Xander knows this block. It’s the third block of five between his house and the convenience store. He knows the whole path like the back of his hand. Or like something he knows better than the back of his hand.
Like the ceiling above his bed—off-white and bumpy with a thin crack stemming from the light fixture and winding its way to the corner. He watches that crack when his dad is yelling and he wonders, sometimes wishes that the whole thing would come crashing down on top of him.
Like the floor of the boys locker room—cool, smooth cement, gray with lighter and darker splotches and cracks of its own. He stares at those cracks as the jocks pass by—laughing and muttering “fag” loud enough to echo—and wishes they would open up and swallow him, wonders if the jocks are right.
Like the sound of his mother’s voice—rising above the television, traveling down the hall and through his bedroom door—telling him to go down the street for more beer or cigarettes or both.
He knows the path like the back of his hand. He’s been walking it at least three nights a week for the last four years—since he was twelve.
They know him at the store. They know the stuff isn’t for him. They know his parents. They appreciate such faithful customers. They don’t look Xander in the eye.
He knows this block. The shops have been abandoned for as long as he can remember, but the block never has. Used to be women in tight tops and shorts skirts and high heels, with bottle-dyed hair and thick red lipstick and foundation filling the cracks in their faces. A few months ago, it changed.
Now it’s girls who don’t need makeup to look young, so heroin chic that a strong breeze might blow them away.
Boys prettier than the girls, with pouty lips and long eyelashes framed in dark eyeliner. Boys with piercings in ears, eyebrows and tongues. Skinny boys in tight tee shirts and ripped jeans, leather bands and silver chains, who don’t hesitate to call out their available services to potential customers—in detail.
They’ve made Xander offers once or twice—teasing offers way out of Xander’s price range—but usually they just ignore him as he passes by. Xander tries to keep his head down, tries not to stare, but there’s one boy who draws his gaze like a magnet. A boy in black with white-blond hair and pale pink lips, sculpted cheekbones and piercing blue eyes. A boy with poise and attitude. A boy they call Spike.
And seven minutes ago, Xander walked by that boy and stared from beneath his eyelashes and, just for a second, that boy looked back at him—tilted up one corner of his mouth in a small smile—and something squeezed inside Xander’s chest until he couldn’t breathe, could barely walk. And that tightness in his chest spread, creeping outward until he stood at the glass door of the minimart looking in without seeing, and every inch of his body was consumed by the wondering, by the need—the physical, tangible need—to know.
And Xander didn’t go in, reached into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out the twenty his mother had given him and clutched it in his fist as he turned away from the door and walked back. Back to this block.
And he’s still there—twenty-five feet away—leaning against a wall by a doorway, half his face and chest lit by the yellow glow of a streetlight, the orange-red tip of a cigarette moving from lips to hip and back again, Xander’s eyes tracking without fail.
Twenty feet now. Fifteen. Ten. Five.
Xander opens his fist and Spike glances down, takes another drag off the cigarette, blows the smoke past Xander’s face.
“Twenty barely buys you a look, pet.”
The voice. The accent. He’s never heard it before. It sends shivers through his body. His own voice shakes.
“It’s all… I just… Please.”
Spike says nothing and Xander would turn and run and run if he could but he can’t—can’t seem to move.
“Ah, come on, Spike. Give the kid a break.” Xander turns his head to the left. A tough-looking brunette in leather pants is smiling at him. “What’s your name, kid?”
“Faith is right, Spike,” says a petite blond in a halter top coming up on Xander’s right. “Twenty should at least be good for a kiss. Don’t you think, Wills?”
Xander jumps as he feels fingers sliding up under his shirt and a warm body press in from behind. The voice passes over his shoulder, steamy breath tickling his ear. “Definitely good for some smoochies. Two minutes, I’d say.”
Spike seems to realize he’s outnumbered and surrounded. He takes one last drag of his cigarette, then flicks it away. “C’mon then, Xander,” he says.
And Xander thinks it would have been worth the twenty just to hear Spike say his name, but Spike has hold of his shirt now and is pulling him away from the last girl and into the doorway.
“Start the clock,” is all the warning Xander gets and then those perfect lips are covering his. And they’re as soft as he imagined—and firm. And insistent and gentle and every contradiction that makes a thing impossibly good. Heavenly.
And then there’s a tongue—hot and slick—teasing its way inside. Tracing his teeth and tangling with his own tounge—taking and taunting and teaching and…
But Spike pulls back slowly, inching away with tiny nips, and Xander knows this was the worst idea ever because he’s sure now that he’s gay—very, very gay—but he’s also sure he’s been ruined for every other boy.
He doesn’t care.
He can hear the girls giggling and realizes they’ve been watching the whole time.
He doesn’t care.
And he knows there’ll be hell to pay when he gets home without beer, without cigarettes, and without the twenty-dollar bill, but he reaches down and slides that bill into Spike’s back pocket anyway.
He doesn’t care.
The car slows to a stop and the driver smiles as he hands Spike several folded bills. It’s a nice smile accompanied by a charming crinkling of the older man’s eyes, and though Spike reciprocates with his signature grin, this time it’s sincere.
Rupert is a good man and Spike never takes a good regular for granted. The more Ruperts, the fewer rough and nameless assholes who treat you like… well, like a whore.
And maybe it’s what he deserves, what he is, but sometimes it’s nice to feel more like… well, more.
Spike slides out the passenger door, blows Rupert a kiss before shutting it behind him, then turns to wink at the gang, fanning himself with the cash that they all know is several times the market value of the blow jobs Rupert enjoys.
Jealous smiles all around—because everyone knows the value of a good regular—except from the kid, who’s sitting on the curb between Red and Buffy. The kid’s smile is a little more… starstruck and Spike doesn’t say hi, just turns and heads down the street for some smokes.
Spike isn’t surprised to see the kid. The kid’s been coming around for weeks. The kid never talks to Spike, so Spike never talks to the kid. He’d just assume the kid wasn’t much of a talker, except that the kid talks to the girls non-stop. Mostly to Red, who’s got quite a mouth on her herself when she finds the right audience. The two can babble away at each other for hours. The kid’s actually got a sharp sense of humor… for a kid.
Red doesn’t do much business anymore—she’s preggers and it’s starting to show—but she sticks around and they all make sure that she eats like a good mother should. Spike is glad that the kid keeps her entertained.
The kid never talks to Spike but he never stops staring at Spike, either, and his eyes say all sorts of crazy things. Stupid things like “you’re beautiful” and “you’re perfect” and “it’s a pleasure and a privilege just to sit here and breathe your leftover air.” Stupid because he’s dirty and flawed and a hustler, for fuck’s sake, which is just a nicer word for whore, and it’s as honest a living as any, but it’s not the kind of thing kids should want to be when they grow up.
And besides, Spike’s too young to be looked up to. Maybe two years older than the kid—though you look into his eyes then look into the kid’s and the difference feels like decades.
Still, the truth is that Spike’s barely legal, not that his clients care—the younger looking the better as long as he’s got a convincing ID to show the cops to keep them out of the real trouble. The truth is that Spike’s no angel, no role model, no one who deserves the way the kid looks at him.
Spike’s back on the block now, leaning against the wall, packing his fresh smokes against the heel of his hand and taking advantage of a rare moment when the kid isn’t watching him to watch the kid. The kid is bending over to place his ear against Red’s stomach and they’re both giggling and trying to shush each other.
“Shhh, I can’t hear anything,” the kid says. “He’s probably hiding in there. Smart boy.”
Spike pulls the cellophane off and drops it to the ground.
“How do you know he’s a boy?” Red asks. “Maybe she’s a smart girl.”
“Yeah.” The kid sits up and runs his hand over Red’s stomach. “Like her mother.”
Spike rips the foil and pulls out a cigarette.
Red snuggles into the kid’s shoulder. “I love you, Xan. Will you marry me?”
“I don’t have a job,” the kid says. “And I think I’m kinda gay.”
Spike lights up and takes a long first drag.
“Have you ever kissed a girl before?” Red asks. The kid shakes his head. “How do you know, then?”
Spike watches as Red pulls the kid’s head down and covers his lips with hers. Spike smokes half his cigarette in the time the kiss goes on.
Finally, Red draws away. “See? That wasn’t so bad.”
“I guess not,” the kid says, rubbing Red’s stomach again. “Maybe I could get used to it.”
Spike snorts and drops his half-smoked cigarette to the ground. Three long strides and he’s at the curb, reaching down to pull the kid to his feet. Right hand in the kid’s hair to hold him in place. Left hand in the kid’s crotch for good measure. The kid has improved since their last kiss. Either he’s been practicing or he’s a quick study.
With a nip to the kid’s lower lip and one last squeeze of the left hand, Spike steps back.
“Gay or straight?” he asks.
“Gay,” the kids murmurs.
Spike shoots Red a look. “See?”
“What time is it?” Spike asks the gang. Someone asks every night, but no one ever expects an answer.
“Ten to four.”
Apparently, the kid has a watch.
“Block’s dead,” Spike declares. “Let’s get out of here.”
The gang stands and gathers—Faith, Buffy, Red, Oz, Angel. They start shuffling in the usual direction, toward the all-night diner over on Third. The kid stands where Spike left him.
Spike looks back over his shoulder. The kid’s never stayed this late. He wonders if it’s a weekend. But no, Rupert came tonight, which means it’s a Wednesday—a school night.
They’re at the end of the block now, about to turn the corner. Spike lights another cigarette.
“You coming?” he calls.
The kid grins and hurries to catch up.
The conversation is perfect chaos—more threads than there are people—and Xander gives up trying to follow, just lets it flow over him—the stories, the insults, the laughter.
The tabletop matches the conversation. The breakfast plates have been cleared, leaving a disordered jumble of balled up napkins, empty sugar and cream packets, half full water and coffee cups, dwindling packs of cigarettes and rapidly filling ash trays. Seven of them have crowded into a booth meant for four—three on each side, thighs pressed tight against each other and elbows bumping, with Angel on the end, straddling a backward chair.
Anne, their tiny, blond and stronger-than-she-looks waitress, swings by and leans around Angel to refill what’s empty and empty what’s full. They say she’s new, but she moves like she’s been doing this forever. Even in her banter, she’s economic, efficient, not letting it break her focus.
But when Angel’s fingers brush her arm as it draws back, she starts. Just a little. She straightens and glances down at Angel, who offers a shy half smile and hands her a rough sketch penned on a paper napkin. No programmed banter now, Anne just offers her own half smile before slipping the napkin in her pocket and hurrying away.
“The big slut hates having to pay for his coffee.” Spike’s voice is low next to Xander’s ear. “At least in cash.”
Xander giggles and Angel glares in their direction. Mostly in Spike’s direction.
“And notice how much she looks like Buffy,” Spike points out in a stage whisper.
“Relax, Peaches. I’m sure little Annie’s drenching her panties right now over your shy, broody and artistic charms.”
“You can’t afford to.”
Xander barely registers the exchange. He can still feel the wet warmth of Spike’s breath in his ear. He shifts slightly away from Willow on his one side, toward Spike on his other. Their thighs press tighter and their shoulders brush and Xander’s whole right side is tingling and his loose jeans don’t feel so loose anymore.
The chatter continues around him, but it’s all just happy noise. He hasn’t slept for almost twenty-four hours and he’s never felt more awake, more alive. Like all the doors are open. Like he can go anywhere, have anything, do anything. Even…
“What time you have to be at school?”
Xander snaps out of his trance and turns to stare at Spike. Spike doesn’t blink.
“You are in school, aren’t you?”
“Well, yeah, but—”
“What time does it start?”
Spike’s hand lifts Xander’s wrist and Xander’s feeling the tingling again, but Spike just reads Xander’s watch and sets the wrist down again.
“Better get going then. Can’t have you bein’ late, can we?”
“Leave the kid alone,” Faith says. “He ain’t gotta go if he don’t want to. School’s bullshit.”
Willow’s brow furrows into a stern look that must implant into mothers with the embryo. “It is not. Just because you don’t like it. You should go, Xander. I’d go back if I could.”
“Didn’t ask either of you,” Spike says. He slides out of the booth, effectively pushing Xander out ahead of him. He pulls a twenty out of his back pocket and throws it on the table. “See you tonight, boys and girls.”
Spike heads for the door and Xander pauses for a moment, looking back at the table.
“Stick it out, man.”
Xander almost doesn’t recognize the voice. He stares at Oz. Oz who never speaks, except…
“Stick it out. Beats this.”
And Xander stares for another second, but that appears to be it. Oz has spoken.
Xander turns and hurries out of the diner, jogging halfway down the block until he catches up, falls into step beside Spike.
“But I haven’t slept…”
Spike shrugs. “Your choice.”
“I haven’t showered…”
“I…” Xander stops walking. “I can’t. They… haven’t left for work yet.”
Spike doesn’t break his stride, veers right, crossing the empty street. “My place, then.”
Spike’s place. Xander jogs again to catch up. His heart pounds.
The building they enter isn’t too impressive. The naked brick is chipped and scarred and what paint remains on the trim looks like it would flake off in a strong rain.
The stairwell lives up to the exterior’s promise—half the light bulbs are out and one flickers, making it dark and creepy, in spite of the morning light struggling in through small, dirty windows. The stairs squeak beneath worn green carpet that smells of age and mildew. Xander tries not to breathe.
But Spike’s place is a surprise. Tiny, yet tidy. One room with a bathroom, a closet and a kitchenette in the corner. The walls are bare, but clean and white. Rugs in shades of blue hide most of the faded gold carpet and match the royal blue spread covering the bed, which is the only piece of furniture, save a small table, a two chairs and a nightstand.
If nothing else, the color scheme sets off Spike’s eyes. Xander smiles.
Spike shakes his head and runs a hand up his face and over the white-blond spikes of his hair. He points to a door. “Shower’s in there. Use whatever towel you want. And hurry up. I’m tired.”
And he looks it. Xander heads for the bathroom and vows to be fast.
He starts the water and strips, letting the clothes drop to the floor. He steps in under the spray and picks up the bar of soap, goes to run it over his arm, then stops—brings it to his nose and breathes deeply. Just a soap scent, nothing in particular, except that it’s Spike. Or almost Spike. A layer is missing and Xander reaches out for the shampoo bottle with his other hand. He pops open the cap and brings it in next to the soap, inhales again and, yes, that’s…
Spike! Xander nearly jumps out of his skin when the shower door opens and Spike steps in.
Xander’s first thought is: Shit, I shouldn’t have left my clothes lying on the floor.
Xander’s second thought is: Fuck, I’m smelling his bath products.
Spike just takes the soap from Xander’s hand and starts to lather up.
Leading to Xander’s third and most enduring thought, which centers on the naked thing. The naked Spike. The naked Spike in the shower. The naked Spike in the shower with him. Also naked.
Naked showering Spike hands the soap back to Xander and takes the shampoo, squeezes some into his hand, scrubs it through his hair and rinses off.
Naked showering Spike steps out of the shower, grabs a towel and leaves the bathroom.
Naked showering Spike does not leave Xander's mind as he jerks off under the water, watches his jizz wash slowly down the drain.
When he steps out of the bathroom, Spike is sprawled across the bed on his back—still naked, already asleep.
Xander stares and is very, very tired. He decides to lie down—just for a few minutes. Spike stirs as Xander settles in beside him and Xander holds his breath, expecting to be sent off to school.
But Spike only mumbles and rolls and throws an arm over Xander’s chest.
And Xander’s not moving for the world.
The latest installment is brought to you by kitane, who asked for more as a part of her charity request.
As a rule, Spike wakes up alone. He doesn’t do sleepovers and he does not spend the night with clients. Life on the streets isn’t like Pretty Woman. If someone wants you to stay, it isn’t the beginning of a great romance.
It’s a warning sign.
You take the money and run.
Or you just run. Your money’s not worth your life.
So when Spike wakes up not alone, his heart starts to pound. He lies perfectly still and cracks his eyes open just a little to get a glimpse of his surroundings.
When he sees his own apartment, he remembers the previous night and relaxes, rolls over to look at the other side of the bed—at the kid. The kid who is still asleep and taking more than his fair share of the covers. The kid who was supposed to go to school today. The kid he didn’t invite to stay and who he ought to wake and show the door.
But it’s almost two in the afternoon and if school isn’t already out, it will be soon. Plus, the kid looks even more innocent when he sleeps than he does when he’s awake, which really shouldn’t be possible because the kid looks pretty fucking innocent most of the damn time.
And he’s sleeping so soundly and Spike remembers how tired the kid always looks. Too tired for someone so young and innocent. The curtains are heavy and tightly drawn. The apartment is dark as night and Spike tries not to rock the mattress too much as he climbs out of bed and retrieves his cigarettes and lighter from the pocket of the jeans on the floor.
He slips into the jeans and lights a cigarette, sits in the chair by the window and watches the kid sleep.
That is, he keeps an eye on the kid.
Because you can’t be too careful.
He’s on his second cigarette and still keeping an eye on the kid when the kid stirs. The sheets slip from the kid’s torso as he stretches and yawns and Spike is a little surprised. He vaguely remembers showering with the kid early that morning, but he wasn’t really paying attention. Now he is and he sees what the kid’s been hiding beneath his bright and baggy kit, which sometimes passes for indie cool but usually just screams for the fashion police.
The kid has considerable natural assets, Spike now observes—from a professional perspective, of course.
The kids rubs his fists into his eyes, them opens both fists and eyes and looks around until his gaze falls on Spike. He starts and blinks, begins to stammer as he sits up and swings his feet over the edge of the bed.
“Oh shit, I didn’t mean… I mean, I was going to… But I was just… Um, I’ll just get out of your…”
“Can have some cereal if you want,” Spike hears himself saying, because he was just about to anyway.
He gets up and walks to the kitchenette, takes down a bowl, hears the kid’s bare feet padding up behind him and takes down another one. He gets out the shredded wheat and fills both bowls, grabs the milk from the fridge, pours it, pulls a couple of spoons from the drawer.
They eat standing up, leaning against the counter in silence—Spike in his jeans, the kid in his boxer shorts—not too close, but not far apart, their gazes lifting from their bowls every once in a while to skitter over each other and away again.
Spike takes the kid’s bowl when he’s finished and sets them both in the sink, runs some water in them. The kid turns away and wanders back toward the bed.
“Guess I missed school, huh?”
“I guess I should…”
“Parents’ll be missing you, I suppose.”
“Doubtful,” the kid mutters. “But I guess if I beat them home I can erase the message from the attendance office.”
The kid retrieves his clothes from the bathroom floor and pulls his pants on. He’s going for the shirt when Spike comes up behind him.
“Wait a minute,” Spike says, because he’s curious. He steps over to his dresser and pulls out a black tee shirt. “This is clean,” he says, though that has nothing to do with it.
The kid takes the shirt and pulls it over his head. It’s tight around the arms and across the chest. The kid steps back in front of the bathroom door to look in the mirror over the sink. Spike stands behind him and watches the kid stare at himself.
The kid looks a bit awed for a moment, then his eyes lift up to his head and he blushes, lowering his eyes to the floor as he puts a hand to his hair. “Do you have a comb or something?” the kid asks, with his all too familiar and all too self-depreciating grin.
“Forget it,” Spike says. “You don’t need it.” He steps up closer behind the kid, his chest brushing the kid’s back as he reaches for the little canister of wax sitting on the edge of the sink. He uncaps it and sticks a finger in, spreading the wax in his palm and onto his fingertips. He reaches up and runs his hands through the kid’s hair, turning bedhead into just-fucked.
The kid is staring at himself in the mirror again and his cheeks are flushed, but his eyes are bright and Spike smiles. The moment stretches.
“Better get yourself home, then,” Spike says at last, stepping back and pulling on a black tee shirt of his own.
They sit on opposite edges of the bed and pull on sneakers and Docs respectively. The kid finishes and gets up, walks to the door.
“Thanks,” he starts to say, turning back with his hand on the doorknob. But Spike is right there with his jacket and his keys in his hand.
The kid stares at him.
Spike shoves the kid out the door in front of him, then locks up behind them and starts down the hall. The kid hurries to catch up.
“It’s on my way,” Spike says.
Birthday fic for cordelianne
The beat of the bass borders on ridiculous—scratch that, crosses the border into ridiculous and commits several treaty violations there—but Xander only half notices as his steps fall into time with the thumpa-thumpa.
The walk through the campus parking lot used to be a walk of shame. A walk of no car and not even a skateboard since his dad ran it over in the driveway and called it Xander’s “own damn fault.” A walk of no friends since the McNally’s moved away and nothing to do and nowhere to go except home to an outdated Nintendo.
A walk of no life and no prospects and the knowing glances that aren’t even stares because no one at school can be bothered to spare him that much attention.
But now he’s got something the glances don’t know.
And even though they never bothered to ask, he doesn’t have to tell.
He still walks past his house. Creeps past in the bright light of day, but the shades are always closed against the sun, keeping the inside dim and dreary and making it safe to steal glances. He makes the crossing on tiptoe anyway, keeps the press of his footsteps beneath the low hum the passing cars and jumps with every bark of every dog because it’s a still a risk but one he can’t help taking.
The way you can’t keep your eyes off the wasp or bee buzzing in the corner on the other side of the room and you’re not even on its radar at the moment and you don’t even want to kill the thing exactly—it’d be good to leave each other alone—but you don’t leave the room even though you could. You know it’s better to stay close because you know it’s going to break its side of the deal and you’re not about to let it sneak up from behind.
You watch it and wait for it to twitch.
Every afternoon Xander stalks his house, waits for it to twitch. Glues his eyes from the moment it comes into sight all the way past, sliding away with wary over-the-shoulder glances until it’s well and truly out of eye-shot.
He walks past his house, but he doesn’t go in.
Not this early.
Not since his dad lost the third job this year.
He doesn’t notice the smell in the stairwell anymore, doesn’t really see the ugly green carpet or the bare, flickering bulbs. He sees the door, though, like it’s the only door in the hall and the knob is cool and solid beneath his hand. He doesn’t have to knock anymore, but he always does—a couple quick raps against the wood and he walks in without waiting for an answer.
“Quiet,” Spike says. He doesn’t look up.
Of course Xander knows better by now than to interrupt Spike during Passions, but Spike never takes any chances. Xander slides his backpack off his shoulder and lets it slip down his arm toward the floor, catching it at the last minute and easing it the final few inches to the ground, quiet.
He drops his jacket down on top of it and crosses the room. He sits next to Spike who’s sitting on the end of the bed because that’s the only comfortable place to watch the TV. Of course, comfortable may be the wrong word—because Xander’s heart never fails to race and his skin never fails to tingle and his stomach never fails to churn, like he ate the tuna surprise in the cafeteria again, only better—but it’s the natural place and Xander sits there because he can.
Spike still hasn’t looked at him and you’d think it’s because Xander’s been coming at the same time every day for weeks now, but Spike hardly looked at him the first day either.
Spike did answer the door that first day—it being locked and all—but he didn’t ask Xander what he was doing there or what made him think he could come. He didn’t ask Xander to come in or to sit down, either.
He didn’t ask Xander anything, just said, “Quiet, I’m watching my show,” and left the door open as he turned and went back to the bed.
Sort of a relief, since the babbling explanation brewing in Xander’s brain probably would’ve been embarrassing.
No questions, no explanations, just Passions and a cold soda at the commercial break.
The TV’s about the size of the microwave with scratchy sound and pieces of antenna sticking out every which way, but the picture’s not bad and a couple weeks ago a brand new Sega appeared from somewhere.
They play it together after the soap.
Sometimes Spike gets up between games and makes himself a sandwich. He offers one to Xander but Xander usually tells him he isn’t hungry. A soda or two is okay, but he doesn’t wanna be a mooch.
Sometimes after Spike sits down next to him with the sandwich, Xander’s stomach growls and makes a liar out of him and Spike takes another small bite and then sighs and says he can’t finish it, holds it out until Xander would be rude not to take it.
Xander tries not to swallow the whole thing in two bites.
He tries not to talk too much either. Even when the show isn’t on. He doesn’t want Spike to get tired of him.
But sometimes when he’s really into the game he forgets to be quiet. Sometimes when a few words slip out—a yeah! or a take that! tossed at the screen—others sneak out after them. Sometimes the dam breaks and one story leads to another and then he’s told Spike the entire history of his friendship with Jesse before he catches his mouth and snaps it shut.
But Spike never tells him to be quiet.
Except when they’re watching Passions.
|Feed the Author|
|Home||Categories||New Stories||Non Spander|