Snippets from the Shame the Devil Universe





Shame the Devil - Snippets


by
Yin Again



Casablanca

Spike notices hair. People who have tattoos or piercings notice them on other people, those with Mini Coopers wave to each other on the road, at least they do in America. Everyone looks out for those people that are part of their particular tribe of affectation. For Spike, it's hair.

He's two songs into his first set when he sees the guy at the bar. Well, when he sees his hair. From the back, the man is nothing special - his clothes are kind of worn and they don't fit very well. He looks to be tall and kind of broad - just a normal bar patron. But his hair - his hair is something special. Longer than the collar of the faded plaid shirt, and it's wavy. Not curly like Spike's own would be if he let it happen, but actual waves - the kind that catch the light and reflect it back. The hair is dark, too, and Spike's been a sucker for dark hair forever.

He's been at this singing thing for a while, and he can do his sets without thought. He knows just when to lean intimately into the microphone, the exact timing for tossing his head back to hit a higher note. It's easy, and it lets him watch the motion of that glorious hair as the man at the bar drinks deeply from his glass of whiskey. That's when he recognizes Xander. And stumbles slightly over the words to Paint It Black.

He spends the rest of the song thinking. Thinking about Xander and wondering how he'd wound up here and, more to the point, why. It has to be an accident - they'd parted badly, with yelling and tears. Well, Spike had yelled, and he'd been the one with the tears - so very, very angry about Buffy's resurrection, and so very, very hurt that Xander hadn't told him. He watches closely, and when Xander turns toward the door, he studies the revealed profile. His face is pale and drawn; the eye that he can see is shadowed. The hand that comes up to run through that vibrant hair trembles. And in that instant, Spike forgives. And when he introduces his next song, he says that it's for his friend.





The Card

Character Interview:
For Spike: why did he first started signing the cards home S&X?


The first time, he hesitated with the pen poised over the card. It was the perfect card, really. It was Dawn's birthday, and Spike had found a card with a photo of a small white kitten done up in punk gear on the front. It was precisely the kind of thing she'd adore, and then swear it was much too childish for a young woman of sixteen. She'd shut up when she opened the diamond earrings that accompanied it.

He'd already written his own signature, a bold slash of red that formed the letter S. He and Xander had been in LA for six months, sharing a sprawling two-bedroom flat in a crappy part of town. Safety wasn't a huge concern when you had a vampire roommate, and that afforded them a wider choice of dwellings. The boy never had explained what had run him out of Sunnydale, and Spike had yet to have the occasion to talk to Buffy about it. He had to soon, though - he wanted to talk to her about Dawn's education and offer to help.

Sighing resolutely, he brought the pen down and drew an ampersand. He doubted that Dawn even knew what one was, but he drew it anyway. Beneath it, he slashed the letter X. He sealed the card and dropped it and the small jewelry box into the padded overnight envelope. Oh well, if they asked he could always say Xander picked out the card.





Test Drive

Spike could hear Xander outside, fumbling with his keys and talking on his cell phone. He hurried to the door - their place was in a pretty demony part of town and Xander was, after all, a nummy treat. There could conceivably be something left in the area that didn't know Spike's flatmate was off the menu. As the door opened, Xander shoved his keys into his pocket and reached up for the phone that was awkwardly pressed between ear and shoulder.

"Yeah, Steve - I'm really sorry. Something came up. I can't get out there tonight. Can I take you to lunch tomorrow?" He paused, listening, then faked a laugh. "Yeah, a late lunch, say 2:00? Meet you at the bar?" He paused again. "I'll bring a demo CD and a set list for you. Thanks, man."

He pocketed the phone and stepped into the apartment. As Spike closed the door behind him, he noticed that Xander's left arm was not inside the sleeve of his jacket. The arm was, in fact, in a sling. Inside the sling, his arm was encased from palm to just below the elbow in fresh, white plaster.

"What the hell happened, Xan?" he asked, easing the jacket off and hanging it on the coat rack by the door.

Xander moved to the sofa and sat down, bending wearily to struggle with the laces of his boots one-handed. Spike knelt, brushing his hand away to unlace the boots himself. Xander sat back, running his free hand through his hair.

"Me and another guy were carrying some beams and I tripped and broke my wrist. I've been in the hospital all afternoon. It's not bad - greenstick - they didn't even have to mess with it much." He sounded exhausted. But then, he always sounded exhausted. "Damn good thing there's no gig tonight, I'm whipped."

Spike set the work boots beside the couch and got to his feet. He walked back to Xander's jacket and dug in the pocket, coming up with a bottle of painkillers. He read the dosage instructions as he walked to the kitchen. "You had one of these yet?" he called.

"No," Xander said quietly. "Had to drive and they'll make me wonky."

Spike returned with a glass of water and a pill, handing them to Xander before perching on the coffee table in front of him. He waited until the pill was swallowed and the water drunk before taking the empty glass and turning it around and around between his hands.

"Why'd you trip?" he asked.

"Because I'm a klutz," Xander said, rubbing his hand over his face. "You know that."

"Are not," Spike said. "OK, you kind of are, but that's not why. You were asleep on your feet again, weren't you? What time did we get in last night? 3:00? And you were on the site at 6:00. It's a miracle you didn't saw your arm off."

Xander didn't answer, just looked down and picked at the edges of the cast.

After a long pause, Spike set the glass on the table and stood. "Lemme run you a bath and find you some plastic to cover that thing - you're filthy."

Xander nodded tiredly and followed him into the bathroom, easing the strap of the sling off his shoulder and unbuttoning his shirt. Spike started the water and went to the kitchen, returning with a bread bag and duct tape. He covered and secured the cast, then left Xander alone with instructions to call if he needed help.

He knew Xander wouldn't call. He knew this because Xander had methods for dealing with any and all work-related injuries. Because they were happening more frequently. In the prior three months there had been a badly wrenched shoulder, a sprained ankle, and a moderately serious cut, one requiring stitches. Add to that the increase in bruises and cuts and scrapes, and Spike knew that something had to give. He walked to the bathroom and sat down, back against the door.

"Xander?"

He could hear a little splashing, the soft sounds of a washcloth on skin. "Yeah?"

"How long are you out of work?" Spike knew that the broken wrist, unlike the other injuries, would sideline Xander, at least for a while.

"Four to six weeks, Worker's Comp," Xander answered.

Spike stayed quiet and thought. He did some math in his head. Xander was spending at least nine hours a day at work. He usually left the site in the late afternoon and met with one or two club owners, trying to get gigs for Spike. He was good at it - he could talk the talk, and he'd learned a subtle combination of ego stroking and aloofness that worked in the music industry. He'd helped Spike choose his set list and found a place to record and duplicate a demo CD. He learned how to use the annoying graphics package on their computer and made cover art and flyers.

Most nights, Spike had gigs to play - he was building a local following and had a couple of steady engagements. Xander always went with him, and he always stayed to the bitter end, even hanging around for the drinks and bullshitting after the bars closed, cementing his relationship with the club owners over beers and shots. They'd drag themselves home, and Xander would be up at dawn for work. No wonder he was falling apart.

Spike listened, recognizing the sounds of Xander washing and rinsing his hair and levering himself out of the water. He could hear the rasp of the towel as he dried off.

"Why do you still have that job?" Spike asked.

"Um, mostly the paycheck, Spike." Xander's voice was tired, so tired, and Spike could hear the slight slur from the painkillers.

"You could make more money being my manager full-time, you know," Spike said, not knowing if it were true or not, but unable to not make the offer. As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he felt the unfamiliar urge to babble. "I mean, you already do the job, and you're good at it, and you can't work for a few weeks. You could...try it out; see if you...you know...want to."

The bathroom door opened, and Xander stood there, hair dripping onto his shoulders, towel wrapped around his hips. "You'd want me to be your manager? For real?" He looked...stunned and excited and unsure.

"Well, yeah," Spike said. "Of course - you're already my manager, I just don't pay you."

"How much do managers get paid?" Xander asked. "Ten percent?"

"No way," Spike said. "We do this, it's fifty-fifty. Even if it's fifty percent of nothing."

Xander's smile lit up his whole face, and most of the room. He held out his uninjured hand. "Partners?"

Spike shook the outstretched hand. "Partners," he agreed.





Caught On Fire

They all do it - it's part of the rock-star-entourage benefit package - getting laid a lot. Spike likes to get laid. Sex is vital and fun and a great way to blow off steam when he can't go out and kill something. Truth is, he could go out and kill something - six months now with the ability - but he doesn't want to see that conflicted, white-hat-with-a-moral-dilemma look on Xander's face. Doesn't want to see disappointment there, either.

So, they all do it. The bodyguards do it, well, all but Jack. Jack is...different. He never seems to be interested in anything but his job. Spike finds him a little cold, but the guy can kick ass and doesn't balk at the other aspects of the job, so if he wants to keep company with his hand, it's all the same to Spike. Carl likes tall women, usually those that are light mocha compared to his dark skin. Isha is kind of shy and sometimes winds up with the quieter, plainer friends of the girls who launch themselves at Spike. Ace likes boys, and if Spike notices that he trends toward tall, dark, boyish guys, well, that's not his to discuss.

Even Annie does it. She's discreet and particular, but Spike's seen her sending a few men and fewer women away from her hotel room door in the early hours. He just thinks "good for her" and lets her sleep late, if she will. Xander didn't do it for a long time. For a couple of years, his eyes followed petite blonde girls, but he always turned them down gently and sweetly, claiming that the manager's work was never done. After a while, he surprised Spike by going for a couple of guys, usually slim, compact men, nicely muscled.

Spike does it all the time, and he's not particular. He's got a finely honed radar that picks the most likely body out of the crowd and zeroes in, and he never, ever loses. He's picked girls with husbands or boyfriends, and, with nimble grace and nimbler fingers, managed to get them both into his bed, if that's what he wanted. Sometimes he goes for demons or other vampires, when he's feeling like revisiting the good old days. He'll admit that he's sought out big, brooding darkness and slim, ethereal craziness from time to time.

Groupies are the easiest; they're like takeaway or room service - delivered right to the door. Some of them follow him around the country, a few around the world. He rewards that sort of loyalty, if she's pretty enough or he's drunk enough. He's done some crazy shit in his time, but the craziest yet is going on in his head. Xander has walked in on a couple of scenes. It's not too unusual, because Spike isn't all that careful about closing doors or moving to less public spaces when the urge strikes him. The crazy part is the shuttered look he thinks he's seen on Xander's face, and the lurch in his unbeating heart when he thinks about it.

Xander's his friend. It's a word Spike doesn't use lightly. He had a friend, back when he was alive. A good one, a true one. He thinks Xander might just be the second person in his life who deserves to use that title. And you think about your friends in a certain way, and not in others. And that's just the way things are.





Missing Scene

Evil. Bad. Wrong. Wicked.

Also very, very stoned.

Nine grand worth. It goes in the vein hot and cold...blunts the edges, blurs the lines. Helps you forget.

Forget that you're bad and you're wrong and that you want to fuck your best friend, partner, everything. Wanna fuck him. Wanna fuck pretty much everybody. Rock stars get to do that - comes with the limo and all that other shit you wouldn't have without him. Rock stars get to fuck everybody. Human, demon, male, female; they line up for it.

lines on the mirror, lines on her face...can't remember the words...doesn't matter anyway.

Don't want them. Want him. Need him. His body, his blood. Everything.

Evil. Wicked. Hungry. Hungry for him.

Want him.

Love him.

Lost.





Watching

Character Interview:
For Spike: How, exactly, do you know that Ace likes Xander? Or, boys in general?

Sometimes, they got lucky and the venue was set up for sports. In those arenas there was often a full gym. Others, like today's location, were more Spartan. Because of this, Spike and Ace were working out in a cleared area toward the back of the house. Ace was wearing padded focus mitts and the vampire was throwing a rapid series of punches and kicks at him. It was getting close to showtime - the sun had been down for hours and Spike would need to start getting ready soon. The two men wound down and stood for a moment in companionable silence while Ace caught his breath and unlaced the gloves. Spike's attention was caught by movement in the shadows at the side of the stage, and he narrowed his eyes. A tall man stood, leaning against the cinder-block wall. A smaller man was held in his arms. Spike couldn't see their upper bodies, but could tell that they were kissing. Large, tanned hands slid over blue denim to cup the smaller man's ass and pull him up on his toes. Ace gasped, and Spike moved his gaze up to see that lights on the stage were now dispelling the shadows a bit. The larger man was Xander. He was kissing the other man aggressively, his eyes squeezed shut. The smaller man had streaky blond hair and was compact and lithe. Breaking the kiss, he dropped smoothly to his knees and started undoing Xander's belt buckle. Spike and Ace watched as Xander tipped his head back against the wall, emphasizing the strong line of his throat. As the man on his knees reached into Xander's unzipped jeans, Spike and Ace turned away. Spike caught a brief look of longing and pain on Ace's face and knew that it was mirrored on his own. The bodyguard pulled the unlaced mitt back onto his hand and held it out to his employer to re-tie. Spike did, and they walked a few feet away and resumed their workout. Neither commented if the punches and kicks were a bit more intense, or if the solid thwack of fists hitting leather covered a multitude of ambient sounds.





Pink Cigar

"I can't do it! You just don't understand!"

"Dawn."

"It's impossible! I can't do it!"

"Dawn."

"I'd be better off - I could help build huts. Huts are important!"

"Dawn!"

"What?"

God, she sounded miserable. She was using that tone. The one that was equal parts panic and despair and deep, bone-crunching anxiety, laced with such defeat. It was breaking his heart. And the pitch of her voice was breaking his eardrums.

"You cannot drop out of medical school and join the Peace Corps." Spike couldn't keep the exasperation out of his voice.

"Yes, I could, too!" she wailed. "Peace is important. I could serve society that way." She took a deep breath. "I could...pay you back." Her voice sped up. "It's not that I don't appreciate it, Spike - you know I do! I think it's so cool that you help me pay for school and I'm seriously the only student with a rock star for a kind of Dad..."

Spike pulled the phone away from his face, so she wouldn't hear the startled gasp that comment produced. In the background, he could hear her voice in the receiver, tinny and shrill. "Kind of Dad." Huh. Spike smiled a tiny little smile. It grew into a larger smile, then a grin. He put the phone back up to his ear and cut Dawn off mid-sentence.

"No," he said. "You can't go."

"But, Spike!"

"No." Softer, gentler. "You can't. I'd miss you too much."

"Oh."

"Yeah, oh."

Much later, after much discussion and a promise to pay for an organic chemistry tutor, he hung up the phone to find Xander leaning in the doorway, watching him.

"What?" he asked, no heat in the question.

Xander ambled into the room and sat on the sofa, still grinning at Spike.

"She called you her Dad, didn't she?"

Spike felt his mouth drop open and closed it quickly, frowning. "How'd you know?"

"Stupid grin," Xander said, gesturing toward Spike"s face. "Same one I got the first time she called me her brother."

Spike's grin couldn"t withstand the heat and light and magnetic force of Xander's.

"Congratulations," Xander said, clapping him on the shoulder. "It's a girl."





Block

Did you ever try to write a song for Xander?

Don't ask. Just don't fuckin' ask. I don't write my own songs - never have. Just because I say I never have doesn't mean I haven't tried. I've filled pages and pages with the biggest collection of festering crap known to man or demon. I've worn out pens. All right, all right - I break the pens long before they run out.

You're aware that nothing rhymes with "Xander," right? Seriously - nothing worth having in a song, anyway. Maddening, that. Even when I was a human, I was a hack poet - follows that I'd be a hack songwriter. Early days, I stuck to cover songs, and later on Xan found me up-and-coming writers. It works.

There's plenty I'd like to say to him that way, but I can't. Think I'll go break some more pens now.



Permutations

Xander and Dawn: Egg

"How was your date?" Xander can't hide the smirk, so he lifts another forkful of eggs to his mouth.

Dawn looks like she wants to peg him in the head with her muffin, but settles for a vicious scowl. "It was nice," she sneers, and in her mouth the word sounds like something you wouldn't want to have, like a tumor or an indictment.

"No tongue, huh?" Xander smiles along with the jab - he knows firsthand what Spike's possessiveness is like.

Dawn simply makes and eloquent grumping noise that manages to convey love and laughter and frustration and annoyance all at once and spears Xander's last sausage with her fork.

Spike and Isha: Watercolor

"How was your date?" Spike can't hide the menace in his voice, just like he can't help smacking Isha around a little, under the guise of sparring. Isha's lip is swollen, and a bit of spit-diluted blood stains his face in a line like a watercolor wash from the corner of his mouth to his chin.

"It was nice," Isha says, tracing the split in his lip with his tongue, keeping his hands up, having learned that lesson the first time.

Spike ceases his rapid dancing from the ball of one foot to the other and steps closer. Isha nearly manages to suppress his flinch.

"You really like her, don't you?" he says, unlacing his glove. Isha smiles, and the smear of blood doesn't touch the quiet happiness on his face.

Spike looks at him - looks at him hard, and wonders if that's what he looks like when he thinks about Xander. If it is, then they're in for it. He busies himself with his gloves, then meets Isha's eyes.

"She hurts; you hurt," he says.

"That's already the case," Isha replies.

Spike and Xander: Stratosphere

They meet on the sweeping staircase in the hotel lobby. It's early, and quiet, so they sit down halfway up the stairs, Xander one step higher than Spike, creating a sheltered cove with his body, hands light on shoulders and knees.

"She really likes him," Xander says, tipping his head toward the couple speaking quietly near the door.

"He really likes her," Spike replies, leaning back to rub his head naughtily against Xander.

"Shovel talk?" Xander asks.

"Not necessary." Spike rubs his face against the hand on his shoulder like a cat, asking for strokes. The hand moves to his hair, lips come down warmly to his ear.

"They're good together," Xander whispers.

"Not as good as us," Spike growls.

Xander, his heart somewhere up in the stratosphere, pulls him close. "This is nice."

Dawn and Isha: Novel

"They're at it again; that's novel." Dawn keeps her voice light, meeting Isha near the door.

"Hey," he says. "How are you?"

"Good." Dawn pauses, remembering that she isn't a gawky teenager anymore, telling herself she's a strong woman now. "I had a really nice time on our date."

Isha's smile is worth the bravery - he looks...enchanted, but not in the scary, magically-influenced kind of way. "Me, too." He says.

They smile at one another for a moment, and it's not awkward, it's...good.

Dawn glances over at Spike and Xander. The kissing on the stairs is getting intense. She feels Isha take her hand and squeeze it.

"Shall we go save them from a public indecency charge?" he asks.

Spike and Dawn and Xander and Isha: Interior

They break apart as Dawn and Isha approach. Spike stares at their clasped hands, but neither lets go. With a nod and a small smile, he looks away.

"Sun's up," Isha says, carefully watching as the line of light encroaches on the interior of the lobby.

"Got a few safe minutes yet," Spike says.

Isha sits next to Xander and Dawn sits next to Spike, but they manage to keep on holding hands.

The line of deadly sunlight inches closer, and Spike's amused to see that the other three all start fidgeting at the same time. Their protectiveness makes him first frown and then smile, and then frown again. He lets himself be led up the stairs, after seeing Dawn off with a hug. Upstairs, Isha turns toward his door with a wave.

Xander opens the door to their suite and gestures Spike inside. "Ready for bed?" he asks.

"Ready for you," Spike purrs, pulling him in by the hand.





Untitled Dawn/Isha

Dawn caught herself looking at Isha clinically. Which made some sense - doctor.

She had not looked at him that way two nights earlier, the night of their date. She'd looked at him like a girl looks at a hot guy who is paying her rapt attention, being charming and funny and buying her an expensive dinner without any moronic remarks about the fact that she can be remarkably precise when ordering. Dressing on the side, hold the mushrooms and please, God, don't overcook the tuna.

The date had been good. Isha had been good. Too good. Dawn shifted in her chair when she remembered the chaste kiss on the cheek he'd given her at Buffy's door. Damn Spike to Hell - too late - for scaring him off. She could only imagine the really detailed threats he'd laid on Isha before the poor man had come to pick her up.

Thinking of Spike brought her back to the clinical. Just because she'd been the only one to figure out that the bodyguards were Spike's food didn't mean that she was as accepting as she made it out to be. She would never, ever be less than cool about it in front of Spike or the others - her unconditional support of her vampire, pseudo-brother, kinda-father-figure, whatever-the-hell-he-was would never waver. It did wig her a little, and it wasn't just residual Riley-effect. She figured that it wasn't that way for the guards - Spike wouldn't want it that way, and what Spike wanted, Spike got. In spades, delivered by Xander, usually.

Clinically speaking, Isha was big. Not enormous like Carl, but a little taller than Xander and broader, his large body well-padded with muscle. He made her feel tiny, and that rarely happened for a woman who stood almost six feet tall barefoot. He made her feel the way Buffy must feel with, well, everybody. Small, delicate, pretty. His high cheekbones and the tilt of his eyes showed his Asian ancestry, but there was enough Anglo there for him to have a peaches and cream complexion that was warming slightly under her gaze.

Looked like Isha was getting nervous. She was staring, after all. She kept it up. Waiting. It took a lot to scare Dawn. She had breezed through the dissection of everything from a frog to a fetal pig to a human head - Isha didn't have a chance. Just for grins she put her arms over her head and stretched, feeling the soft cotton of her worn tee shirt slide up her belly, exposing a few inches of skin as she twitched her hips deeper into the armchair. His blush rose a little higher.

Finally, he broke. "What?" he asked quietly.

Dawn stared a moment longer, then unwound herself from the chair, walking over to the sofa and balancing on its arm, next to him. "I have a question," she said.

"Just one?"

"Several. Do you mind?" She absently ran her fingers through the back of his hair, watching as the short, dark strands fell back into perfectly straight lines.

"Open book," he said, shivering a bit from her touch.

"Why didn't you give me a proper goodnight kiss after our date?" She hadn't graduated first in her class by being timid.

Isha turned to her and raised one eyebrow, his expression a direct copy of Spike's. "I like my dick attached, thank you very much."

Dawn grinned. "His bark's worse than his bite," she joked, before realizing what she'd said. Isha merely pursed his lips a little and continued looking steadily at her. She trailed her fingertips down the side of his neck.

"Where does he bite you?" she asked.

Isha reached down and pushed his right sleeve up to his bicep, indicating the inside of his elbow. Dawn traced her fingers over the area, noting that it was unscarred.

"Makes sense," she said. "Good veins here." And he did have good veins, thick and prominent, crossing like blue roads just under the soft, dusky skin. She leaned down and kissed him there, then ran her tongue along the crease.

"Did he threaten you tonight?" she asked.

"No," Isha answered, his voice tight. "No time."

Dawn straightened and slid off of her perch and into his lap, looping her arms around his neck and grinning up at him. "Good."





Future Snippets

Hold On

"Hey, Spike?"

"Yeah, luv?"

"Can I ask you a question?"

"Just did."

"Spiiiike..."

"Yeah, love - tell you anything."

"Do you remember, a long time ago..."

"In a land far, far away?"

"It freaks me out when you reference Star Wars."

"I know - that's why I do it."

"I know. Anyway - long time ago, I walked backstage during a set break and you were..."

"Yeah?"

"You were...with...three girls."

"Oh, that."

"Yeah, that."

...

...

"Was there a question, pet?"

"Kinda. You... grabbed my hand when you... came."

"Yeah. Did you know I can almost hear you blush?"

"Stop it. You remember that?"

"God, yes."

"What were you... thinking?"

"Xan, I was getting off - wasn't a lot of thinking going on."

"Oh."

...

...

"I...was - shit, Xander. I was feeling so much, you know? Heat and wetness everywhere, and I was pretty drunk. It felt...good. Better than good. And then the door opened, and you were there, and you walked closer."

"Couldn't help it."

"Yeah. And your eyes, love - hotter than all those girls put together. Couldn't help myself, couldn't let you get away."

"I didn't want to get away."

"Know that now, don't I?"

"So?"

"There may have been five people in that room, Xander, but all I saw was you."





Birthday

I really thought that he'd forgotten...well, actually, I assumed he didn't know. I hadn't celebrated a birthday since I left Sunnydale, and the girls all knew not to make a big deal out of it. They'd call or send cards, but no parties, no flowers, no balloons - it was a thing.

So, after the whole Sunnydale return experience and all that followed, I didn't really think much about it, you know?

It was a regular day on tour. I got up in the afternoon and left Spike in the bed - hell, he'd earned it. I worked out with Ace and we headed out to the venue. There was the usual paperwork and bullshit - problems to solve, people to yell at...manager's work is never done. The girls and Giles called and chorused on the phone - their singing was subpar in my professional opinion, but I didn't tell them that. Annie brought me a grande latte and a double chocolate doughnut, just like she does every birthday. There's a reason she's so damn indispensable.

Spike showed up on time for soundcheck, and he was in a decent mood - didn't snarl at too may people and greeted me with a kiss that made my toes curl up. Annie talked him into wearing jeans onstage instead of the leathers - she knows what that paper-thin denim does to my blood pressure. Have I mentioned that I love her? I do. He wore a plain black teeshirt and docs, and left his hair a little curly and even consented to eyeliner. I was happy.

The show was a late one, and I knew he wouldn't come off the stage until well past one in the morning. That made the surprise all the sweeter when he came backstage at 11:59 and pushed me up against the wall and kissed me breathless for fifty-nine seconds. In that last second, he smiled at me and said, "I love you" for the first time. Then he went back to the stage. Took me two songs to get my mouth closed again. Best. Birthday. Ever.





Gamble

Roll the bloody dice, Xander thinks. In his head, he sounds like Spike. In reality, his British accent makes Giles and Spike get identical expressions of fussy English disdain on their faces. Which is fun, in its own way.

The tour is over, and a long month of nothing stretches out in front of them. Spike's asleep. Over the years, Xander's managed to learn to tell the difference between sleeping and the usual dead. It's subtle; it's a tension thing. Xander knows all about tension, especially when it comes to Spike.

It could go either way. It could go a lot of ways, really. Spike's unpredictable, except when he's not. Some days he's a lion in the sun - just without the sun. He'll wake slowly and stretch that tight, whipcord body slowly, slowly, seeming to arch ever upward, ever outward, until he should creak or snap. That tension will drift away just as slowly, and he'll lie there - an angel fallen to earth, soft and gentle and ready to cuddle for hours.

Other days, it's a terrifying blend of evil and joyous mania - like Tigger with a deathwish. Those are the mornings Xander could easily find himself waking up bound hand and foot to the bed frame, or already in some extremely compromising position. Not that he's complaining. Days that start out that way usually stay that way, and Xander's discovered that Spike has no shame; will have room service delivered right to the bedroom and will act as if having your manager spread-eagled with a blindfold and ball gag, covered in pudding is just what rock stars do between gigs.

Other days it's so normal that it kills - Spike with a book, Xander with his laptop, puttering around the rental house or hotel. Days when one brings the other lunch and gets a little kiss, or they watch a movie or the History Channel and Spike makes up scandalous gossip about Churchill and Stalin. Those days they aren't rock god and manager, or vampire and Scooby, or anything really, except two people who've found their place.

Xander's ready to roll those dice anytime, because he pretty much always wins.





The Soul of Wit

It was a relief to have Giles back to himself. It was disconcerting to everyone to have their strong backbone turn into a dependent child. Spike enjoyed it, just because it was nice to see the Watcher lighten up, and he was pretty sure the old boy had developed a taste for anime, under his tutelage.

Alas, Akira was pushed aside for the musty old books as Giles' face dropped the carefree, childish happiness that had gripped it and returned to the careworn and unruffled exterior they were all used to. However, Spike had an idea.

"Mind if I put on some music, Giles?" he asked, running a finger down the eclectic collection of CDs on Willow and Tara's bookshelf.

"Your latest?" Giles asked, a single eyebrow raised.

"Hardly," Spike said. "I have to sing it every bleeding night; I've had enough of that, thank you. Was thinking maybe...Metallica?"

"No," Giles replied, turning back to his research.

"Aerosmith?"

"No."

"Cohen?"

"Nuh...why, yes - that would be...acceptable." Giles looked up, startled, and Spike slipped the disc into the player.

Spike moved to the sofa and sat next to Giles. "I used to sing quite a bit of Leonard's stuff, back when I first got started," he said. "Everybody Knows and Famous Blue Raincoat."

"I always liked Take This Longing, myself," Giles said, looking Spike in the eye. From the kitchen, they could hear Xander and Willow, laughing as they assembled dinner. Giles' eyes moved in the direction of their happy voices and then back to Spike's. He raised an eyebrow.

"Shovel?" Spike asked, grinning.

"No," Giles said. "Something much, much worse."

"Yes, sir," Spike muttered, and they sat quietly until the others returned.





Hey, Pretty

Xander could see the hungry light in Spike's eyes when he looked at the group of girls. It wasn't the same heat and love that he directed at Xander; it was pure want. Xander looked more closely at one of the girls, the one who had Spike's attention, and smiled. She was tall, athletic, with wavy dark hair, tanned skin and snapping brown eyes. She was, for all intents and purposes, a girl version of Xander himself. She stood back a little, as if distancing herself from the fans in the front of the group - the ones who were red-faced and crying, trying desperately to get a moment of Spike's notice.

Xander stepped up behind Spike, closer than actually necessary, close enough to press his crotch against Spike's ass and speak into his ear. "She's pretty, Spike. You want her?"

Spike kept looking straight ahead, but he ground back against Xander slightly. "What are you playing at, pet?" he asked quietly. "You know I only want you."

"Oh, that's too bad," Xander said, chuckling. "I was thinking we could share her. Don't you think she kind of looks like me? Wouldn't you like to be in the middle? Imagine how that would look, how that would feel." He pressed his erection into Spike.

Spike's eyes drifted shut and he groaned quietly. "You'd do that pet? For me?"

"Yeah, baby, it's all for you - I wouldn't get anything at all out of it," Xander said.

"You're evil," Spike whispered, turning to press his own erection against Xander's. "Get her. Bring her."

Xander tilted his head to kiss Spike lightly on the lips, and then watched as he slipped out of the backstage area, headed for the limo. As soon as Spike left, the majority of the fans did, too. The girl stayed, leaning casually against the wall, her eyes flicking to Xander's. He grabbed a security guard and handed the man an all-access badge, pointing toward the girl. A minute later, she was standing in front of him.

She held the pass in her hand and waved it at him. "What's this for?" she asked in a low, amused voice. Up close she was prettier than he'd thought, with wide eyes and lush lips. Her jaw was slightly square, and she was only a couple of inches shorter than Xander himself.

"You wanna meet Spike?" Xander asked her.

Her smile widened and Xander couldn't help grinning back. "You're Xander, right?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said, liking the vibe he was getting from this girl.

"You're his pimp? I thought your role was a little...different."

"It is," he told her. "We're together."

She nodded. "Thought so. You guys looking for a playmate?" Her eyes twinkled.

"Yeah," he said. "You interested?"

She looped the lanyard of the access pass over her head, running a hand around the back of her neck to pull her hair out from under it. "I'm in. My name's Shane." She held her hand out to Xander.

"Nice to meet you, Shane, wanna fuck?" Xander said, shaking it.

"Nice to meet you, Xander. And, yes. A lot."





Walk the Walk

It took Xander and Shane almost half and hour to work their way through the backstage area, and Xander found that his erection wasn't fading in the least, pressing strongly against the zipper of his soft, brown leather pants. Shane stayed close, and Xander could smell her light perfume. He found himself enjoying the girliness of her. No matter how much he loved Spike and gloried in the sight, sound, taste and feel of him, he still liked girls - their softness and sweetness. As a man who had spent his formative years surrounded by women, he was never going to lose his girl-love.

They made it almost to the door before an assistant ran up with a cell phone, holding it out to Xander. "It's that reporter you promised that interview to," the man said.

Xander sighed and took the phone. He spoke into it for a moment, asking the reporter to hold and led Shane to the limo. Isha opened the back door and ushered them inside before returning to the front of the car. Spike was sprawled across the back seat, drinking a beer. The top two buttons of his black leather trousers were unbuttoned, and his black tee shirt was rucked up a little to expose his pale, chiseled abdomen.

"Hey, love," Spike said as Xander and Shane seated themselves.

Xander leaned across Shane's knees to kiss Spike deeply, slipping a hand into the open fly of his pants and lightly rubbing his cock, which was stone-hard and wet at the tip. Xander pulled back and licked his fingers, grinning when Spike groaned.

"Spike, this is Shane; Shane, Spike." They shook hands gravely and Xander gestured toward Spike with the cell phone. "This is a reporter. You need to answer a few questions." He handed the phone to a suddenly scowling Spike and pressed the intercom button. "Isha, take the long way to the hotel, half an hour at least," he instructed.

Spike gave a long-suffering sigh and took the waiting call off of hold. "Spike," he said.

Xander watched Spike's face for a moment, knowing from his expression that what he was hearing from the other end was nothing new. Spike's interviews had become fairly clockwork, with the questions screened beforehand to make sure nothing too freaky got through. When Spike started detailing his musical influences to the reporter, Xander decided to up the stakes.

He reached over and tangled his fingers into Shane's long hair, gently pulling her face to his. She smiled and leaned into the kiss. Xander closed his eyes and flicked his tongue into her mouth, tasting some sort of sweet girly drink and the slickness of her lip gloss. He heard Spike draw in a sharp breath.

By the time Spike had finished answering the first question and moved on to discussing the current tour, Xander had Shane's blouse unbuttoned and was moving his mouth away from hers and down to her full breasts. He made sure to turn her body so that Spike could see his teeth toying with one nipple while his fingers pinched the other to hardness. Shane's hands were in his hair, her head thrown back, but she hadn't made a sound.

Xander took his hand away from Shane's breast and put it back into Spike's pants, drawing his cock out and stroking it lightly. Within seconds, his hand was joined by Shane's smaller one, and they made a game of it, her fingers chasing his around the silk-over-steel flesh while he moved his mouth from one of her nipples to the other, licking and biting.

Spike answered a question about his new album.

Xander moved again, reaching down to undo Shane's jeans and help her wiggle out of them. Beneath them, she was wearing a plain, white thong, and he left it in place. "Suck him," he instructed, kissing her hard on the mouth. "He tastes good."

Shane grinned and leaned over to take Spike's cock in her mouth, turning so that her ass was toward Xander. The two men locked eyes for a moment, until Spike's slipped closed in ecstacy. Xander returned his attention to Shane, tracing the thin strip of material that ran between her legs. He moved it to the side and slipped the tip of one finger into her folds. She bucked back against his hand, and Xander heard Spike make a tiny, stifled noise. Their eyes met again, and Xander pulled his finger away from Shane and used it to paint Spike's lips with her juices. Spike lapped at the finger appreciatively, his eyes burning.

Xander reached over Shane to start sliding Spike's pants off. Luckily, he had already removed his boots. Once the pants were gone, Xander took Shane's hand and looked at it. Good, short nails. He held her hand in his and used them to cup Spike's balls while rummaging in the limo's small storage compartment with the other. He found what he was looking for and flipped the top of the small tube of lubricant. He pulled Shane's hand back and poured some onto their linked fingers before moving them back between Spike's legs. Spike obligingly scooted down on the seat, spreading his legs. Shane followed, still sucking his cock. She followed Xander's lead, waiting as he slid one finger into Spike's ass, holding still for a moment before pushing in and out a few times. Xander pulled his finger out and took her hand again, sliding back in with his finger and hers together, showing her what to do.

Spike bit back a moan and answered a question about a recently televised performance.

Xander slid two fingers into Spike along with one of Shane's. With his other hand, he pressed two fingers inside of her, leaning down to kiss first the back of her neck, and then the twitching muscles of Spike's abdomen.

Spike hung up the phone and all three of them moaned aloud.

"Jesus Christ, Xander," Spike said. "I have no idea what I just told that woman. God, that's good, honey, suck me harder."

Xander laughed and freed his hands from both of them. "You did fine, Spike, now fuck her and let me get my pants off so I can fuck you."

"Yes, love," Spike said, gently pulling Shane away from his cock so he could kiss her. She smiled and slipped onto her back on the limo seat, wiggling out of her panties as she went. Xander slapped a condom into Spike's hand before kicking off his boots and struggling out of his pants. Spike suited up and was inside Shane in an instant, both of them grunting as he seated himself fully. Xander retrieved the lube and slicked his own cock, then slammed into Spike at full force, ramming himself home.

Shane wrapped her long legs around both of them, and Xander braced his hands on the seat, taking charge, fucking Shane through Spike, each of his thrusts rocking Spike deeper into her, the answering pressure of her heels in his back closing the circuit, starting the chain reaction all over again.

"Oh, God, Xander," Spike said. "She feels so good, you feel so good, can't last."

Xander looked at Shane's face over Spike's shoulder, and she was biting her lip, hard. "Don't hold back, baby," he told her. "This is only the beginning." She nodded, and he could see the tension building in her face. He fucked harder, driving himself into Spike relentlessly, knowing Shane was feeling every bit of their combined force. He watched her face. Her eyes went unfocused as she started to come, and her spasms set Spike off. The chain reaction of Spike's impossibly tight ass clenching on his cock sent Xander over the edge, and he came hard, sinking his teeth into Spike's shoulder.

Somehow, after a few minutes of panting and trembling, they managed to reverse their positions so that Xander was on his back with Spike plastered to his chest. Shane slipped away long enough to pull the condom off of Spike and dispose of it, and then she was back, draping herself over both of them, her cheek against Spike's shoulder, her eyes closed. Xander placed a soft kiss under Spike's ear and wrapped his arms around both of them. It was going to be a good night.




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