little embarrassed, but not as embarrassed as he felt perhaps that he should have been when discussing his bodily hair, or lack thereof, with his undead, currently un-gay lover. Perhaps it had something to do with the way that Spike reverently lowered the first leg so that it rested against the side of the mattress and continued his impromptu tongue-bath of the second. 'Don't know why. I still have a little hair under my arms. It's faint an' all, but, ah, still there.'
Spike nodded absently, looking up as his pink tongue trailed the curve of Xander's kneecap. 'I guess you're lucky. You got the gorgeous equivalent of yourself. The same, just feminine.' Again, no trace of mocking, just observation. 'She could have turned you into an ogre.'
Xander's smile was tainted with only a pinch of fear.
Spike nodded, the motion pressing his tongue in waves against Xander's skin. 'Or a troll maybe. They make ugly women.' With a final lick, he set Xander's leg down and fished out three plasters for the largest scratches and began carefully sticking them on. 'You're just you.' He pressed down the final plaster. 'Beautiful. No matter what.'
Spike fetched another pair of tights and eased them over Xander's toes, working them up his legs with expert hands. Xander found himself wondering how many times Spike had done this for Drusilla with stockings and many, much more elaborate items of clothing, and experienced a not insubstantial surge of jealousy. He didn't want Spike to have touched another living soul -- or any other supernatural variation thereof -- before him. Was that too much to ask?
New tights in place, Xander stood and offered Spike his hands, helping him up, even though he knew that Spike's catlike grace needed no assistance. They stood, looking into one another's eyes. 'You're beautiful to me, too,' Xander admitted. He couldn't believe it when Spike actually smiled coyly.
'Are we going to have to start singing now?'
Xander grinned. 'Dork. I'll settle for poetry and roses.'
'Oh. Okay. The roses'll have to wait, but lemme see...' Spike cleared his throat and began to quote in the style of "Pop Goes the Weasel": 'There was a young man from Sunnydale, whose friend gave him a sex change. He--UMPH!'
Xander clamped his hand over Spike's mouth. 'You're very funny, has anyone ever told you that?'
Spike nodded, his eyes sparkling with humour.
Xander kissed the tip of his nose. 'And you're very cute.'
Spike nodded again.
'And we have to get out of here this very second or the girls will think we've fallen out the window.'
Spike nodded a third time.
Xander removed his hand. 'Thanks for fixing my legs.'
'Welcome.' Spike bobbed his head, and then his expression hardened. 'You know, I really am gonna make a rug out of that cat.'
Xander considered this for a moment. 'Hmm. Fair enough. But how about a nice belt? Or maybe a handbag? Perhaps a fur choker?'
He wandered out of the room, leaving a bemused Spike to follow behind.
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