SUMMARY: Metafictional exploration of what Spike and Xander's first kiss might have been like over the lifespan of their relationship.
WARNINGS: Spoilers for S7.
DISCLAIMER: These are not my characters. I nicked them from Whedon, ME, Kuzui, Fox, and other corporate fatcats.
NOTES: An outgrowth of the livejournal 'first kiss' meme. Thanks to Anna S., Abbie, Jane, Meg, & Tania for helping me make sense of this.
Angel has Xander by the scruff of the neck. Shirt-hem's cutting off most of his air. Spike leers, licks his lips, eyes burning.
A kiss then, shoved up against the brick wall of the school: Hungry, dreadfully desperate, full of novelty and fear and they'd both come in their pants.
He looks through Xander. All he sees is Angel.
Xander is half-unconscious, starfished over the incongruous four-poster bed, his vision smeary and heart beating way too slow given the circumstances. Spike is little more than a hovering wisp of light in the distance.
Breath of air could bring him over, spread him across Xander, and the kiss would be dreamlike, tasting like tears for Dru and Willow and Cordy until they groaned into each other's mouths and rocked together.
He kisses Willow, later. It's really not the same.
Petulant, overgrown boys. One sprawled on the sofabed, the other bound to a creaking chair.
If ever sexual tension could spark, then ignite, surely this is the time? There's teasing, and mutual dislike, and they're both pretty damn lost on the highway of existence, so there's something to be said for Xander straddling Spike's lap, gripping hard on the ropes, licking Spike's lips until the vampire near-pants, growling in frustration. And it could be Xander's new job, give him a whole new purpose in life to kiss the chipped wonder until he mewls.
Summer of death when Buffy is gone. No one blames Spike, no one talks to Spike. No one blames Xander, everyone talks at Xander.
Maybe this is the moment: Too much drinking on both sides. Meandering tours of cemeteries that don't count as patrols and that studiously avoid that grave in the copse yet always end up there. One more night of sullen carousing, reminiscences that droop like sunflowers, going nowhere, misery shared in the bottom of pint glasses and a few, fumbling gropes that lead to mouth missing mouth, sliding over cheek, yeast and swallowed tears finally matching lips to lip, thickened tongues fumbling together.
A relationship that turns on dislike, distrust, confusion. It knots time together in the strangest of ways.
A bouquet, tossed.
Condolences for Joyce smear into rejection of Anya, almost exactly a year apart. One bunch of flowers that should have been slid into a vase, joining the rest. It's the other that should have been thrown to laughing girls and sniffling demons.
Either moment, both moments: Passions running high, snarling, both of them alone, nearly frothing at the mouth. Both misunderstood, full of loathing for themselves, the other, the world at large. That kiss would be violent, snapping jaws and fingernails digging into scalps, teeth bruising tongues.
It's never going to happen, is it?
Punches, invective, never kisses and endearments. All these moments that could have been, could have forked away like tributaries and carried them off. Elsewhere.
Singing about death and fear. It could happen then, when Spike is still drawn tight with sorrow and guilt, when Xander is choking on unspoken excuses. When grief they thought had settled with the spell's apparent success stirs anew with regret. Shame.
Probably not later, though, when she's even more broken, when Spike has retreated to razor-sharp, as well as -thin, cruelty, when Xander is thick, numbed with fear of what he's gotten himself into. But what a kiss that would be: Spike wants to be touched by someone who hates him, Xander wants to escape the trap he's set for himself. Slow but not languourous, each intent on his own pleasure, almost forgetting the other's there except as a body to hold, a mouth to drink from.
Over the summer, the soul haunts Spike with more than guilt. He's always known guilt, of a sort. It adds that edge to gleeful slaughter that he savored for a century. Rip-eat-drink, knowing you'll feel bad later. Wonder about a girl's unborn children, songs a pubcrawler will never get to sing. It's what could have been but won't ever be that spices blood and glows around his dreams.
He was educated once -- only University College, never good enough for Oxbridge -- and he knew Greek and Latin. He felt tenses of dead languages trembling like jellyfish in a tidepool. Small tremors of inflection making all the difference in action, time, and character.
The soul haunts him with all the cruelty he never had a chance to inflict. The lawyer who managed to stumble into a patch of sunlight. The nurse who smiled, with black eyes and a Galwegian drawl, made him pause too long, remembering Angelus all over again. Xander, whom he never ate, never touched except in rage rather than hunger or desire, barely even cut with years' worth of insults. Never kissed, patted on the head, and turned away from, laughing.
Spike shakes off regret like a retriever shaking the blood from a duck.
Xander's closet, and they can both snicker at the implications fairly pouring forth from *that* word. But Spike is insane and Xander's found himself sunk into the sort of haze he hasn't felt - had thought was impossible to ever feel again - since he dusted Jesse.
There was a time when his palm didn't know the shape and heft of a stake. When ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust was only a weird thing ministers said, or the lyrics to a really bad classic-rock song. When the circulatory system was just the quiz he flunked last week in bio and the most he knew about blood was not to touch the needles washing up on the beach.
So Spike lives in his closet for a while, and then he doesn't, and it's hard for Xander to care one way or the other. Thick, drowsy syrup - Nyquil, bourbon, hell, *maple* - encircles him, dulls his stupid brain even more, slows his heart.
There was one night at the club when he blinked and the haze was gone. All the numbness and swaddling regret dropped away. Pretty Nancy cracks an uncomfortable joke and Xander looks at Spike. Spike's looking back at him. Not insane, not evil - not sane and good, either, just for the record - just: Blue eyes. Bluer than flames, or neon. Lips twisting prettily. Not a smirk, just for a second.
Boy looks at Spike, dark and flushed, life screaming under his skin, eyes glittering black.
One more moment that passes.
It's about the periphery. Spike will never be a champion, Xander won't ever get superpowers.
Xander watches, Spike loves.
Xander also *doesn't* watch, not when it hurts too much. When he'd rather pretend that he's saved Anya from a miserable life, that bringing Buffy back is a great idea for friendly goodtimes on the scale of putting on a show in the barn.
Spike also resists love, when he has to, when he needs to. When it's easier to get what he wants by whispering like a snake in Buffy's ear while he fingers, by stringing Angelus up, by turning his back on Dawn.
It's about weakness and error. Both of which are, after all, human. Making the most of both, with what you've got.
So when Spike leaps for a writhing, yowling Xander and Hell's own favorite fundamentalist zealot is knocked away, that's when it could happen. Pain and life throttling them both, heat of battle gone fever-high and warriors kiss each other all the time. Homer says so.
Funny, then, that it doesn't happen. A pierced eye leaks fluid sharper-smelling than blood, bitter as acetyline. A souled vampire somersaults and an ordinary boy passes out.
It's the next day. Sky clear of clouds, sun bright, everything pure and hospital-white. Astringent.
Xander's eye socket throbs. Licks of oily, diesel-stinking pain wedge their way through each tiny fracture, then pool, flaring, where his optic nerve just hangs, sputtering out into a void.
Everything's gone white. The way a dog sees the world.
In the hospital room, Spike hovers there, another wraith; ever since the factory, Xander always sees Spike whenever he's concussed. White steam that condenses, looks a lot like Spike. Dark patches for eyes and brows. Extra wisp of steam to mimic the scar.
Spike looks at Xander and sees failure, weakness, fear. Sees what he couldn't prevent, how he's in no way their strongest warrior, and never will be. Sees everything he can't let himself be. But he doesn't see an invalid. Xander is always going to get up to his feet, run his hand through his hair, and keep trying like the damn fool he is.
Xander smiles, slowly, absently, like a child remembering a naughty joke when Spike eases down next to him.
On his side, cold fingertip tracing bandages and tape, easing out pain, combing filthy hair.
Xander bites his lip, realizing this is no concussion. More than a concussion, that is. Remembers waking to snow, how his breath blew out silvery and visible. It's like that.
Turning his head, he exhales - Spike.
When their lips meet, noses bump, and Xander squeaks against the pain that slices into his skull, and Spike apologizes.
With tongue and lips, that is.
Not gentle, but careful. So careful, like surgeons and nurses, and Xander can't bear any more clinical caution. He murmurs deep in his throat, turning on his side, clutching solid flesh too cool to be real. Cold as he feels, impotent and corpselike. Tastes ashes, beer, dead flowers abandoned on overgrown graves. Open his mouth, nipping at the quicksilver tongue tracing charms on his palate.
And Spike runs out of sorries, which he's never been any good at anyway, settles into kissing a hot tongue and fever-dry lips, sucking them slick and fat until they throb between his teeth. Xander tastes just like the soul and demon agreed he would: sharp like spring and thick, woody, strong. And sad. Pain tastes like back-country moonshine, acidic, almost toxic. Xander squrims alongside him, breath whinnying through his nose and Spike feels a keening build up against the back of his tonsils and kisses more deeply, pushes his tongue against Xander's and wonders just what the hell this is going to accomplish. Xander can barely see, and Spike's not loving, but there's one good eye and a pretty brunette mewling in pain, and it's enough for now.
Knees nudge, hands grasp and pet and stroke as they kiss, faster, rougher, breathless and running against the clock. Lips mashed against teeth, caught on fang, dervish-whirl of sensation spiralling drunkenly through twin chests and guts. Rocking in tandem, heads tilting as tongues slide over cheeks, map the arch of a brow, the dip of a jaw, and they're both shaking, kissing first shallow, then deep, then however the hell they manage to get mouth on mouth and it's something close to CPR, resuscitation, comfort.
Fuck of it all is, nothing changes. Xander doesn't get his eye back. Spike never becomes a champion. One dies, one survives, and that kiss might have just been a morphine-fuelled dream.