OK, I started writing fanfic. Spander buddy slashfic, to be precise.
If you are a fan of the TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" you'll probably know what
I'm talking about. And if not, then you probably won't want to read this - so move along!
Vampire Champion fighting on the side of good, taking time out for some hot gay vampire
loving is an acquired taste, and it's also NC-17. Anyone under 21 or who happens to be my Mother,
DO NOT READ! Anyone else, you have been warned.
Thursday Night Kitten Poker
Xander stared down into his beer, wondering for the thousandth time just how he always managed to screw up his life so completely. He'd tried to explain to Anya that he just wanted to take it slow, make sure to do it right this time, rebuild trust on both sides. But he'd wound up sounding like he'd wanted to go back to dating her because she wasn’t good enough to marry. Then he'd told her everything about the "vision of their future" he'd been shown. All of it, including the frying pan to the head. At that moment he knew he had fucked up beyond repair. They would never be a real couple again. He hadn't meant to, but he'd hurt her so badly she might not ever really trust anyone again.
He really didn’t want to finish drinking the beer he'd been staring at for the last half hour. Once it was gone, all that was left was the long lonely walk home to his far-too-empty apartment. Where's a decent vampire attack when you really need one? Anything to not have to face that God-awful silence just yet.
In true "just when it can’t get any worse, it does" fashion, Xander looked up just in time to see an undead smirk in leather looking him over with amusement. "And what's wrong with you, whelp? Someone ran over your dog?"
With careful precision, Xander moved aside his beer and started banging his head on the table.
After the initial shock wore off, Spike grabbed the back of his collar, hauling him upright. "What the buggering hell is wrong with you?"
"I'm totally fucked for life," Xander stated conversationally. "And you?"
Spike just stared at him like he'd grown a new head. Then he smelled Anya's cloying perfume on him, and it clicked. "You honestly thought she'd take you back? After you humiliated her in front of everyone she ever knew? Not bloody likely."
For a moment Xander looked furious, but then he deflated as the truth of Spike’s words sank in. "You’re right. Pretty damn stupid, huh?"
Spike pulled out the empty chair next to him and sprawled across it, rather surprised that the kid hadn't just decked him. He pulled out a cigarette and said a little more gently, "Look, you've busted things up pretty bad; stands to reason you’re not going to fix things overnight. She's hurt, and she’s going to need time, lots of time, and lots of constant groveling from you, I expect."
Xander stared into his beer again with a sigh."Nope, she and I will never patch it up, no matter how much groveling I do. The trust is gone. Hell, I'll be lucky to come out of this without getting 'toaded.' Did you know she's a Vengeance Demon again? Got her old job back."
"Makes sense," Spike replied. "Going back to what's comfortable, what she's used to. But she's changed now. She won't get the same thrill out of it as she used to. I doubt she'll stick with it for long." They both sat in silence for a moment, each thinking of happier times, now long past.
"So," Spike asked, breaking the silence, "Wanna go kill stuff? There's no better pick-me-up when you're down."
Xander finished off his dreaded beer and signaled the waitress for another round. "Nah, think I'll just have another round or two and then toddle off to my lonely little bachelor pad."
Spike looked him over speculatively. "Drinking alone in your state isn't going to do you any good. What you need is to be drinking with a bunch of rowdies – pick a few bar fights, smash a few heads together, do something criminally stupid. That'll get your mind off your troubles."
Xander scrutinized the enthusiasm and complete lack of mockage in Spike's face suspiciously. "Why the hell should you care?"
Instead of getting the defensive "I don't, so sod off!" Xander expected, Spike heaved a huge sigh, slouched even further and laid his head back. Then he stated in a voice bordering on petulant four-year-old, "I'm BORED. God. I am so. Bloody. Bored." His voice rose as he warmed to his subject. "No one wants to get hustled at pool anymore! People-watching just isn't the same when you can't corner them and eat them, or at least slap them around a bit! And killing things for the Slayer and her merry band of burkes hasn't exactly ingratiated me with the demon population round town. Thanks to you lot, the few places that I could count on for a bit of rough n' tumble have all banned me now! What bleedin' good is immortality when there's nothing fun to do around here?" His splayed legs betrayed his relaxed posture, jiggling up and down with pent-up energy. "Even Passions just isn't the same, now that Timmy's gone." He complained.
Spike craned his neck and opened one eye Xander's way. "I've got two hours to kill, minimum, before I can go cage drinks at Willy's and wait for the Thursday night poker game to start. Do you think that if you really concentrate, you can stop moping about long enough to lose a game or two of pool?"
Now it was Xander who looked at Spike like he'd grown another head. Just as he was working up something suitably scathing to say about that suggestion, Spike stubbed out his cigarette and cut him off. "See here whelp, you need to get out with some guys for a change, and Giles just ain’t gonna cut it. When's the last time you went to a party that didn't involve braiding hair? Are you really looking forward to spending Saturday nights out clubbing and cruising for birds with Willow? Or fighting off Dawn's attempts to give you a makeover? Or sitting alone, watching Star Trek reruns in your socks and underwear?" he scoffed. "That's not what you need right now. A few rounds of pool, then an evening in the company of men, playing a Gentlemen's game and relaxing, that's exactly what you need to get your mind off things." Spike gave Xander a open, guileless smile that had every warning bell in Xander's head blaring like a four-alarm fire drill.
Xander sputtered "Men? A Gentlemen's game? In the back room at Willy's?" He looked Spike over, more suspicious then ever.
"Never said they were Gentlemen, Harris. Wouldn't be any damn fun if they were, that's the point."
Xander thought over his options, and made a tiny decision that was to have some huge long-term consequences. "I don't know what evil plan you're up to, Spike, and I don't really care… But damnit, anything's better then going back to that empty apartment this early. I get to break first, though, seeing as I'm going to be the one paying for the pool table."
Xander had a tough decision to make. Possibly a life or death decision. Fight or flee? Cover your ass at all costs, or go for the gusto and screw the consequences? What were his odds on survival here? Well, you only live once.
"I'll see you two kittens and raise you … Twenty bucks and that freaky bracelet I won earlier." Xander said with a nonchalance that completely belied the butterflies trying to break their way out of his stomach. He'd learned early on in the evening that most of the other players could hear his heartbeat, so bluffing was out of the question. So he'd been playing it straight as an arrow all night, and should be losing like a good rube, the kind who wouldn't be getting his lungs torn out in a dark alley later this evening. But he'd won several large hands, including the last two - when he'd been expressly trying to lose them. That bracelet gave him the creeps. No way was that thing going home with him. He took another gulp of Tequila. And why does Spike always have to splay his legs and frame his crotch with his hands like that? It's so damn annoying. And distracting. Stupid vampire.
Clem and Spike both folded. That just left Big Bison-horned Guy and the Tentacled One. Those twitchy little tentacles framing his face had been unconsciously signaling 'tells' all night, and the demon's losing streak was getting him seriously pissed off. If either of them would just call already, then he could show his crappy hand to them, and they could take back their winnings and everybody would be happy. Maybe even keep all their organs.
Both of them did call. And when Xander flipped over his cards... one of them was distinctly different from what he remembered being in his hand a minute ago. Surely he wasn't that drunk, was he? Oh, Holy Hand-grenade, he had the winning hand! Why the fuck hadn't he folded when he'd had the chance? He was never gonna make it home in one piece now.
The Bison Guy was stoic about his loss, but the Green Wormy Guy was seething with resentment. Just when he was sure the guy was going to start spewing bile and melt everyone in the room, he handed him the deck of cards instead.
"Oh, yeah, my deal. So, umm, Baseball?" At the blank looks, he elaborated. "Seven card stud, threes and nines are wild, fours face up get you an extra card."
When the burly demons both bowed out of the game, Xander almost fainted in relief. Apparently, Big Bison guy had young hatching soon, and a very hormone-driven wife sitting on eggs at home. Xander dealt out the next hand minus the two players, and once they had left all three of the remaining players visibly relaxed and let out breaths they hadn't realized they were holding.
"You were bloody brilliant mate," Spike said to Xander with a backslap and a grin that promised nefarious doings. He began to refill Xander's glass for him.
"No thanks, I've had enough booze. My eyes are already playing tricks on me – I've no idea how I won the last few hands." Xander only then noticed just how shifty both Spike and Clem were looking.
"You two were cheating! I knew it! You cheated so… I would win? What the hell for?"
"Because it would look too suspicious if Clem won that bracelet himself. But now, it was fairly won in a game of chance by a human with no ties to the Shrevacor clan. And the fact that Clem's girlfriend has her heart set on that exact bracelet is purely coincidence. Right, Clem?"
"Um, right," agreed Clem, not sure why he was feeling in a bit over his head at the moment, what with all the tension suddenly in the room.
Spike refilled Clem's tumbler, threw a crafty glance in Xander's direction, and drawled "Now, that doesn't mean that you have to give Clem that bracelet in return for staking you those two starter kittens. You could just give him two back and take that little bauble home with you."
Xander shuddered at the thought and shook his head so hard he almost jerked himself out of his chair. "No! Take it! Get it away from me! That thing gives me the screamin’ meemies."
"Good, because if she doesn’t get that bracelet, heads will roll, starting with mine," Confessed Clem as he expertly scooped it into a leather pouch without touching it. "That thing sets my teeth on edge, but it's a family heirloom, and she's not going to rest until she gets it back in the vault where it belongs."
Xander looked askance at Spike, who said quietly "Long story. Tell you later." Spike then looked him up and down, and for once, instead of feeling that Spike's gaze found him incredibly lacking somehow, the once-over he was getting was spreading a rush of warmth everywhere, making his toes curl. When Spike's eyes reached Xander's face again, their eyes met. And he's doing that thing with his tongue behind his teeth again! Gah! "Besides, I didn't think jewelry made from human teeth braided with demon chest hair is quite your style, pet."
"That's… ish. That's something I’d have been a whole lot happier not knowing. Hey, take the kitties too, would you? I have a no-pets clause in my lease."
As Xander and Clem packed up the felines, Spike divvied up the other winnings, and realized the kid really had made quite a killing. He pocketed the Clan of Devros ring and a couple of other cheap baubles that would make him a handsome profit in certain demon circles, and let the kid keep the lion's share of the cash in return.
"C'mon Harris, lets get you home. Wouldn't want some slithery nasty to jump you now that you're flush with your ill-gotten booty, now would we?" Spike said with a lascivious little smirk. The comment brought up an instant mental picture that had Xander blushing furiously, and reminding himself that that wasn't what Spike meant at all, so get your mind out of the gutter, already. He told himself he'd never be thinking things like that if he hadn't been drinking rotgut all night.
As they walked to the car, Spike flicked away his cigarette and drawled "So, that wasn't as bad as you expected, was it? You enjoy yourself? Feel a bit better now?"
Xander thought about it a bit and replied with some surprise "I haven’t thought about Anya once all night. So, yeah…I did. Thanks. I guess."
"Don't mention it. Seriously, not to anybody. Don't want anyone thinking that I'm going soft. My reputation is bad enough as it is."
"Harris. What brings you here?"
"Cheap alcohol. There's a Godzilla film festival on tonight, and watching Tokyo fall is an excellent reason to celebrate. Besides, Lee's Liquors is the only place that carries that funky stout you like so much. So whadda you say? Wanna watch Toyko get stomped on?"
As the six of them finished the last sweep of the night, Spike hung back a little, hoping to talk to Xander. Buffy had been invading his personal space all evening, mixing quippy little personal digs with oh-so-innocent views of her cleavage and jugular in a way that was usually guaranteed to get his motor running. But now, it just made him deeply sad. She'd said that their little thing, if it could even be called that, was killing her. It was killing him too. They'd been getting along so well when she first came back. He'd been so happy then, and in hindsight, he honestly wished they had never started fucking each other. Because that's all it was to her. He was good enough to pound her raw, but not to hold her hand, or kiss her, or be allowed to spend any time with Dawnie like he used to. He missed his niblet something fierce, and he was sick of being treated like dirt except when Buffy wanted something from him.
Ever since Buffy had broken off their little… whatever it was, he'd been avoiding her. He would have liked to be able to part friends, at least. But as he suspected, the Slayer hormones were overriding her common sense again. But not enough to treat him with the tiniest bit of common decency, especially around her friends, oh, no. He knew that "I want a shag and I want it now, and I really couldn't give a rat's ass what you want" look quite well, and he was having none of it. No way in hell was he going to go home to his crypt anytime soon. If she didn't know where to find him, then neither of them could do something spectacularly stupid. Again.
"Oi, lad. You up for a movie after this?" Spike asked quietly. "Midnight Matinee is 'Death Race 2000' tonight. We have just enough time for a beer and chips run before it starts." Spike knew perfectly well that Xander had his own copy of it on VHS. He also knew that the boy had practically worn it out.
"Hmm. I am a bit short on my recommended daily dose of gratuitous violence. And my beer levels are getting pretty low, too... Besides, nobody scores my navigator and gets away with it!"
Willow heard low voices, and looked over her shoulder just in time to see Spike and Xander exchange nearly identical devious little smirks. Holy moly! First Buffy starts acting bipolar, and then those two start bonding. Everybody has been acting all jiggy lately. Perhaps it's time for cleansing spells all round again.
I've been trying to get their clothes off, really I have! They just don't want to behave! But I'm just trying to build trust, friendship, mutual respect and loyalty between them, before I whip out the butt-plugs, rawhide and honey. I'll get to the smut, eventually.
Xander carefully descended the rusty ladder. "Spike? Are you down here?" He reached the bottom and walked over to the big bed, but it was empty. The dresser opposite was a mess, but had a big sketch of Joyce and her girls taped over the mirror. It was a very good likeness; it captured all three personalities beautifully. Especially Joyce's kind eyes. Xander remembered the look on Spike's face back when he'd furiously declared that Joyce was a real lady, always had a cuppa for him, never treated him like a freak. And Xander had been so sure at the time that it was all just an act. He felt a rush of shame.
"You goddamned tit! Keep this up, and so help me you're firewood!"
"Spike? You down here?" he repeated.
"Harris! Give us a hand here, would you?" Spike appeared in the entrance to the sewers, dragging a very big chair. It was dark solid oak and more like a huge throne, with Bacchus heads overlooking the backrest, cloven hooves for feet, and long talons on the armrests. Little naked wood-nymphs were prancing over every flat surface, drinking and frolicking and joyously debauching away with some VERY well endowed satyrs. The chair was an absolute peon to hedonism – it was perfect for Spike. Xander could just picture him reclining there: one leg thrown over an armrest, cigarette in one hand and a bottle of JD in the other…
"Where on earth did you find this? I've never seen anything like it."
Spike plopped down on his bed, pulled out a cig, and deftly lit up. "Remember that dagger I took off of that Dras'nak demon we killed two weeks ago? Well, I traded that for an Altarian Horn of Calling, swapped that and two Buzzcocks CDs with a buddy of Clem's for a Boracci Talisman of Protection, and then bartered that to the Griffle demon who owns the pawn shop on Park Street for this chair, a pair of short swords he thinks are eighteenth century French but are really seventeenth Century Danish and worth a lot more then he was asking for them, and a damn fine case of single malt."
Spike beamed up proudly at Xander, who was staring, gobsmacked.
"So, I did pretty good, eh?"
"Spike? There’s something I really need to show you."
"Oh. Dear. GOD!"
Xander desperately held down the giggle that was trying to break out. Perhaps it hadn't been the best idea to spring "Antiques Roadshow" on Spike without breaking it to him gently first.
"Did you SEE that?" Spike cried indignantly. "This is complete bollocks! In my day, you could pick those up anywhere for less then two shillings! What kind of pillock would pay a hundred dollars for a postcard of some dozy cow in her corset and stockings?"
Xander kept a straight face through sheer force of will. "Well, you heard what he said, Spike; it's especially rare, that postcard is from 1873, and a similar one from 1910 wouldn't be worth half that. Makes you wish you kept some of that stuff now, huh?… You're so good at trading stuff with demons, I'm surprised you haven't tried your hand at antique trading. You probably know more about Victoriana then all those experts put together," Xander said in a completely neutral tone of voice, turning away and biting his lip hard as he retreated to the kitchen. He grabbed two beers and the flyer off his fridge as he heard the TV narrator natter on about a truly hideous old vase that was worth thousands, to Spike’s utter disgust. Xander was grinning so hard, his face hurt.
As Xander plopped next to Spike on the couch and handed over his beer, Spike grumbled, "Antiques sales don't usually cater to demon folk, Harris. We tend to keep very different hours."
"Oh, you'd be surprised the kinds of hours the big rummage sales keep nowadays." Xander grinned as he handed Spike a flyer for a huge sale that weekend. "It's indoors, and only about an hour's drive away. They have about six hundred dealers booths, all different sorts of stuff. If you don't mind skimming through a lot of worthless crap, you can find some really cool things dirt cheap."
Spike glanced at the flyer, then looked over Xander for signs of mockage, but found none. "Sounds like you've done this before."
"My mom and I used to go, when I was a kid. She'd give me two or three dollars, and I'd buy cheap old comic books and used toys," Xander remembered fondly. "Nowadays, I go looking for shabby chic for my bachelor pad, maybe a pretty bit of old costume jewelry for… one of the girls." His heart ached as he thought of Anya. He realized with a little shock that it had been quite a while since he had thought of her. "They also have a bar in the building, with great food and cheap stiff drinks for afterwards. I'll even spot you a twenty in seed money if you want, provided I get to see everything you buy. I suspect it'll be well worth it just to see what you walk out of there with. So whatta ya say – fancy a little roadtrip with me this weekend?"
The two of them paused on the head of the stairway landing for a moment, and scanned the bustle below them. The huge auditorium had been open for several hours already, and was hopping with activity.
"Look at all the people down there. And every one of them hoping to find that one priceless antique going for a song. Can't you just smell the avarice?" Xander mused with a smirk almost worthy of Spike himself.
Spike replied "It's no Portobello Road, but it'll do. It never occurred to me that they had these things here in California."
"First Sunday of every month. Wanna just start at this end and work our way that direction? I got a dealer buddy up in that row who is always willing to buy old poker chips."
Xander & Spike collapsed into one of the plush booths, both of them laden down with the day's loot. The bar was actually part of the VFW hall, but Xander was apparently a card-carrying member of the VFW and was familiar with the place, which looked like it hadn't been redecorated since 1959. As Spike gratefully lit his first cigarette in hours, an ancient waitress walked up and grinned at the pair. "So how are you kids doing tonight?"
"Fine, Charlene. Tired and hungry, but we made a really good haul."
Spike jaw dropped a little. The waitress knew him? Just how often did Xander come here?
"Good! The usual for you, sweetie?"
"And how about you sugar? Need a minute to decide?" Charlene asked Spike with a warm smile, offering him a menu.
"Depends. What's the usual?"
"Beer-battered onion rings, beer-battered fish, hash browns with melted cheese and green beans. Anything beer-battered here is worth ordering. And they make their own root beer as well, it's the best.” Xander informed him with enthusiasm, smacking his lips.
"I'll just have the onion rings and the hot wings, and the strongest beer you have."
As Charlene left for the kitchen, Xander rubbed his hands together and chortled, "So, what'd you get? I'll show you my loot if you show me yours."
They both started pulling out and comparing their purchases. To Xander's surprise, Spike's musical tastes didn't just run to punk rock. He had bought several old 78 r.p.m. records, a few 45's and a battered old record player that folded up into a little suitcase. He was quite excited about the prospect of hearing the old tunes again for the first time in decades. He'd gotten a few old leather-bound books as well. Xander had bargained down a dealer for a nice old Bugs Bunny planter from the 1940's and a lovely carved and inlaid jewelry box for Willow. And his friend had given him a very good deal on several old sixties Mexican monster movie posters in return for the poker chips Xander had gotten at a garage sale the month before. And Spike had haggled hard for a delicate Victorian choker for Dawn, that Xander knew she would squeal in delight over and probably never take off again. Spike's coup de grace, though, was an old Masonic watch fob with a gold skull with red eyes. The dealer had thought they were red rhinestones, but Spike was quite certain that they were rubies. Then their food came, and they both worked on plowing through everything they'd ordered.
By the time they were on the road back home the sun had gone down, so Spike chucked the blanket in back and went through Xander's box of CD's. What he found there astonished him. Sure the kid liked NSYNC, but he also liked the Reverend Horton Heat, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Ray Charles and the Talking Heads, B.B. King and Bob Marley. And French accordion music. And Hawaiian Slide Guitar Christmas Classics. The kid has diverse tastes, he thought, I'll give him that. He put in a Cab Calloway CD, and let his mind wander back to another, much happier time.
"You like Cab Calloway? Wait a minute – why am I surprised?"
"Like him? He's bloody brilliant, he is! You shoulda seen him back in his prime. Voice like a dark angel, and a body that moved like sex on legs. He had one of the sweetest asses I've ever seen on a man… and my, but he knew how to use it. He really was something."
"You?? And Cab Calloway?!? Well…Damn."
For the record, as far as I know Cab was always straight as an arrow. But to me, Spike is like Greta Garbo, his allure transcends gender. No one can resist his charms.
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