Takes place during Season 4
I owe a special thanks to wonderful Juliaabra for beta reading this story and improving it greatly. Additionally, thank you to lovely Jane Davitt for her sweet encouragement.
"Well, you certainly can't pay me to do it," Xander fumed, glaring at Giles and Buffy. "I will never, ever pretend that Spike and I are in love just so you can lure some demon out and kill it."
When Buffy had called to tell him that there was a meeting at Giles' apartment about a new threat, Xander hadn't realized that the threat was going to be to his sense of masculinity. Now he sat on Giles' couch, doing his best to ignore the entreaties from his friends seated nearby. It was a bit harder ignoring Spike's smirking by the door, but Xander had more practice at that.
Giles took off his glasses and began polishing them. "This isn't just some demon, Xander. The Hanasha dates back almost two thousand years and is responsible for the deaths of a countless number of people. On February fourteenth of each year, it emerges to kill lovers in retaliation for Saint Valentine's murder of its mate."
Anya piped up. "Most people think that Valentine was all hearts and flowers. He was a bit before my time, but from the stories I heard, he could wield a mean axe."
For a moment, everyone stared at her, before Giles cleared his throat. "Be that as it may, tomorrow is the fourteenth and the Hanasha is quite dangerous."
"How do you know this demon's going to come to Sunnydale? There's a whole world out there," Xander asked. When his friends looked at him as if he were an alien who'd just arrived from Planet Moron, he backed off of that argument. "Right, Hellmouth."
"You know that Willow, Anya, or I would do it, if we could," Buffy said to Xander. "It's not our fault that the demon is only attracted to men who are in love."
Xander jumped on her statement. "Hah! If it's only attracted to men in love, then Spike and I are never going to fool it. We hate each other."
"That's not what you said that night in the basement," Spike said, fluttering his eyes at Xander.
"What night in the basement?" Anya asked suspiciously.
"There wasn't one." Xander threw a look of disgust at Spike who contrived to look hurt.
"So much for respecting me in the morning,' Spike murmured.
Giles valiantly tried to get the conversation back on topic. "Willow, Tara, and I will be performing a spell that should enable you to successfully convince the demon that you're a couple."
Willow, seated next to Xander, leaned over, and placed her hand on his arm. "Please, Xander." She glanced toward Tara for a moment, then looked back at him, her eyes wide. "It would mean so much to me if you'd do this."
Xander sighed. "No fair giving me the puppy dog eyes, Willow." With an air of resignation, he stood up and faced Giles. "Fine, I'll do it."
Pushing away from the door, Spike strode forward. "What about me? What do I get?"
Buffy stood to meet his advance. "How about three hundred dollars and a whole bunch of me not staking you?"
"Six hundred," Spike countered.
"Done," said Buffy.
Smiling triumphantly because he would've done it gladly for two, Spike turned to face Giles. "Now what? You going to do your mumbo jumbo?"
"It's a bit more involved than that, Spike."
Spike waved his hand, disinterested. "Just get it over with before I change my mind."
An hour later, as the smoke and incense cleared, Spike and Xander looked at each, before shifting their eyes to the floor.
"Is that it?" Xander asked Giles who nodded.
"Thought you said it'd make all demons think we're in love," Spike said. "Demon here, and I don't think it."
"That's because you're part of the spell," explained Willow. "Besides, it's really only the groundwork. The two of you will have to do the rest."
Xander's eyes shot up at that remark. "What do you mean when you say that we'll have to do the rest?"
"Well, it's not going to work if you two don't act all couply."
"Wait!" shrieked Anya. "No one said anything about Xander giving Spike orgasms."
"Oh, for--," Spike began while Xander started making loud "eww" sounds.
"I don't believe that will be necessary, Anya," Giles said loudly. "They simply need to be seen together in public. Perhaps in a setting that evokes thoughts of romance."
Buffy did her best to suppress her grin, but couldn't quite hide the amusement in her voice. "Giles, do you mean they need to go out on a date?"
Xander and Spike looked at each other for a moment before they both began cursing vigorously.
Tara, quiet throughout all the proceedings, whispered in Willow's ear.
"At least they're in agreement about something."
* * *
The following night, on Valentine's Day, Xander opened the basement door to find Spike standing there clad in his usual outfit of black jeans, black t-shirt, and black duster. The only thing unusual about him was that he was holding a bouquet of roses.
"What are those?" Xander asked, totally dumbfounded.
"Flowers, you dolt," Spike said as he thrust the bouquet at Xander. "What did you think they were?"
"I know they're flowers. I'm not an idiot." At Spike's look, Xander said emphatically, "I'm not. What I meant was why are you giving them to me?"
Spike rolled his eyes. "You're my date, aren't you? Valentine's date, at that. Means I bring you flowers."
Xander still looked puzzled, so Spike added, "Besides, you're the girl in this relationship."
Raising his eyes from the roses in his hand, Xander glared. "I'm not the girl."
"Have to be. I'm the one taking you out, and I'm the manly one here, and...and I brought you flowers, he said with a note of finality, as if this proved his point.
"I'm just as manly as you. I've got plenty of muscles."
Spike's eyes scanned down Xander's body. "Muscles only count toward being manly if you've got them in the right place."
To hide his flush, Xander turned away and headed for where he kept his dishes. He spent a few minutes looking through the cupboards above the counter for something to put the bouquet in before finally resorting to bending over and searching beneath the sink. Snatching an old coffee can, he straightened and spun triumphantly to show off his prize, but stopped suddenly when he realized what Spike had been doing.
"You were staring at my ass!"
Spike blinked rapidly, and then took a step back before replying indignantly. "I was not."
"You were. I saw you."
"No. Wasn't. Just noticed you're wearing new trousers, is all."
Xander glanced down at the crisp black slacks he wore. "Yeah, I bought them today."
Reaching out, Spike stroked Xander's collar with a finger. "Shirt's new, too, isn't it?"
Xander's breath caught in his throat at Spike's nearness, so he nodded instead.
Gliding forward, Spike moved closer to Xander so that their bodies were only separated by inches.
"Did you get gussied up for me, Xander?" Spike asked in a whispered breath that caressed Xander's face.
Again, he nodded and Spike gave him a feral smile before stepping back, ending the strange mood that had enveloped them.
"Good. Have me a reputation of discriminating taste. Wouldn't want you to ruin it."
"You discriminating?" Xander asked disbelievingly, his voice still a little shaky. "The vampire who dated Harmony? Anyone with a brain rates higher than she does."
"Hey! I was at a low point when I ran into her and...Oh, to hell with it. We'd better be going or we'll be late for our reservations."
Spike turned and headed for the door leaving Xander to stare at him in shock before hurrying after him.
"Spike? You made reservations?"
* * *
As they walked down streets and alleys, Xander examined the device in his hands.
"You're sure this is going to work?"
Spike shrugged. "Not sure at all. Watcher gave me one for each of us. He and the Slayer will be near, but not close enough to scare off the Hanasha. When it shows up, we push the red button and the Slayer will come and do her bit."
"Maybe we should test it."
"Much as I'd like to have the Slayer come running at my beck and call, might not be a good idea. Hate to have her pissed at me and show up a mite late when the Hanasha's at my throat. Besides...we're here."
Xander hastily slid the device into his pocket and looked up at his surroundings. His jaw dropped open.
"You're taking me to Willy's?"
"Yeah. They've got this Valentine's 'two pints of blood for the price of one' special going."
"But I don't drink blood!"
"Good. More for me, then."
Hurrying forward, Spike opened the door for Xander. When Xander gave him a wide-eyed look, he realized what he'd done and almost closed it again in confusion. Finally, he settled for impatiently motioning Xander forward and following him inside.
Willy came around from his normal spot behind the bar to meet them.
"Spike, I've got your table all ready, just like you asked." Willy looked past Xander. "Where's your date?"
Reaching over, Spike put his arm around Xander's shoulders and pulled him close to his side. Xander let out a tiny squeak, but remembered in time what they were supposed to be doing, and managed to keep from throwing any punches.
"This here's my date," Spike said. Then, more aggressively, "You got a problem with that?"
Willy shook his head. "No. Not at all. In fact I always thought the two of you would make a cute couple."
Willy turned his back to lead them to their table. Xander and Spike shared a brief look of horror before following him.
It was obvious that Willy had gone to some trouble to prepare for their arrival since the table he led them to was actually clean. A red rose stood in a vase and, with a flourish, Willy lit a candle.
When Spike pulled out a chair for Xander, Xander gave him a hard stare, then purposefully went to the chair on the opposite side of the table and sat down. With a shrug, Spike sat down as well.
Handing them each a soiled paper menu, Willy gave them a broad smile before returning to the bar.
"So," Spike asked after a minute of silence. "What would you like?"
"You mean besides for all of this to be a very bad dream?"
Spike folded his arms, leaned back in his chair, and stared at Xander. "Isn't going to work if we don't make an effort. Don't think your little witch friend would be too happy with that."
Letting out a huff of breath, Xander nodded. "You're right. Maybe we should try to find something we have in common." Xander thought for a moment. "What's your favorite television show?"
"Never seen it. Mine's Star Trek. The classic one."
"Classic geek is what you are."
Back and forth it went, comparing foods, colors, movies, songs, and sports, but the only thing that matched were the insults they tossed at one another. Conversation seemed exhausted and they hadn't even ordered yet, when Spike had an idea.
"Might be going 'bout this the wrong way. Who do you hate?"
"You mean besides people currently sitting at this table?" asked Xander. At Spike's nod, he continued. "Well, I'm not too fond of Buffy, Willow, and Giles right now for getting me into this. But since Buffy and Willow are my best friends, I'll have to say Giles."
"See – something in common. I hate the Watcher, too. How'd you like to get back at the git?"
Xander nodded cautiously. With a grin, Spike dug into his pocket and emerged with a credit card. A credit card embossed with the name of Rupert Giles.
"Nicked it. Figured he could pay for this little jaunt."
Xander smiled. Things were definitely looking up.
* * *
"I hate him. Hate him, hate him, hate him," Xander said, while filling up his glass for the third time from the bottle of the best whiskey Willy had.
"No one can hate him more than I do," proclaimed Spike, putting his empty glass down on the table with a thud.
"I do. I hate him the most."
"I've hated him longer."
Xander thought about that for a moment and then conceded the point.
"What I don't understand," he said, "is the way girls seem to fall all over him. I mean have you seen his hair? It's stupid. It sort of stands straight up."
"Wouldn't know a good time if it bit him on the arse, either. Thinks there's nothing like a good brood."
"But Buffy...she thought he was so great."
"See, that proves Drusilla was crazy," Xander said, taking a gulp of whiskey and letting the fire scorch its way down his throat. "You're a much better catch than Angel. Prettier, too."
Lifting his glass for another sip, Xander noticed Spike's stillness across the table and thought about what he'd just said. Carefully controlling the panic starting to rise in him, he placed the glass back on the wooden surface.
"Spike, how many drinks have I had?"
"Is that enough to pretend that I'm really, really drunk and I didn't actually say what I just said?"
Before Spike could answer, a large, brown demon with black spikes protruding from its face stalked to the table and began growling. Xander watched as Spike growled something back. The snarl fest continued until suddenly the demon reached out and grabbed Xander and started pulling him away.
In a flash, Spike leapt on the demon, and Xander was knocked to the side, sliding into a wall. With fumbling fingers, Xander reached into his pocket and pushed the panic button, calling Giles and Buffy to the rescue. Less than a minute later, Buffy hurtled through the doorway.
Quickly assessing the situation, she pulled the demon off of Spike, who was currently being throttled against the bar. Swinging her sword, she sliced the assailant across the belly, cleaving it in two.
Giles, still panting from running to catch up with the Slayer, approached where she stood over her victim.
"I killed the Hanasha demon," she stated proudly.
Giles shook his head. "No, you didn't."
Buffy gave the corpse a little kick. "Looks pretty dead to me."
"That's not the Hanasha."
Giles turned to look at Spike, who'd recovered from his ordeal and was currently squatting next to Xander, poking and prodding him to see if he was okay. Xander was wincing a bit in response, but otherwise seemed unharmed.
Satisfied that his date was going to live, Spike stood and held out a hand to help Xander, who rose gingerly to his feet.
"What happened here, Spike?" Giles demanded.
"Fellow saw Harris and asked if I'd share with him. Didn't want to take no for an answer and decided he'd help himself."
"Yeah, if Spike hadn't acted, I'd probably be snack food right about now."
Quietly Spike said, "When he said "sharing" he wasn't talking about eating you."
"Oh." Xander thought about this for a second before his face heated up. "Oh!"
"Despite this occurrence," Giles said to the two men, "I expect you to proceed with the charade that you're in love. The Hanasha must still be eliminated."
"Fine," said Spike. He turned to face Xander. "Well, if we're done with the entertainment portion of the date, how 'bout you and I go someplace a mite quieter?"
Xander nodded and they walked out of Willy's together.
Buffy frowned as they left. It must be her imagination, she decided. Spike and Xander hadn't really been holding hands, had they?
* * *
They'd walked for several minutes without saying a word. Xander wasn't too sure where Spike was leading them and he wasn't even sure if Spike knew where they were heading. It was only when they reached the edge of the cemetery that their destination dawned on him.
Spike was taking him to his place.
He knew Spike had moved into a crypt when he'd left the basement, but Xander'd never been there. Now they were on this stupid fake date that kept feeling less fake every minute and Spike had been all brave, protecting him, and they were holding hands, and heading toward Spike's place and...and Xander decided he couldn't take it anymore. He dug in his heels and refused to take another step.
Spike spun around when he felt the resistance and his eyebrow arched.
"Um...nothing. It's just that it's a nice night. Can't we stop and enjoy it?" Xander knew that sounded feeble and all kinds of lame, even to his own ears, but Spike seemed to buy it.
"Sure," he said. "Is a nice night. Stars are out."
"You mean those twinkly things up in the sky? They are pretty bright, aren't they?"
Spike shook his head. "Not like they used to be when I was a lad. Remember visiting relatives in the country. Stars were so bright they seemed like blazing little fireflies hovering right out of reach. My cousin, Henry, taught me a few constellations."
Xander looked at Spike, whose eyes were still focused on the heavens. "You know astronomy?"
"What? You think being a vampire's all about the blood and the kill?" Spike laughed ruefully, "Well, you'd mostly be right, but doesn't mean we don't look up once in a while. Drusilla loved the stars."
"Spike, you do realize that you shouldn't talk about your ex when you're on a date, right?"
"Why? Jealous?" Spike asked, smirking.
"Jealous? Hah! Why would I be jealous of Drusilla...I mean why would I be jealous...I mean.... Gosh those stars are bright."
Still smirking, Spike eased himself down on the grass and patted the ground next to him.
"Best way to see the stars is on your back."
After a moment's hesitation, Xander joined Spike, who quietly began pointing out different constellations and giving a brief synopsis of the myth behind each name. Occasionally, he would grasp Xander's arm, doing his best to line it up with the star so that Xander would know exactly which one he was talking about.
The murmuring words began to lose their meaning, as Xander became more and more aware of Spike laying next to him, Spike's firm thigh nudging his, his hand skimming over Xander's chest as he leaned over to indicate a constellation, his cool breath skating across Xander's ear, and cheek, and jaw, like ghostly kisses.
Spike was in a middle of the myth of Cassiopeia when he halted and stared at the boy next to him in frightened awe.
"You're heart...it's pounding. Pounding so loud I can hear it. Practically feel it. And your blood's rushing around, throbbing. Luring me. Wanting me. Daring me to taste. To take."
Xander heard a low growl, as Spike leaned over and slowly began to lower his mouth toward Xander's lips. Xander held his breath in anticipation. Then he heard another low growl, but this time he knew that it wasn't coming from Spike. It was coming from the bushes nearby.
"Spike, we can't!"
"We can," Spike purred, coming closer.
"No, I mean we can't! There's something out there."
The panic in Xander's voice penetrated this time, and Spike rolled to his feet. When a large blue-skinned demon stalked out of the bushes, snapping its claws, he was ready, and Xander was frantically pushing the button to summon Buffy.
The fight was short, brutal, and bloody. By the time Buffy arrived, sword in hand, the demon lay dead at Spike's feet.
"Aww," she pouted. "You already killed the Hanasha."
"No, he didn't," said Giles, joining them.
Spike looked at Giles in shock. "You mean this isn't the Hanasha either?" At Giles' negative reply, Spike threw up his hands in exasperation. "Why the bloody hell do we keep getting attacked by demons?"
Buffy and Giles looked at Xander, who shuffled his feet. Spike noticed and cocked his head to one side and looked at Xander, too, but with confusion on his face.
"It's you?" he asked.
"Hey! It's not my fault that I'm a demon magnet."
"Thought that was just Red's spell."
"She just kind of amplified it."
"And you didn't think of maybe warning me?" Spike said angrily.
"Xander, why do you and Spike have grass stains on your clothes?" Buffy asked, but was completely ignored by the pair engrossed in glaring at each other.
"What was I supposed to say? Be careful because crazy, evil demons are attracted to me?"
"Would've been a good start!"
"I thought you might've figured it out on your own, Spike," Xander spat. "After all, it seems I've been attracting murderous demons all night."
The words seemed to hang in the air between them, chilling it. It was only broken by Willow and Tara's arrival.
"Giles, I'm so glad our locating spell worked and we found you." Willow paused and glanced at the others, not sure what was going but fully aware that something was wrong. "I just talked to Cordy. Angel and Wesley were patrolling in L.A. earlier this evening and were attacked. It was the Hanasha. They killed it so we don't have to worry anymore."
Putting a hand on Willow's shoulder, Giles gave a slight smile.
"Good, very good." He glanced at Xander and Spike briefly, before turning his gaze toward Buffy. "I suppose we all might as well return to our homes."
Buffy shrugged. "Guess so. Xander, you want to ride with us?"
"Perhaps Xander should--" Giles began.
"Sure, nothing keeping me here," Xander interrupted.
"That's right. Go back to your friends," snarled Spike.
As the Scoobies walked away, leaving Spike standing in the cemetery alone, Buffy furrowed her brow in puzzlement.
"Wait a minute. Why did the Hanasha attack Angel and Wesley?"
* * *
It had been exactly two weeks and one day since Xander had last seen Spike. A week that involving stuffing the bouquet of roses in the trash after returning home, then digging them out again, only to stuff them back in and dig them back out the following day. Even when the roses deserved to be tossed, dark and withered, dropping petals, Xander kept them for a second week until they were mostly sticks.
The sun was just starting to go down on the fifteenth day when Xander found Spike's crypt using the directions Giles had given him and banged on the door.
Spike opened the door and automatically smiled at Xander before quickly hiding it beneath a scowl of annoyance.
"What do you want, Harris?"
Xander's answer was to thrust a box of chocolates at Spike, who took them, dumbfounded.
"Chocolates," said Xander helpfully. "You eat them."
"I know that. I'm not an--" Spike stopped, remembering a similar conversation a little more than two weeks previously. "What's this about?" he asked suspiciously.
"Nothing. Just...I was wondering if you wanted to go out with me tonight."
Spike opened his mouth, closed it, and then opened it again.
"Have you lost your nut? We hate each other."
Xander nodded. "You're right. We do. But I was thinking that we might also like each other. A lot." When Spike continued to stare at him, Xander shrugged. "Besides, I couldn't let today go by without at least asking."
"What's so special 'bout today?"
"It's Sadie Hawkins Day," Xander explained with a grin. "You did say that I was the girl."
Spike looked at the chocolates in his hand, then looked back at Xander. Finally, he began to smile. Xander smiled back.
"Why don't you come in and wait while I change?" he said.