All About Spike - Plain Version

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No Power on Earth
By Circe

Rated: NC-17

Spoilers: Set in the summer after Season 3.

Summary: So, you wanted more details on what Xander did on his summer vacation … Think Catcher in the Rye meets gay vampire porn.

Author’s Note:
The song lyrics are from “Faith in Love” by Devil Doll. You may recognize it as the panther crawl song from The Harsh Light of Day and it’s pretty much essential listening during a certain scene in this story. I highly recommend downloading it to enhance your reading pleasure.

Acknowledgments:
No Power on Earth wouldn’t have been finished without the support of all my friends at Band of Buggered and LiveJournal. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm and encouragement.

I also owe a massive debt of gratitude to cerdd_gwen. Not only is she the best damn beta in the business, she’s brilliant, sexy, and went to high school in Oxnard, California!! So local colour tidbits come from Tour Guide Gwen, because never did this Toronto girl feel more Eastern Canadian than when she was trying to write Ventura County. Thanks also to my Spander Sexpert, Beamer.



From The Freshman:

Xander:  Basically, I got as far as Oxnard and the engine fell out of my car, and that was literally.  So, I ended up washing dishes at 'The Fabulous Ladies Night Club' for about a month and a half while I tried to pay for the repairs.  No one really bothered me or even spoke to me until one night when one of the male strippers called in sick and no power on this earth will make me tell you the rest of that story.  Suffice to say I traded my car in for one that wasn't entirely made of rust, came trundling back home to the arms of my loving parents, where everything was exactly as it was except I sleep in the basement and I have to pay rent.  How's college?

Buffy:    Male strippers?

Xander:  No power on this earth!



Luck Be a Lady—Or at the Very Least, an Effeminate Man in a Dress

Déjà vu.

Possibly his least favourite phrase in the English language. Well, not counting “Wedgie!” or “Xander, are you gay?”

(For the last time, Auntie Joanie: get your pride on somewhere else. Pick on Cousin Billy for a change, why don’tcha?)

So excepting those two—which Xander is convinced are the least favourite phrases of every male in America—déjà vu, without a doubt, takes the prize.

’Cause really? Not liking the sense that he’s been here before. Not at all. Especially since “here” is currently a liquor-soaked dive on the outskirts of Nowhere, USA, and the locals at the bar aren’t exactly what you’d call “savoury.” In fact, there will be no savouring of this experience. Maybe some of whatever the opposite is, but definitely no savoring. Or relishing. None of that, either.

He’s babbling. Anything to keep his mind off of why this place seems just so familiar.

Xander crosses to the bar, feels his sneakers sticking to the grungy floorboards with every step. He puts on his winningest smile and shines it on the aging biker chick behind the counter.

“Hello, ma’am,” Alexander Harris says. “You wouldn’t be looking to hire, would you?”

Why the déjà vu?

Because this is the fifth such place he’s been to in two days. Same filth, same clientele, same aging biker chick behind the counter.

Only this time the difference is, she says “yes”.

He doesn’t realize it’s a male strip club until after he gets the job.



Come For the Chicken Wings, Stay For the Studs

What’s a bright young thing like him doing working in a hole like this? Here’s a clue: it’s got four tires, a steering wheel, and one very fucked up engine.

Until he makes some serious cash to pay Joey, the scariest-looking mechanic in Oxnard, Xander’s pretty much stuck here. Of course, he could hitchhike home, abandon his uncle’s car, and spend the rest of the summer rotting in his parents’ basement, but the latter’s the only date on his dance card for the rest of the year. Surprisingly enough, he’s not into the concept of entering purgatory a month early.

So it’s dishpan hands for Momma Harris’s boy. That’s right—not even the fine men and women of Ventura County want to see Xander naked. The proprietors of The Fabulous Ladies Night Club just hand him an apron and never even ask to see his “wares”.

It’s a relief. Really.

It doesn’t take long for Xander to fall into a routine. There’s a motel attached to the bar, and he sleeps on a sagging double bed with a stained mattress that’s seen better days. Probably worse nights, too, but even Xander’s intrepid imagination shies away from that one. He’s got to sleep on it, after all.

He’s big with the bitterness about how Willow and Buffy are all excited about college in the fall. Okay, so maybe Buffy isn’t quite as excited as Willow, but he doesn’t think anyone could be as excited as Willow—the phrase “Waiting her entire young life for this moment” could have been coined specifically for his best friend. Truth be told, it’s one of the main reasons Xander left on this road trip from hell in the first place.

Buffy and Will and everyone who hasn’t been eaten by the Mayor of Doom are going to be freshmen. Cordy is going to L.A. to become a star, and knowing her, she’ll bitch her way to the top. And Xander? Xander will be going from door to door, dropping off pizzas. Yes, he’s stepped over the threshold of adulthood, and boy is it going to stink like pepperoni.

But first, he’s got to get his car fixed so he can get home to that exhilarating future, and getting his car fixed requires money. Hence the job.

In his first week of work, Xander breaks sixteen glasses, drops a platter of leftover chicken wings, and manages to offend one of the waitresses with his half-assed attempts at flirtation. It’s touch and go, but his biker chick boss, Maddie (stands for Mad Dog? Mad Cow? Just plain mad?) doesn’t fire him outright. She puts him on probation: screw up again and he’s out.

The place isn’t so bad. One of the only good strip clubs in the area, its main competition comes from The Spearmint Rhino in Oxnard proper. The Rhino is the kinda place Xander would have wanted to go to had all his friends not been girls. Willow once expressed academic interest in going to The Brass Rail in Sunnydale, but there was no way Xander was going to oogle naked women with Willow in tow. Sometimes he really wishes he had more guy friends. And no, Giles doesn’t count.

The Fabulous Ladies Night Club boasts a stable (if there’s a more appropriate word, Xander can’t think of it) of about five guys who rotate shifts throughout the week. It’s not always male strip tease—Thursdays are karaoke, for example, and on Fridays a local dj comes in the play—but for the most part, it’s the g-strings that bring the crowds in.

He’s met all of the strippers by now, and they’re all nice, welcoming. A few have hit on him, but that’s no biggie, he can deal. The waitresses are cute; the kitchen staff mostly Hispanic and therefore incomprehensible. It’s only the boss he’s had trouble charming.

And speak of the Devil. On his second Tuesday, Xander’s up to his ears in soap suds and nacho grease when the Mad Dog sticks her head into the kitchen.

“You, Harris. Get your ass over here, would’ya?” All remnants of dignity have long since been washed down the drain with the barbecue sauce.

Xander removes his apron and hair net and follows his boss out through the kitchen to the dressing room—an empty storeroom with a mirror, a battered old clothes rack, and a couple of folding chairs that have seen better days, most likely during cage matches in the WWF.

Ricky—real name Willard, lifts weights, has highlites, and is gayer than a tangerine—slumps on one of these chairs, looking a little sallow around the tan line.

“Ricky ain’t feelin’ too well,” Mad Dog tells him, shoving a few bills into his hand. “Go to the drug store and get him something. He’s on in an hour.”

“But it’s pouring out”—which it is—“And my car’s wrecked”—piece of shit—“And I’m in the middle of a load of dishes”—every boss appreciates a conscientious employee.

“Can’t spare anyone else. Get a move on, Harris, or I’ll find some other guy to scrub my pans.”

Hmm. Apparently not.



Highway to Hell

Xander trudges down the side of the dark highway towards the distant glow of the truck stop. It’s really miserable out and pretty soon the rain’s pouring down his body so hard he can barely see to keep his footing on the gravel by the side of the road. After about ten minutes of this, headlights loom out of the darkness, blinding him further. He stumbles to a halt as the car whooshes past, leaving stars in his vision and a waft of sound from the soulful vocals of Justin Timberlake.

He hears the music and regards it as a symbol of freedom; it reminds Xander of how stoked he was to leave Sunnydale in the first place. This trip is supposed to be about venturing out into the great unknown, away from the girls, just one guy on his own in the greatest country on Earth, looking for adventure. And if he wants to listen to N’Sync on his own time, that’s between him and the purple mountained majesty of America’s open roads. Oz can just cry him a river if he doesn’t like it.

He’s shocked from this reverie by the screaming roar of something big coming up behind him, fast. Whirling around, heart in throat, Xander is rewarded by a flying spray of muck and muddy water, kicked up by the passage of a huge old car, so black it’s nearly invisible in the misty gloom.

He yells and shakes his fist, but the tail lights are already fading into the distance, and the last throb of the booming bass is now nearly imperceptible above the drumming of the pounding rain.

Is this part of the great adventure? Will he get back to Sunnydale in the fall and spin tales of California’s rural wastelands? Will this story—a dark and stormy night, a flu-ridden exotic dancer, a trek down a deserted highway—make for the same chick appeal as the exploits of UC Sunnydale freshmen with their summer breaks of European backpacking, Amsterdam red light districts, and Berlin dance clubs?

Xander thinks not. Dishpan hands and looming unemployment tend to rank low on the score-o-meter.

The neon blaze of the truck stop is comforting, promising Twinkies, shelter, and possibly some gum, flavour undecided. When he gets there, the parking lot’s empty but for a smattering of activity by the all-night McDonald’s and a few cars near the main store.

As Xander passes, he notices the monster that splashed him on the way here. The windows are absolutely filthy and the license plates appear to be MIA. Plus, there’s no one around, yet the driver’s side door is wide open in total disregard of the weather.

Xander peers inside the murky interior and sees nothing of interest. The car smells musty laced with funk, not a scent he cares to overanalyze. The backseat is piled with crap—empty liquor bottles, ripped black t-shirts, a North American road map, and some beat-up Vonnegut paperbacks.

He’s pretty grossed out by whoever this slob is, but he’s also pissed at getting soaked out there on the road. So Xander fishes into his pocket and pulls out the key to his motel room. He’s about to set metal to paint job when a voice behind him snaps, “What the fuck are you doing?”

A thin girl is standing there with her hands on her hips, giving him an evil eye filtered through layers of cosmetics. Xander guesses she was going for “Goth-Skank” and ended up with “cheap trick.” Harsh, but hey, he calls ’em like he sees ’em.

“This your ride?” he asks, dropping the key back into his pocket and pretending like he’s used to checking out vintage cars in truck stops all the time.

“What the fuck is it to you?”

Xander holds up his hands. “Whoa, no need for the cussing. Just looking. I’m a … uh … car guy. That is, I like cars.” The girl gives him another death stare, but it doesn’t deter him from asking again, “This yours?”

There’s a pause before she answers, “I’m a hitcher. Guy picked me up a few miles back.” Her pupils are funny and she looks whacked out of her mind. Not gonna be any good conversation here.

“Oh.”

A white van careens down the exit ramp alongside the parking lot and swerves into a space twenty feet away. Both Xander and the Skank watch as seven very large men get out.

Part of Xander thinks it’s kind of funny that he experiences a surge of panic at the sight. He’s faced hundreds of vampires, Angelus, a giant preying mantis, a prom date with Anya, for God’s sake—and still the arrival of bigger guys triggers the “hide your man boobs from the bullies” reflex ingrained since grade school.

Another part of him wonders what these guys are doing here. That’s the part that’s been patrolling with Buffy for three years. But Xander shrugs this off. An empty car and a van full of jerks: nothing slay-worthy here. Strange things may be afoot at the Circle K, but in California, they always are.

He tears his attention away and looks back at the girl. “So, it’s, uh, really raining.”

“Huh?” She stares at him like he’s insane.

Which at this point is a distinct possibility. Xander gives up and heads into the store, leaving her standing there. “Loser,” he hears her say.



Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Xander stands by the magazines and browses while the guy at the pharmacy looks in the back for more of the flu stuff in the yellow box. He’s just checking out the latest Maxim when the bell dings to announce that someone else has entered the store.

Glancing up, Xander sees a flash of blond hair and leather stalking towards the alcohol. The owner of the black car? He considers scoping the guy out, but decides against abandoning Sarah Michelle Gellar and her bikini. Curiousity is one thing, the need to purge a week of baby oil and cock rings from his fragile little mind is quite another.

As he flips through the magazine, he can hear rustling and thumping from the nearby aisle; it sounds like half the stuff on the shelves is being knocked onto the floor. He hesitates. The shop clerk is still in the back—should Xander play good Samaritan and tell the blond guy to cut it out? But before he can make up his mind, the guy heads to the cash with an armful of booze.

“He’s just in the back,” Xander calls out. “Probably won’t be a sec—” Ignoring him, the guy vaults over the counter and helps himself to several cartons of cigarettes. “Hey!”

A slow turn and stare, and Xander gets his first clear look.

“Holy crap!” Xander drops the magazine to the floor and stumbles backwards, hitting the display of slowly-rotating wieners. “Spike!”

The bell dings again and with a feeling of impending doom Xander glances up at the security mirror on the wall. If one counts reflections, he is the only person in the shop. If one counts bodies, he is in serious trouble.

“Holy crap!”



Déjà Vu Redux (Or is That Still Just Called Déjà Vu?)

No one moves.

“Was wonderin’ when you boys would make your appearance,” Spike says. He’s still got an armload of contraband and Xander's struck by the incongruity of the vampire’s conversational tone and the coiled tension in his slim body. He notices that Spike’s free hand is clenching and unclenching, and that he’s rocking slightly back and forwards on the balls of his feet.

He’s seen this before, and if memory serves, what follows is waking up a hostage with a splitting headache.

Crap. Of all the truck stops, in all the world, why’d William the Bloody have to waltz into this one?

The vamps from the parking lot—not slay-worthy, eh dumbass—have flanked the exit, and it’s clear they’ve come to make trouble. Or to stop it. At this point, Xander’s none to clear about whom he’s supposed to be rooting for.

“We know why you’re here, Spike,” their apparent leader, a brawny vamp in game face, spits out, “and we ain’t gonna let you do it.”

“You think you can mess with us and get away with it?” says another in a plaid shirt.

Spike slowly tilts his head one way and then the other, easing his neck. He flexes his hands, cracks his knuckles. Xander’s stomach drops. He knows from experience what’s coming next. “Well, actually, yeah.”

Everything happens at once. Spike leaps up onto the counter and begins throwing bottles at the vamps, all the while shouting obscenities. The vampires charge towards him and one of them goes down in a cloud of dust as Spike whips a wooden stake out of his boot and whips it directly into his heart.

Xander ducks down behind a giant display of peanut butter and, peeking out from between the crunchy and the extra smooth, sees that the vamps have reached the counter. Spike leaps into the air and grabs hold of the “Checkout” sign hanging above his head. He swings forward on the sign, kicking out with both legs and whacking two of them right in the face, causing them to stumble backwards.

As Spike lands back on the counter, another grabs for his leg and he reacts instantly, crouching low and snapping a punch at the vamp to throw it off balance. The vamp manages to duck his next punch, but to Xander it looks like Spike anticipates this sidestep, because the blond vampire is suddenly there, bending over and twisting the vamp’s head right off with a theatrical flourish. Two dust, five to go.

Spike jumps down from the counter with a loud thud. “Now then,” he says, shaking his head so his game face slides into place. “Who’s next in line to get their ass kicked?”

With a roar of anger, Plaid Shirt rushes forward. Spike waits for him to come within striking distance, then lashes out with a series of blindingly fast blows that seem to come from every direction at once. Despite the precarious nature of his continued existence, Xander finds himself holding his breath, eager to see what happens next. Spike backhands the vamp, then reaches behind him. He’s fumbling on the counter for something; Xander can’t make out what it is, then realizes it’s the wooden separator the cashier uses to distinguish between customers’ goods. And it’s a very handy makeshift stake if used with the right force. Three dust.

Unfortunately for Spike, the four that are left have learned their lesson. They crowd together and attack in a bloc. Blow after blow snaps Spike’s head back, but he’s fighting in earnest now and his knuckles are streaming blood even as his mouth streams invective. The tide turns again as Spike sends one of the vamps flying backwards into a display that comes crashing down around him, momentarily taking him out of the picture.

Spike dives through the open space, heading for Housewares. He grabs a broom and brings one knee up sharply to split the handle in half. Twirling the impromptu staff from one hand to the other, he is casual, cruel, and totally deadly. Xander draws in a sharp breath at the sight.

And Spike hears. The vampire’s eyes flicker sideways and Spike looks right at him. In that instant Xander can hear only a roaring in his ears as his blood pounds and his heart labours. Can Spike smell his fear, he wonders. Does it make a difference? The Angel of Death is watching him and his life hangs in the balance. There’s no Buffy here to save him, no Willow and her spells, no Giles and his crossbow. Only Xander, soaked to the skin and hiding behind some jars of Skippy.

“Spike? It’s fucking cold out here, man. How long does it take to get some cigarettes, anyway?” Obviously the hitcher’s tired of waiting in the rain.

Quick as a flash, Spike moves, his body a blur of black leather. He races to the door and grabs the Skank by the arm, propelling her out in front of him. The other vampires roar in anger and take off after him.

Xander follows, stands in the doorway. There’s a second white van next to the first and five more vamps waiting there. These ones have weapons.

Spike is positioned between the two groups, holding onto the girl. And just as Xander knows he’ll be lucky to get away tonight with his own life, he knows that hers will be forfeit as soon as Spike figures out the best way to play this wild card.

If he doesn’t help her, she’ll die. And yeah, she probably won’t thank him for saving her, but he’s in the hero business. It’s what he’s supposed to do, though sometimes he wishes he had another career. Maybe accounting. It worked for Uncle Leo.

The vampires are coming at Spike. He pushes the girl out of the way as a vamp gets a good grip on his sleeve and twists, causing Spike to fall hard to the ground. But as the vamp goes in for the kill, Spike uses his momentum to roll into a backwards somersault away and up onto his feet. Another vamp lunges for him, but he manages to elude the attack, coming back with a roundhouse straight to the vamp’s gut. When a third swings an axe at his head, Spike ducks to the ground and lashes out with one booted foot, sweeping the legs of a fourth vamp out from underneath him.

Xander hesitates in the doorway, caught by this savage poetry in motion. He’s seen Buffy fight plenty of times, seen Angel fight with her, but never before has it seemed so … fluid, so instinctively natural. Spike is a flurry of motion, attacking, parrying, making it all seem easy. Though pressed hard, there is a feral, gleeful smirk on the blond vampire’s face—and Xander realizes with a rush of grudging admiration that Spike is actually enjoying himself. For the first time he understands why it is that Spike hung around Sunnydale for so long: there’s no joy in victory unless there’s the very real possibility of defeat.

There’s too many of them, though, this time. Spike’s playing a losing game. They appear to reach this conclusion at the same time, because Xander sees Spike make a nearly imperceptible movement back towards the Skank. And Xander knows that if he doesn’t move now she’s gonna be vamp bait.

Somehow, thank god, he’s got a plan. Xander grabs a couple of cans of motor oil and runs outside with them, stopping by the black car. Spike’s got the girl in his hands and Xander has only a couple seconds left before Spike tosses her into the fray and uses the distraction to make his getaway.

He hefts the oil, yelling, “Spike! Light!” Then he pitches it right at the group of vampires.

Everyone turns and stares dumbly at the slow arc of the canister through the air. Spike reacts instantly, whipping his Zippo out of his pocket and baring the flame. As the canister hits the ground hard, it explodes open, sending the oil splattering everywhere. Spike drops the lighter and leaps up onto the hood of a nearby car, pulling the girl up with him and narrowly avoiding the gouts of flame that ignite and immediately set fire to all but three of the vamps.

The rain’s stopped but the air’s still damp and ruins what otherwise would have been an impressive dust cloud. Yet the end results are the same. The remaining vamps exchange terrified looks and take off, jumping into the vans and screeching out of the parking lot.

“You haven’t seen the last of us, Spike,” one of them hisses out the window as they tear away down the highway. Well, of course: the line was obvious. If they didn’t say it, Xander would have done so for them.

“Well, that was a lark,” Spike says, watching them go. He bends over and picks his Zippo up off the pavement, fishes a cigarette from his duster. Turning to the girl as if nothing just happened, he says, “Ready to fly, baby?”

Xander is still standing beside the black car that he now recognizes—damned hindsight—as the infamous DeSoto everyone was talking about. He jolts away from it as if burned. This is so bad, he thinks, and Buffy’s miles away and—

Whoa, what the hell’s this? Spike’s eyes are burning into his and his jaw’s set and he’s stalking towards Xander all dark stare and dark leather until he’s crowding Xander up against the side of the DeSoto. Xander falls back against the car and Spike leans forward, pressing both hands against the vehicle, boxing him in.

“What’s your game, Harris?”

“H-huh?” Xander manages to stammer. He can’t stop gaping at Spike’s face, so close to his own, so terrifyingly alive for a dead man. He’s surrounded by the smell of leather and tobacco and bourbon—it’s overwhelming him on just about every level a man can be overwhelmed on. Xander’s tongue comes out to wet his dry lips. Spike’s avid eyes follow every movement, and Xander feels pinioned under the dark gaze of the predator. Spike remembers his name.

“Why’d you help me?” Spike asks slowly, enunciating each word with care, as if to an idiot.

“Not you!” he gasps, and jerks his head in the direction of the Skank, who appears to be preoccupied with the pretty puddles. “Her.”

“Oh, I see,” Spike says and Xander is alarmed to find himself blushing because Spike’s tone is so knowing, as if he can crawl right into his mind and see everything that Xander’s got hidden in there. “Playing at White Hat, were you?”

“Spike, that was fun, but can we go now?” The Skank sidles up to Spike and presses against him. One of his arms snakes around her shoulders, pulling her even closer. Xander is now sandwiched in between the two of them.

“Listen,” he says earnestly, hoping his bravado sounds more convincing to her than it does to him, “this guy’s bad news. Get a ride with someone else, lady. He’s dangerous, he’s gonna kill you.”

Spike’s head tilts to the left and he raises his scarred brow. “That right?” he asks softly. He leans down and nuzzles the girl’s hair, all the while looking at Xander. “You think I’m the big bad wolf, luv?” He growls softly against her temple and the sound sends a frisson of electricity coursing down Xander’s spine.

How can this girl not see what he is? Surely, even through the haze of whatever drugs she’s on, some survival instinct is there, telling her to run. The Skank turns in Spike’s arms and raises her lips to his. Their kiss gets downright dirty, and Xander’s trapped and he’s forced to watch the whole thing. And the worse part is, it’s hot.

Then suddenly he’s free to move because Spike’s grabbed the girl and with some of that vampire speed he’s got her into the car. Xander stumbles out of the way as he guns the motor.

“Spike—” he begins. He doesn’t know what else to say, to do. He’ll never be able to take Spike out by himself.

Spike flashes Xander a brilliant grin. “Thanks for the help,” he says. Then the DeSoto veers out of the parking lot and disappears into the night. Xander’s left staring after them down the now empty highway.

The rain starts up again.



Fancy Meeting You Here

“… so then I says, Fuck you, buddy, she’s mine. Can you believe it? I’m standing right there at the bar, and the fucking guy is hitting on her. And she’s hanging off his every word. He’s not even that good looking, you know? Kinda sleazy but he’s got that bad boy thing going on.”

“Yeah, I know,” Xander says glumly. He picks up another plate and sets to work scrubbing.

Helpless. He was helpless last night. He’s so damned tired of being helpless.

“I dunno. Chicks dig the bad boy thing. Like there’s some kinda animal voodoo, or somethin’.”

“Magnetism.”

“What?”

“Magnetism, Eduardo. Animal magnetism.” Xander winces as his evil, evil brain conjures up an image of Spike’s face mere inches from his own.

“You know what I’m talking ’bout, no?”

Xander knows. Only too well. “It’s not just the bad boys either,” he says bitterly. “It’s the ones that pretend like they’re all deep and tormented. Girls love that. Keeps them guessing about what’s underneath so they can’t think of anything else but comforting him, finding out what’s behind those soulful eyes.”

’Cause, he’s not an idiot. He knows that all these deep-seated feelings of inferiority and uselessness come from a place other than Spike. Let’s see. Starts with an “A”, rhymes with “hell”. A guy with an automatic “get out of endless torment” free card as far as everyone in Sunnydale’s concerned. In the end, even Faith decided she’d rather fuck him than kill him. And Giles seems to have all but forgotten poor Miss Calendar these days.

Eduardo laughs. “Had your own girl problems?”

“Oh yeah, buddy. Big time.” Xander sighs. Though vampire problems might be a little more precise.

Eduardo leaves his fryer unattended for a minute and comes back with a plastic baggie, which he presses into Xander’s hands. “Here you go, man. Enjoy. Relax. You look like you need it.”

Xander glances down at the bag of marijuana he’s just been given. Co-worker bonding. Cool. “Hey, thanks.”

But relaxation isn’t forthcoming. He’s still thinking about all this when his shift is over. Xander hangs up his apron and heads out into the main bar. He wonders how these past three years might have been had Angel not been in the picture. Would he be here right now? Would he and Buffy be together?

Somehow he suspects the answers to these questions are “yes” and “no”. But a guy can dream, can’t he? Xander takes his melancholy on over to the bar, where he orders a very large beer. One of the saving graces of The Fabulous Ladies Night Club is the fact that they don’t card.

See, Xander’s figured it out. Last night’s debacle is a case in point. The reason why Buffy will never love him is because Xander can’t get it done. He’s always the one who needs rescuing. Whereas someone like Soul Boy—when he’s not evil—takes care of himself. No one does tall, dark, and brooding like Angel. He keeps it mysterious, always leaves her wanting more, never gives her enough.

And Angel’s so good at what he does that even though he’s supposedly gone off to LA and will be out of her life—heavy sarcasm on the supposedly, by the way—Buffy’ll still be so wrapped up in him that she’ll never look at anyone else.

Not that Xander’s still obsessed with her. Of course he’s not. There’s just the small matter of some unresolved sexual tension (all his) and the fact that he’ll be in love with her until the day he dies (which will be sooner rather than later once she finds out he let Spike get away).

He shakes his head sadly, and takes a deep gulp of his beer. “God, I hate Angel,” he mutters. “Really, really hate Angel.”

Someone slides into the barstool beside him.  “Oh, he’s not so bad once you get to know him, even if his hair does stick straight on end,” comes the low, accented voice that Xander had hoped never to hear again. “No, wait, I lied. You’re clearly a man after my own heart.”

And speaking of hearts, Xander’s is firmly wedged in the vicinity of his Adam’s apple. He reaches a trembling hand into his back pocket and pulls out the stake he stashed there this morning.

“What do you want, Spike?” Slowly, he turns to face the smirking vampire.

Spike lights a cigarette and takes a contemplative puff. “Didn’t have time to chat last night. Thought I’d drop by and pay my respects.”

“Consider them paid. Now get lost before I dust you.”

Spike looks amused. “How very butch of you, pet. Slayer been giving you lessons?”

Xander stands up. Spike stands, too. Xander’s scared, but he’s in a bar full of people and he’s not gonna let this blood-sucking asshole get away with anything else. So he, like an idiot, comes back with the first thing that pops into his mind.

“What was with that girl last night, Spike? I mean, Drusilla was scraping the bottom of the barrel, but geez, a guy like you could do better than that.”

Almost before he’s finished, his feet are kicked out from underneath him and he goes flying to the ground, landing painfully on his back. Everything goes silent around them.

“Clumsy,” Spike says to the bar at large. He reaches out a hand and pulls Xander back onto his feet. “Should watch yourself, Harris, fallin’ over like that. Might get hurt next time.”

Chatter resumes and Xander stares at Spike. “What are you doing here?”

“Ah, now, that’s the question of the hour, inn’it? What I’d like to know is what you’re doing out here. Following me? You’re a ways from Sunnydale, pet. Didn’t think the Slayer let her kiddies off the lead.” His eyes narrow. “What do you know?”

“What’s it to you?” Xander manages.

Spike advances. “Inquiring minds and all that rot.”

Xander holds out his hands, warding the vampire away. “Okay, time out! It was bad luck, that’s all. I swear. I was there, you were there—really horrible coincidence.”

“And I’m supposed to believe that?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“Not convincing me.”

Xander loses his temper. It’s the last straw. “Listen, you bleached freak show, I nearly lost my job last night because of you. I was there to buy cough syrup, and because of your little buddies, I was too late. So now my boss is gunning for my head, and the only way I could convince her not to fire my ass was to agree to strip tonight ’cause Ricky’s sick. And I’m gonna suck so bad that I’ll be fired anyway and it’s all your fault! Hey—are you even listening?”

Spike’s eyes narrow. “You call the Slayer?”

Damn. What’s the right answer to this question? Xander knows Spike loves to fight Buffy, wants nothing more than to kill her. But he gets the sense that Spike’s up to something that he wouldn’t want a Slayer to know about.

He never gets to figure out an answer because Spike shakes his platinum head impatiently. “I hope you’re a better dancer than you are a liar, Harris.” More scrutiny. “Right then.” Then the vampire’s gone.



The Worst Show on Earth

Xander staggers out of The Fabulous Ladies Night Club and vomits in the bushes.

Oh, God. He can’t believe he just danced “La Vida Loca” in front of fifty screaming women. He can’t believe they saw his—

He can’t believe how insanely drunk he was when he got up there. Liquid courage. Well, he’s sobering up now, not totally, but enough that all the nerves are hitting him retroactively. Oh, God.

Stumbling through the parking lot, he heads to the motel. But then he sees his broken down shit-box of a car just sitting there in the space out front his room, waiting for the tow-truck that will come when enough dollars have been stuffed down his waistband to pay for the repairs. He lurches over and gives it a good, hard kick. But of course, it ends up hurting him more than it hurts the car, and his toe hurts so much that he opens the door and climbs into the driver’s seat to rest for a minute.

Xander reaches into his pocket and throws Eduardo’s little plastic baggie onto the dashboard. Slumping down, he closes his eyes, wishing at that moment he were anywhere else on Earth. Things have been bad before, “it’s end of the world” never being an idle concept in Sunnydale, but really though? Xander doesn’t think things could possibly get any worse.

“Dunno where you think you’re going, boy. Engine’s shot.”

Xander nearly jumps out of his skin. “Gah! Spike!”

“And a good evening to you.”

“Uh huh.” He rests both his hands on the steering wheel, fingers clenching the faux leather covering so hard that his knuckles turn white. Rule number 37 of growing up on the Hellmouth: Never, ever, say that things can’t get any worse. Because the minute you do, a giant man-eating praying mantis will seduce you. Or you’ll suddenly notice your best friend has breasts. Or an irritating, capital “E” evil vampire will crawl into your car and talk you to death.

Spike’s saying something in that nearly unintelligible accent of his. God, that’s a sexy accent. And god, Xander did not just think that. Giles has that accent for heaven’s sakes. And there’s nothing unsexier than Giles, right?

“I thought you left!” Is he whining? His head is spinning, so it’s hard to tell.

Spike raises a scarred brow. “An’ why would I leave before your grand performance, big boy?”

Rule number 38 of growing up on the Hellmouth: There is no finite boundary to how bad things can get. Never try to define the term “worst”.

“Oh.” Xander tries to think of something witty to say, something that will counter the fact that Spike—Spike, of all people—has witnessed what will go down in history as one of Alexander Lavelle Harris’s least shining moments. He comes up blank, big surprise there.

Spike stretches out his jean-clad legs, clearly making himself more comfortable. “So, I’ve been rememberin’ all the times you Slayerettes have screwed me over, yeah? And then I run into you, and well, I still haven’t decided whether to kill you or not.”

“Gee, thanks, Spike,” Xander says dryly.

“See? What the hell’s wrong with you people from Sunnyhell? Doesn’t anything scare you?” Spike jolts upright in his seat, one hand slamming down on the dashboard so hard that the baggie falls onto his lap and an ominous crack appears in the plastic. “You pathetic bastards wouldn’t know death if you ran into a bloke wearing a hood and carrying a scythe!”

“Uh, right.” Xander’s probably more concerned about his life than Spike’s giving him credit for, but for some reason all he can picture is the image of Death playing Battleship with Bill and Ted. “Death. The ultimate bogus journey.”

Quicker than he can see, the vampire’s got Xander’s throat in an iron grip, and he lifts him off his seat. “Are you making fun of me?”

Who me, sir? No, sir. Never make fun of the man with the pointy teeth.

“No,” he squeaks. Spike gives him a suspicious glare, but eases off. Surreptitiously, Xander rubs his neck, wondering how he’ll explain away the bruises.

Spike’s now muttering to himself; Xander’s not sure, but he thinks it’s something about male strippers, Drusilla, stupid bints, and gherkins? The litany breaks off when Spike notices the weed.

His quicksilver grin is sunlight on a cloudy day. “Maybe you’re not as useless as I thought, Harris.” From one of the pockets of his duster he pulls out some rolling papers and sets to work.

Xander shakes his head. “What are you, Boy Scout of the Damned or something?”

The vampire pauses. “What’ya mean?”

“Always prepared.”

“I have capacious pockets. So what?”

Rule number 78: when a vampire rolls a joint in your car and starts using words like “capacious”, it’s time to get the hell out of there.

But Spike sees his movement towards the door. He wags a finger in front of Xander’s face. “Uh uh uh,” he says. Slapping the side of the driver’s seat, he pulls out his lighter. “You and me are going to spend a little quality time together.”



Male Bonding

Xander’s not sure how much time has passed. All he knows is that he hasn’t felt this good, since—well, forever. Why hasn’t he tried this stuff before now? It’s not like other people weren’t doing it—Devon was always smoking up, and now that he thought about it, weed would certainly explain Oz’s je ne sais quoi, but somehow he’d always been out of the loop.

But not tonight. This is what summer vacations and journeys of self-discovery were all about, baby. Except, of course, when imagining this in third period Algebra, he’d expected to be in the backseat of the car with some hot babe, rather than in the front seat with a psychotic undead serial killer, but hey, at least he isn’t listening to country music in his bedroom.

He’s made several breaks for it, but he’s now too stoned and still too drunk to actually get anywhere. So he tries to make the best of things, to relax. It’s hard, though, given the company he’s in. He thinks he’s hiding it pretty well until Spike takes a toke of the joint and says, “You don’t trust me?” Must be some crazy vampire heartbeat-reading trick. Or Spike just stating the incredibly obvious. One of the two.

“Since the last time I saw you in Sunnydale, Spike, you were knocking me unconscious and trying to eviscerate my friends, I’m not big on the trust thing, no. And can I just say, Oww.”

“Yeah.” Spike stretches the word out. “Sorry ’bout that. It was a thing.”

“A thing?” The homicidal rebound from Hell? A thing? That was one way of putting it.

“ ’Sides, things worked out well for you, heh? Little quality time with the witch?”

Xander wants to wipe that smirk off the vampire’s perfect face. Does Spike know everything?

He must have said the last out loud because Spike’s smirk reaches his blue eyes and he exhales a cloud of smoke before saying, “Just observant. You two were all with the moon eyes and virtuous fluttering.” He puts on a falsetto. “Oh no, we mustn’t, it would be wrong.” Spike takes another drag. “It’s enough to make me sick.”

“Oh, and you and Drusilla were the couple of the year.”

For a brief moment, Xander thinks his spine is going to be made into a marionette. But Spike merely grunts before replying, “You and the witch were nothing compared to Soul Boy and the Slayer.” He scowls. “That poncy bastard with all his ‘We’ll just be friends’ tripe. When anyone could see he had his eyes on the sodding prize.”

“Uh, he already won that,” Xander points out, cautiously. “Though in his case it turned out to be more of a booby prize.”

Spike barks out a short laugh. “Yeah. But since when did any of us, even my sainted grandsire, do what’s best when a body like that’s on the line?”

He’s staring at Xander now, who’s trying to ignore this fact by fixedly examining a crack on the windshield. Damn dirt roads and their little stones.

“Don’t tell me you never thought about her?”

“W-who?” Xander stammers. He’s not sure he likes where this is heading.

“The Slayer.” There’s impatience in Spike’s voice. “Don’t lie. I saw you watching her. Angelus told me about how you stared him down at the hospital one time—”

This registers through the bubbling panic that’s threatening to ruin Xander’s happy vibe. “Really?”

“Well, no, actually, but he did come back with some really creative ideas for your spleen, so I figured you must have done somethin’ to piss him off.”

“Oh.”

“Come on, Xander,” says Spike. “You can tell me—you want the Slayer, too. I know you do.”

Spike’s voice is soft, silky. And he used his name. This lulls Xander just long enough for his betraying mouth to answer, “Yeah.”

“Yeah. You want her. You want to fuck her.”

"Don’t talk about Buffy that way, you little shit.” Xander makes the mistake of turning to face the vampire. His breath catches in his throat and his next words die on his lips.

Spike is sprawled back in the passenger seat, looking for all the world like a sleepy panther. The only illumination in the car comes from the moonlight filtering through the windows and the dull glow of the joint, now burning forgotten in the ashtray. It makes his skin gleam, and that causes Xander to notice that there is more of that skin showing than there should be. Somehow Spike’s black silk shirt has come undone and his long pale fingers are moving slowly up and down, stroking his impossibly white chest.

Xander’s mouth goes dry. This is so not good, he thinks.

When Spike speaks again, he looks directly into Xander’s widened eyes. “You love her and all you’ve ever wanted is for her to see you as something other than just her goofy friend. Have her see how you’d give your life to protect her, how you’d do anything for her. How you’re not a boy; you’re a man. But she doesn’t. She looks at you, but she doesn’t see you.”

“The Zeppo,” murmurs Xander, mesmerized by those slowly tracing fingers.

Spike leans forward, and Xander can feel the vampire's unnecessary breath ghosting along his cheek. "But I see you."

Xander can feel his hands trembling in his lap. He doesn’t know where to put them, what to do, how to handle to fact that his cock is hardening inside his jeans.

Oh God, thinks the sober part of Xander’s brain. If Spike kills me tonight I will have thoroughly deserved it.

“What do you see?” he manages.

Spike’s eyes are blue fire. “A man who’s not what he seems. Someone like me.”

Xander recoils. “What? No! You’re a blood-sucking freak! A soulless monster!”

“Compliments, pet, compliments.”

“I don’t want to be anything like you,” Xander insists, but he’s staring at Spike’s hands again—chipped black polish; blunt square nails; long, careful, knowing fingers.

“Come now,” Spike purrs. “You should take what you want, like I do. See a girl, take her.” His eyes rake over Xander’s body, lingering on the hard bulge at his crotch. “Push into her hot little cunny. Tell the Slayer that you’re more than enough man to give her what she wants. Make her scream. Make her beg.”

The stroking hand glides lower, bunching up the ends of the open shirt just enough so that Xander gets a glimpse of hard belly and a line of dark hair trailing down from the vampire’s navel into the waistband of his black jeans.

Xander’s having trouble breathing. He wonders if he should unroll a window, let some air in.

“You ever do anything like that, luv? Take what you wanted?”

“Y-yes.”

“Really?” Spike leans in again and Xander gasps as a cool tongue flicks against his earlobe. “Tell me.”

“I—a hyena spirit entered my body.”

“Yes?” Spike’s free hand is gently massaging the nape of his neck. Without meaning to, Xander leans into his touch.

“And—and I tried to—”

“Yeah?” The word is warm against his temple. Spike’s lips hover millimeters from Xander’s skin.

“Buffy—against the wall and—” Xander turns his head slightly towards Spike and suddenly their faces are so close that it would take no effort at all to close the distance and kiss—

Xander jerks away, spell broken. “Gah! What the fuck am I doing?”

There’s a glimpse of fang in Spike’s slow smile and Xander’s skin prickles. “Taking what you want, pet. At least that’s what I’m doing.”

“Oh, my God!” He gropes for the latch on the door and practically falls out of the car. Picking himself up he half runs, half stumbles to his motel room door.

Looking back, he sees no movement. And it’s only when he’s in bed, door locked tight and covers drawn up to his chin, that Xander thinks to worry about whether vampires get the munchies.



Morning After

Oversleeping is not the best of plans when you’re already in arrears for car payments.

Last night’s debacle of tear-away pants might have bought him some slack, but not much.

Xander jumps out of bed, trying to ignore the throbbing in his head, and takes off the t-shirt he slept in. He’s now wearing only his boxers, but he’s in such a hurry that when the knocking comes on the door he doesn’t bother to get dressed before calling out, “Come in,” to the cleaning woman. He’s looking for his socks when there’s a cluck of disapproval from behind him.

“Take the boy off the Hellmouth and just look what happens.” Spike is lounging by the open door in blatant disregard for personal safety; leathers smoking slighting from the morning sunshine and supremely irritating leer firmly in place. “Careless, careless. Whatever am I to do with you?”

Xander jumps back and fumbles around for a weapon, any kind of weapon. He grabs the Gideon Bible off the nightstand.

“Get away from me,” he warns, brandishing the book.

Spike laughs. “Don’t be absurd.” He kicks the door closed. “Little tip, luv. Threats tend to work better when you’re fully dressed.”

“Spike! What the hell do you want?” The last half of Spike’s comment suddenly registers. He’s practically naked. “Crap!”

“Oh, come on. I saw you shake your bon-bon last night, didn’t I? Little late for the blushing virgin routine. Shower through there?” Spike shrugs out of his duster.

Xander lowers the Bible. A large helping of mortification with a side order of just plain confused: the Xander Harris Breakfast of Champions. “Huh?”

“Shower,” Spike repeats. “Something wrong with your ears?”

“I think there might be, because I don’t remember hearing myself say that you could use my bathroom!”

“You didn’t.”

Xander just stares as Spike disappears into the bathroom. First Spike doesn’t kill him outright, then he smokes up with him, then he flirts with him, and now he’s using his shower? Is he missing something?

Xander vows to call Buffy on his break.



Out of Control

He never gets around to it.

It would be the smart thing to do, no question. But he’s busy with the dishwashing, then busy with the fear after Maddie wants him to dance again in a couple nights (damn flu bug!), and then he sits in the manager’s office with the phone cradled in his hand and he just can’t dial.

What can Buffy do, after all? By the time she gets down here, Spike’ll be gone. Besides which, she’s probably having a great summer with Willow, trying her best to forget her heartbreak, and the last thing she needs is all this weirdness to be dumped on her lap. No … he needs to deal with this himself.

When Xander heads back to his motel room at the end of his shift, the light’s nearly gone and he’s praying that Spike will be too. But as he nears he can see that the lights are on and he can hear the faint sound of the television. The DeSoto’s still parked out front.

Xander sits down on the chair opposite the bed and takes off his shoes. He’s going for calm, nonchalant. As if he comes into his horrible little motel room every day and expects to find his mortal enemy there chilling out to day time television.

“Jerry Springer?”

“Yeah, well, I like the violence. Though trailer trash don’t taste as good as you might expect given the amount of anger in’m. Too greasy.” Spike pulls a face and changes the channel. “Oooh, Grand Canyon.” He leans forward.

Xander can’t take his eyes off the vampire. It’s an hour later, and Spike hasn’t shut up once. He’s got a running commentary going in time to the movie and Xander’s listening with part awe/part irritation to this one-sided dialogue.

When the credits come up, he’s had enough. “Umm, Spike? I’m pretty tired.”

Spike flicks off the television and stretches. His black t-shirt rides up a little and Xander quickly looks away.

The vampire snorts and crosses over to his duster, fishes out a cigarette.

“Could you not smoke in my room? Thank you.”

Spike ignores him. “Nice place, you got here. Bit rough around the edges, but you’ve made it right homey.”

“Thanks. Hey! Stop that!” Spike is opening the drawers of the dresser. Xander shakes his head. This is just too strange. “What is it I can do for you exactly, Spike?” And then please will you just go, he adds silently.

“What can you do for me? Well, now, that’s the question of the hour, inn’it.”

“Apparently.” Xander crosses his arms and tries to look like he means business.

Spike takes a last drag of his cigarette, drops it on the carpet, and grinds it out with one booted foot. “I need a favour.”

“Uh huh. And I’m just bursting to do you one. A favour? Are you out of your mind? Oh no, wait, stupid question.”

“I need to stay here for a couple of days.”

“What? No!

“You disappoint me, Harris. Really you do.”

Realization dawns. “You’re hiding, aren’t you? Those vamps who attacked you … you’re hiding from them.”

“Clever boy. But not quite. Biding my time, is more like. Laying low ’till the time is ripe.” Cocking his head, Spike adds, “ ’Course, I usually get bored with that, so you might get lucky and be shut of me before long.”

“Why are they after you?”

“After them, you mean. They’ve got something I want.”

“This isn’t one of those ‘I’ve told you, now I’m going to have to kill you’ routines, is it?” Xander regards him warily.

Spike gives an exaggerated sigh. “It’s hard to talk about, alright? Dru and I came down through these parts on our way to Brazil.”

“So?”

“She fucked around. A lot. And even though I’m over her—” There’s a steely glint in his eye—“Utterly over her, I can’t help but feel a little payback is required.”

Xander’s starting to understand. “So you’re—”

“Local vamp, name of Lucius. Right bastard.” Spike’s smile is pure confidence, simmering rage. “I’m here to kill him. Has some boys, some minions who think they can beat the Big Bad. Too many to deal with at once, so I need to take it slow. That’s what you walked in on the other night. But I’m close to findin’ out where he holes up and when I do—” Spike’s voice trails off, no doubt he’s imagining the tortures he’s going to inflict. He catches himself and finishes. “So I’d appreciate it if you left me stay with you.”

“Do I have a choice?” Xander sighs.

“Not really, no.”

He knows when he’s beaten. “Just … no smoking in the room, okay, Spike?”

“Fair enough.”

There’s an old saying—you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. And as easy as that, Xander makes a pact with the Devil.



No Going Back

Xander doesn’t plan to sleep a wink that night, because he’s fairly certain that however fun it sounds, exsanguination ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

He’s in bed, staring at the shadows on the wall. Spike’s in the armchair, dead or asleep—as far as Xander can tell it looks the same. There’s no sound of breathing, no clue as to whether the vampire’s eyes are closed or open, watching him.

Now maybe he’s being paranoid, but there’s just no point of reference here. How’s he supposed to deal with this bizarre twist of events? It’s not like he can call Willow and Giles and Oz and go into research mode. Sleeping with a vampire? This is uncharted territory! Okay, so Buffy charted this one, but remember how badly that turned out? And for the record, he means literally sleeping, not sleeping—

Xander’s even wider awake now. He’s starting to realize that he’s an idiot. There are a million places Spike could hide out; there’s no reason his motel room specifically should be that place.

So why’s Spike here? For the life of him, Xander can’t figure it out. He lies there for a while, thinking back over their conversations. That, of course, brings up memories he’s been trying to ignore and to pass off as the ravings of a stoned and drunken madman.

Spike had been … coming on to him.

His heart beats faster at the remembrance of Spike touching him, Spike’s tongue not quite kissing, but doing other things that were really, really, alarmingly arousing.

Damn. There it was again. Even though Xander’s sure that not even demon eyesight could spot his erection in a darkened bedroom, he’s not willing to take any chances. Besides which, he’s just caught his traitorous hand reaching down to bring himself off to these thoughts of Spike. There’s a world of wrong with this picture.

Carefully, as quietly as possible, Xander slips from the bed and into the sweatshirt and jeans lying on the floor. He casts a cautious glance at the still figure in the corner. No sign of movement.

Once outside, he breathes a sigh of relief. It’s a gorgeous evening: mild, with just enough moon to see by. Xander’s few hours of restlessness seem to have refreshed him enough that he’s not eager to go back into the room any time soon. He glances at his watch. The night’s still young.

Beside the hulking piece of shit that’s fast become the bane of his very existence is the DeSoto. Now that he knows the black car belongs to Spike, it’s taken on a whole new level of fascination. The guy saw the very first cars that were made, for Christ’s sake, and Xander’s got to figure that Spike can steal any vehicle he wants. But instead of going for a Porsche or a Beemer, he’s gone for this. The “it” factor’s definitely there, but the thing must eat gas. Yet what does that matter when Spike can just kill the gas station attendant and take anything he wants? Sometimes Xander thinks it would be okay to be a vampire—there’d be none of this mundane human crap to worry about.

“You ever do anything like that, luv? Take what you wanted?”

Xander gets into the DeSoto and finds the keys in the ignition. There’s minute hesitation, and that’s all it takes.

Spike leans in the open window, slight smile, hint of fang. “You even think of stealing my car and I’ll rip your thumbs off then drain you dry.”

“I wasn’t!”

“Good lad.” Spike’s voice is friendly, neighbourly even. “Now tell Uncle Spike exactly what you were doing.” Neighbourly, but in that “Beware of vicious dog and don’t even think of borrowing the lawnmower” kind of way.

“I was just looking!” He flings open the door and jumps out of the car, holding out his hands as if to say, See, no harm done!

“Right. Get back in the car. We’re goin’ out.”

Xander’s not expecting the conversation to take this turn—he’s got several more defensive exclamations prepared—so his “No” just kinda slips out.

Spike raises his eyebrows. He takes a menacing step towards Xander. “No?”

You gotta make a stand sometime, thinks Xander. And this is mine. Right here, with both feet planted on the pavement. Standing. Not getting back into that hearse with that vampire. I don’t care what he says, what he threatens me with, I’m making a stand, and—

Spike shrugs. “ ’Kay. Your loss. Bugger off then and I’ll go eat Mexican by myself.” He slides into the car.

“Wait!” Sometimes standing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A true sign of maturity is the ability to roll with the punches, to adapt to new circumstances as they arise. He takes a step towards the vehicle. “Mexican as in burritos and taco-y goodness, or Mexican as in a man in a poncho and a funny hat?”

“Just get in the bleedin’ car, Harris.”

Yup. You gotta make a stand sometime. And this is not that time.



Revelations

“So … you eat? Angel never—” Oops. Don’t mention Angel. “I mean, I didn’t think vampires needed to eat. Except blood, of course.”

Spike takes his eyes off the road for a minute, spares him a glance. The stereo blares The Ramones, making conversation difficult. To Xander’s amazement, he turns the music down. Apparently Spike’s actually listening to him.

“We don’t need food, but some of us like it. Variety’s the spice of life, and all that.”

“Oh. That’s cool.” There’s a lull while Xander tries to think of something else to say, because believe it or not, he finds himself wanting to talk to Spike. This is new for him, this actually talking to a vampire. There are so many things he wants to know, and Dead Boy only really ever talked to Buffy. Though sometimes he wonders if that’s even really true—aside from ‘I love you’, Angel never seemed to have much to say.

Not so Spike. As they drive through the California countryside, windows open to the salt-tinged breeze, past countless fields of ripening fruit, Xander realizes that if he can only think of the right questions to ask, Spike will tell him anything he wants to know.

It’s a heady realization and hot on its heels comes another one. He likes Spike.

Xander darts a surreptitious look at the vampire, but Spike’s attention is on the road, one hand beating out the rhythm in accompaniment to the music.

He likes Spike. The vampire’s annoying, and dangerous, and did he mention annoying? But at the same time Xander gets the feeling that underneath all the psycho killer stuff, Spike’s a pretty good guy. Spike’s … friendly … which is weird given the whole demon grr argh thing he’s got happening, but Xander can see that the tough guy thing isn’t entirely authentic. It’s as if Spike deliberately let him, Xander, see this.

It’s like the coolest kid in school has suddenly decided to treat Xander like an equal, so now he’s cool by association. And it feels great.

“What the fuck are you staring at, Harris?”

A day ago, hell, ten minutes ago, Xander would have been scared witless by this threatening growl. But now? In the face of these revelations?

His answering grin is pure evil. “Got blood on your face, Fang Breath.” And he watches with secret amusement as a creature without a reflection tries to figure out whether he’s serious or not.

A bit later: “Spike?”

“Yeah?” They make a left turn. A group of teenagers waiting for the bus wave as the car passes. Spike shoots them the bird and they cheer.

“That girl the other night. The hitchhiker.”

Spike gives him a quick look, his scarred brow raised, daring Xander to ask.

“You drank her blood?”

“Yeah, Harris, I did. A little looped for my tastes, but sweet.”

“Did you …”

“Did I what?” he parrots, insolently. He knows very well.

“Why’d you let her live?” Xander asks eventually.

He’s surprised Spike, he can tell. And the vampire’s acknowledging smile warms him all the way through. “Great cocksucker. ’S a rare talent these days. Shouldn’t be wasted.”

Ah. “Right,” says Xander.

Spike cranks the steering wheel and does a sudden U-turn. “Food can wait,” he says. “I’ve just had a much better idea. You in?”

Xander ducks his head, so that Spike won’t see the wary pleasure on his face. “Yeah,” he says after a minute, downplaying. “I’m in.”



The Sunshine Bistro

Xander’s surprised by how well Spike seems to know the area. They drive into Oxnard proper and park just off the main strip.

Civilization—such as it is. To Xander, having been stranded in the backwaters of Ventura County, this is a bustling metropolis, an urban mecca. There are people. Fully clothed, non-sleazy strip joint people who don’t expect him to wash their dishes.

And their destination?

Well, it’s a bar. At least, Xander thinks that’s what it is. The façade of the building is done up all European café, with hanging flower baskets and painted window shutters on the upper stories. There’s a patio with some pale, languid types having an animated discussion over drinks. Also, a periwinkle awning, colour clearly identifiable by any self-respecting crayon aficionado; “The Sunshine Bistro” written on said awning.

“The Sunshine Bistro?” Xander asks.

“What, you need a soul to appreciate irony?” Spike makes his way to the door, Xander in tow. The sign just inside the door, “No Humans Allowed Unless Accompanied By a Patron,” is his second clue. The Xsortax demon acting as bouncer is his third.

“Spike!” it grunts from behind its facial tentacles.

“Stan,” Spike returns, looking past the demon to survey the interior. “Gerhardt been in yet?”

“Gerhardt? Yeah, he’s in there somewhere. Came in about half an hour ago. It’s jumping in there.”

Spike brushes by, heading for the bar. “Ta, mate.”

Xander goes to follow, but the demon—what kind of demon goes by Stan??—blocks the way.

“Not so fast, little man,” Stan rumbles. It gestures to the sign with one quivering tentacle. “No humans allowed.”

“Oh, I’m with Spike,” Xander tells him, and tries again to move past.

“I’ve heard that one before,” Stan sniffs.

“Huh? You have?”

“Oh, yeah. New vamp in town, everyone wants a piece of him. Celebrity too, ’round these parts.” The Xsortax makes a strange wheezing noise that Xander presumes is laughter.

Well … this is worrying. If everyone in Ventura County knows Spike is here, then chances are the thugs who nearly dusted him the other night won’t have much trouble tracking him down for a second go. Xander’s brow furrows. That could get messy, and hey, not liking the potential for personal danger.

“Harris! What the hell are you doing? Leave the sodding demon alone and get your ass over here.”

Xander smiles apologetically at Stan. “Sorry, bud.”

Stan looks fairly disgruntled, but moves out of the way.

Spike’s standing at the bar drinking something that looks suspiciously like a JD and blood, but Xander’s not going to ask. Spike passes him a beer.

“You bought me a drink?” Xander radiates disbelief.

Spike hands him back his wallet, which he hadn’t even noticed was missing. “Anytime, pet,” Spike smirks.

Xander shakes his head and takes a gulp of life-giving alcohol. Then he takes a moment to really look around. This place is no Willy’s.

The whole “bistro” thing isn’t just a gimmick to lure in the tourists—the owners have really gone for authentic kitsch, and they’ve outdone themselves. Wrought iron tables are scattered around the spacious interior, little white fairy lights dangle from the ceiling, interspersed with fake ivy and exposed brick.

No, definitely not like Willy’s. More class, more clientele, more—legs. Xander gapes as what looks like a caterpillar with antlers trundles past him, heading for the dance floor. The vampire DJ in the corner’s playing Henry Mancini’s “Moon River”.

Apparently amused, Spike drinks and says, “Stop gaping, you stupid git. You’re embarrassing me.”

With great effort, Xander levers his mouth closed. “Man, there must be like fifty different types of demon in here.”

“Yeah, probably.” Spike doesn’t seem that interested. He’s surveying the room, too, though Xander knows it’s not for the same reason. Spike’s looking for one demon in particular: this Gerhardt fellow.

“You see him?”

“If you’d stop your yapping, I might get a proper look.”

He subsides. “Sorry.”

While Spike does his thing, Xander scopes out the joint, trying for subtle. He’s pretty sure he’s got “Tasty Man Flesh = Nummy Treat” tattooed across his forehead, though, given that plenty of patrons are returning his stares. Xander slinks back between stools until his back’s pressed up against the bar. He concentrates and tries to regulate his heartbeat so he appears less ... vulnerable.

Spike gives him a strange look. “What are you doing exactly?”

Xander’s saved from having to come up with an inevitably humiliating answer when Spike suddenly sees the demon he’s looking for.

“Stay here,” Spike commands.

“I’ll come with you—”

Spike ignores him. “And for God’s sake, don’t talk to anyone.”

“Yes, sir!” Xander gives a mock salute, but really, who’s he kidding? Without his bad-ass vampire bodyguard he had no plans on (A) moving or (B) opening his mouth. Drawing attention to himself is not something he’s keen on doing right about now.

Spike’s lips quirk, and he seems about to say something further, but instead he just shakes his head slightly and slips through the crowded room towards a table in the far corner. There’s someone already sitting there—Gerhardt presumably. Xander thinks it’s a Klykarto demon, but he can’t be sure since that would have meant actually paying attention during library research sessions.

Xander takes another sip of his beer and looks around again. Yep, this is a classy joint for a demon bar. Think less Mos Eisley spaceport and more Restaurant at the End of the Universe. But Spike’s sitting with this Gerhardt guy (thing?) and Xander is immediately reminded of Han Solo with the blaster under the table, the tension’s that thick.

He wonders if it would be possible to hear their conversation if he inched a little bit closer. Xander can only assume they’re here to get information on the whereabouts of this Lucius guy, emphasis on “they”. He’s part of this, whether he wants to be or not, and it seems only fair that he be kept in the loop.

Xander takes one step towards the table when the most luscious female he’s ever seen steps directly in front of him.



Never Trust a Woman of the Night

“Uh, hi.” Xander gets points for form, if not originality, because he manages not to spill his drink when she startles him.

The woman—young, blonde, drop dead gorgeous, and um, nubile—stares at him as though he’s the most important thing in her universe. “Please—” she hisses. “You’ve got to help me!”

Xander puts his beer down and leans closer, first checking to make sure there’s no one within earshot. “What? What’s wrong?”

Her eyes are frightened. “Please—this place. It’s full of monsters!”

Oh. Right. He thinks he understands what’s going on.

Voice hitching, the woman grabs at his sleeve. “Please! He’s going to kill me if you don’t help me. I know you’re not one of them, you’ve got to get me out of here!”

“Where’s the guy?”

“He’ll see me talking to you, and he’ll kill me!” She flips her hair back, shows him the blood smeared on her neck. “He’s a vampire!”

“Okay. Don’t worry.” Xander glances towards the corner and sees that Spike is still talking to his contact. He takes the woman by the hand and leads her through the crowd towards the exit.

Stan gives them a frosty look as they pass, but doesn’t try to stop them. They stumble out of the dim bar and out onto the street. The woman is panting hard, and as soon as they’re out, she gives a little cry and throws herself into his arms.

“Uh, ma’am?”

She pulls reluctantly away. “Oh, I’m sorry. But you’ve saved me. How can I ever repay you?” She inches closer. “We have to get away from here … we could go back to my place. Unwind a little. I could show my appreciation for your valour.”

“My—?” Xander shakes his head in disbelief and whips the stake out of his jacket pocket. He dusts the vampire without hesitation. “You know,” he says to the night at large, “it’s kind of insulting really. I mean, vamps could at least bother to update their vocabularies if they’re gonna try with the big fakeout. What self-respecting California girl uses ‘valour’?”

He looks up to see Spike lounging a few feet away, eyebrow raised. “Why is it always me? Am I a freaking demon magnet or something?” He gives the vampire dust an irritable kick.

Spike’s expression doesn’t change when he asks, “Got a problem with demons, luv?”

Xander doesn’t flinch when he answers. “Not so much. Certain demons are better than others. More welcome.”

“Ah.” Spike flicks away his cigarette. “Right, then. Got what I wanted. Let’s go before someone notices you’ve dusted his girlfriend.”

They get into the DeSoto. The drive is silent for the first few minutes, then Spike takes his eyes off the road and looks at him. “Does anything frighten you?” There is genuine interest in the question, maybe a hint of puzzlement.

Xander’s surprised by this. He’s often afraid; he just doesn’t let it rule him. Fear paralyzes, and on the Hellmouth, if you ain’t moving, you might as well be dinner.

He forces a smile, uses humour to deflect the tension throbbing between them. “Well, I’m scared shitless about going on stage again. Not so good with the stripping.”

At first, Spike doesn’t smile back; his face is absolutely still, beautiful. Then he tilts his head to the side and allows that familiar sly smile to curve his full lips. “Well, then,” he says. “We’ll have to see what we can do about that, won’t we?”

And Xander turns away to gaze out the window at the silver-green of the moonlit fields, and silently asks himself why he’s not frightened.



If You’re Gonna Do It, Do It Right

Spike’s in the bathroom, doing whatever it is that vampires do.

Xander’s lying on top of the covers, flipping through the television. He remembers a time when he found infomercials interesting. Is late night channel surfing something one outgrows as one sloughs off the teenage years and begins down the road to adulthood? Apparently so, because fruit dehydrators just aren’t cutting it anymore. But then again, Spike’s about seven times his age and still likes them.

Spike. Xander turns off the tv and closes his eyes. Tonight was … different. He had fun. Was he supposed to have fun? Probably not—no, make that, definitely not—but it didn’t matter. Fun was most certainly had. What would Buffy or Will or Giles say?

Forget the whole going inside the demon bar thing—what would they say if they knew about that moment outside? Xander shivers, remembering how Spike had looked straight through him, into him.

Well, they aren’t here, are they? If he wants to—

He opens his eyes. Oh. All rational thought melts away. He wants to.

Spike is standing at the foot of the bed, watching him with dark and careful eyes. His lips are slightly parted, his shirt half-open, baring pale skin and hard chest.

“Spike?” Xander says, and his voice sounds strange, even to him.

The vampire pulls something out of his pocket, pops open the deck of the tape player sitting on the desk. He pauses, finger on the button. “Doesn’t do for a brave boy like you to be afraid of something like this. Want me to show you how it’s done?”

Xander can’t breathe. He nods, a jerky, half-motion, agreeing to it all.

The first notes of the music fill the room. Spike trails his fingers down his chest to his naval and then slowly lets his hand smooth its way upwards again.

The beat starts, a slow, sexy twang that makes Spike’s shoulders loosen and sway. The black-lacquer of his nails is stark against the startling crimson of his silk shirt, and they slide in staccato counterpoint against the fabric, nails biting in slightly, but not too much. He’s not serious yet.

I can see you in my past

Spike mouths the words to the song, the sultry vocals perfectly suiting the decadent mood he’s spinning.

But this time's been so alone

His hips begin to move, an agonizingly slow gyration that draws Xander’s gaze and causes the air in the room grow thick and desperately warm.

Can't seem to find you

But I've come to take you home

On this line, Spike pushes his hands hard down his body, down his belly, not quite touching himself, then at the last, lets them fly away out to the sides. He brings his arms up behind the back of his head, drawing his shirt taut against his chest.

Xander wets dry lips. Spike’s not taken his eyes off of him, and the tip of the vampire’s tongue darts out to trace his own mouth.

Just want to touch you through the glass

But you don't see me

Spike sways, his sloe-eyed stare heating Xander’s blood. He shifts on the bed, his jeans too tight.

Do you remember when we met last?

Seeing Xander’s discomfort, Spike’s fingers trace down to the top of his jeans, under his shirt. There’s a pause, then he pops the first button. Xander makes a small sound. He pops the second button.

Xander, not taking his eyes off of Spike, reaches down his body and undoes the fastening on his own jeans, nearly moans with the pleasure of the relief. His hands rest on lightly on his hips; he’s not touching himself, but he’s made it clear he’s not going to be intimidated.

Don't lose your faith in love

Don't lose your faith in love

Bring it on home to me

I'll give you faith in love today

It’s amazing the way that Spike can move. Xander has seen evidence of it before, in his fighting, in the way he walks. He can slouch. He can stalk. He can prowl. But here in the chiaroscuro shadows of a darkened motel room he’s a thing of sinuous beauty. The half-light from the lamp brings his angular face into sharp relief, and Xander experiences a rush of the purest lust he’s ever felt, just wanting to tug that bottom lip between his teeth.

Oh, Oh

Spike’s no longer watching him. His head is thrown back, his body completely one with the music. He’s caressing the edges of his shirt, slowly beginning to unbutton it, sliding the fabric through his hands, letting fingertips graze the pale skin revealed.

I will know you by the way you look at me

The last button comes undone and the shirt falls open.

No one can hold your gaze longer than me

No, no one makes you sigh

He works the edges of the shirt, drawing them up and down, and then in one fluid motion it slithers off his body and onto the floor.

Don't be afraid

Xander watches the lamplight play over the muscles of Spike’s chest. He aches to touch them, and oh, his back, all gleaming and sleek jungle cat grace.

Come with me

I'll protect you

I've got God on my side

Spike’s mouth curves wickedly, seductively. He undoes the buttons on his black jeans and skims them leisurely down his body. Xander’s breath is coming in gasping pants and his heart is pounding in his ears.

It’s like Spike can see how close Xander is to the edge, can see that it’s ceased to become a game and is suddenly essential.

 They all think they understand you

You just smile and let them think they do

Xander can’t stop staring at Spike’s naked body. He’s magnificent, he’s beautiful; his cock juts out proud and erect and Xander can feel his own dick twitching and pulsing and yearning, goddamnit.

Spike answers his silent demands. Suddenly he’s there, on the bed, crawling up along the length of Xander’s trembling body.

When I look in your eyes

I can see what the others can't

Cause they all want to own you

And I just want to have this dance

It’s the most erotic thing ever. He’s a panther, merciless and mesmerizing; a dark, slippery hunger colours his every tightly controlled movement. Spike comes to a halt above Xander, arms braced on each side of the pillow, muscles coiled with tension.

He leans in close, and his blue eyes bore into Xander’s brown. “Yes?” he asks, voice a harsh growl.

Come on home to me

“Yeah.” Xander’s hands rise up to tangle in silvery hair. He tugs at the back of Spike’s head, and brings the vampire’s lips down to meet his own. There is nothing tentative about this first kiss. It’s a hot, open-mouthed affair, mouths melding together, tongues exploring and entwining.

There’s danger in kissing Spike. Every nerve in Xander’s body feels as though it’s on fire, sending excited pulses to his groin, warning him of danger. But there’s pleasure, too, and lust long denied. He can feel the same lust in Spike, and that’s enough for Xander to tamp down his concerns and let his body take over. Because if Spike is feeling anything like Xander is feeling, the only hurting that’s gonna happen tonight is the good kind.

Spike expertly strips him down, letting his hands slide possessively along Xander’s body, mirroring his dance.

Xander gasps against Spike’s shoulder. “I thought you wanted to fuck Buffy.”

“Oh, I do.” The vampire licks Xander’s neck, wet and slow; nibbles at the fluttering pulse point. “But you’re rather tasty yourself.”

The ability to form coherent thoughts, let alone sentences is lost to Xander at this point. The fact that he’s writhing on a bed against another man, a vampire no less, ceases to become important, if it even really mattered to him in the first place.

No thoughts. No words. Just sensation.

Later:  “Feels so … so good,” Xander moans, writhing, head tossing and turning against the sweat-soaked pillow.

“You like that?” Spike’s hoarse whisper has Xander’s cock twitching, moving in the vampire’s slowly pumping hand.

“Oh … yeah. Yeah.”

Spike’s teeth worry at Xander’s earlobe, lightly nipping. His tongue darts into his ear, and Xander arches up off the bed, thigh muscles taut with strain.

“You like me, here, with you?”

Gasps, “Yeah.”

“In your bed? Touching you? Making you hot? Making you hard?”

“Spike—”

“Yeah, that’s right, pet. Spike. Say my name again.” He pulls Xander’s body against his own, letting Xander feel his erection rubbing against his ass.

“Oh, God! Spike—”

“That’s right.” A pinch of Xander’s nipple has him crying out wordlessly. The feel of Spike’s slick cock moving, pressing against him has him practically sobbing. “The Big Bad. You trust me?”

“N-no,” Xander manages, twisting his head around. Spike’s eyes are midnight blue and the intensity and need he sees in them sends shimmers of desire coursing through Xander’s blood. He steadies himself, serious. “I don’t trust you,” he says, and his eyes send a message of their own. “But I want you.”

Now it’s Spike’s turn to make the sound of desire and he growls deep in his chest. In the next moment, Xander is flat on his back with the vampire’s sculpted body braced above his own.

Xander can feel his lust burning low in his belly. He’s harder than he can ever remember being, not even when Faith blindsided him in her motel room and made his wildest fantasies come true.

Did he say “wildest”? ’Cause actually, that’s not true. The blond vampire slowly lowering himself down onto Xander’s outstretched body? The skimming of cool skin against overheated flesh? The tongue lapping at his collarbone, the mouth working and sucking at his neck, the clever fingers reaching low to caress and knead his sac?

Yeah. Well. There were a few furtive teenage fumblings to that particular fantasy. Okay. More than a few.

A sharp, stinging slap brings him back to the present. “Stop. Thinking.” As a counterpoint to his words, Spike drops his hips and shimmies forward, sliding his cock against Xander’s erection.

“Ohhhh.” Has anything ever felt so perfect?

“You like that?” Spike whispers once more.

Xander stops thinking, as ordered. He stops wondering why Spike is so concerned about his pleasure. He just goes with it, does whatever he has to in order to again experience the slick pressure of another man’s penis against his own.

He reaches a clumsy hand between their bodies, takes hold of his erection and drags it against Spike’s straining stomach muscles. The feeling of his dick on those abs is incredible. Defies description.

Spike moans and lets his full weight drop down onto Xander. Now they’re pressed up against each other, the thin sheen of sweat covering Xander’s body slicking them both, precum coating their bellies.

Xander feels Spike’s fingers close around him, enclosing him, and now as they move on each other, rough thigh against thigh, smooth chest against chest, hungry mouth devouring mouth; their cocks are rubbing together and the friction is good, so good.

“You do it, luv,” Spike murmurs and Xander can only stare at him uncomprehendingly, because this is so incredibly hot, Spike is so incredibly hot, and he wants him, Xander Harris, who can barely speak at this point, let alone follow instructions.

Spike chuckles softly and leads Xander’s hand to take over while his own hands snake around to touch Xander’s ass, to slide fingers between the taut cheeks, to caress the tight opening that sings at the vampire’s careful touch.

“Spi—”

“Shh,” the vampire croons softly and slides one, two, three slick fingers inside Xander, all the while murmuring appreciation (“so hot, so tight, you’re scalding me, luv, melting me”) and pressing lavish kisses down the column of Xander’s throat.

Xander is aware of a slow, burning pressure, but it doesn’t hurt to be filled like this, it’s like his body has craved it for years, never quite putting words to longing, and now that he knows, he wants more.

And Spike lets Xander fuck himself against his hand and all the while his moist tongue flicks against Xander’s ear, whispering exquisitely dirty words which just heighten Xander’s excitement, leaving him teetering on the edge of control, agonizingly hard, desperate for release. “That’s right, good boy, yes, push against me, deeper, let me in, let me touch you there, ahhh, yeah, you feel that? Feel me stroking you there on your sweet spot?”

“I’m gonna come, I’m gonna come,” Xander pants.

“Oh, and I want you to, my sweet boy, because I’m going to come, too,” Spike says with that smile, and he thrusts his fingers into Xander even as their cocks rub together, faster and harder and—

“I’m going to come all over you,” says Spike, and that’s it, Xander explodes and Spike is right there with him. Xander can feel their cocks jerking and spasming between their bodies, he can feel the warmth of their ejaculate, and that sends him off again and he comes and comes, until he slides into incoherent darkness, numb from pleasure.

When they fall asleep, spooned against each other, Spike’s body is soothingly cool against Xander’s still-feverish skin.

The vampire’s gone when Xander wakes the next morning.



Interlude

The one good thing about masturbation is that when it’s over, you’re not left standing there like an idiot, wondering what the fuck just happened.

Xander’s not an expert in the sexual relationship game; he’s got a not-so-impressive line of conquests. In fact, the question of who the “conqueror” was in each case is certainly up for grabs. With Cordy things never progressed beyond some heavy gropage and impressive amounts of tonsil hockey. Willow he only kissed those few times—nothing like an overwhelming miasma of guilt to kill a mood. And Faith was a tsunami that crashed over him and left him shuddering helpless in her wake. Overly poetic perhaps, but there’s no denying the girl’s a force of nature.

This thing, whatever it is, with Spike defies an easy explanation. Xander knows by now—hell, he always knew—that the line about Spike needing a place to hide was just that, a line. Obviously Spike’s up to something, and that should bother him, but what bothers him more is that Spike seduced him, and more importantly, that he allowed himself to be seduced.

It’s not the whole gay thing … Fine, it’s partly the whole gay thing, but it’s more the vibe he picked up—that Spike wasn’t using him, so much as needing him. The way the vampire arched into his touch, moaned into their kisses … there was something deeper there than there should have been. Which isn’t something Xander thinks either of them expected to find.

Three days after Spike’s disappearance Xander vows that if the vampire comes back, he’ll keep things surface and subtext-free. He likes hanging out with Spike, but there’ll be nothing more than that. Fun while it lasted and everything, but he’s wigged out; no more sleeping with the undead, no matter how mind-blowing it might have been.

Unfortunately, Xander is well aware of the fatal flaw in this decision. When dealing with Spike, nothing ever goes as planned.



Muy Caliente

“I’m starving.” These are Spike’s first words to Xander upon bursting into the motel room, evening of the fourth day.

Xander looks up. “Yeah? Well, go eat someone else. Donated already this month.”

“Mexican?”

“Sounds good.” He tosses away the comic he’s reading.

Spike takes him to a little Mexican restaurant where the food is good, authentic, and spicy as one of Cordy’s tube dresses. They sit outside, on the little patio and watch the crowds. It’s Saturday night and everyone is outside, enjoying the fine weather.

They talk for a little bit. It’s strange to have a normal conversation with Spike of all people, but maybe there’s something about vampires living forever that makes them good listeners.

“See, it was acceptable this way, right? The Scoobies are going to Sunnydale U. in the fall; they’re coasting all summer on that. But me, I’m not going to college. So if I just lay around on the beach all day, I’m suddenly a bum, you know?”

“Been a while since I’ve worked on my tan, pet.” Spike’s brow furrows. “Come to think of it, never have, really. Brighton was about as sunny as my summers got, and that ain’t saying—”

“But they can do whatever they want ’cause they’re students. It’s not fair!”

“Life’s not fair, nor death, come to think of it. Surely you’ve sussed that out by now. ’Sides, your pals need you. The Witch, the Slayer, Dog Boy—hell, even the Watcher. They won’t forget you.”

Spike has that way of cutting through the bullshit and seeing to the heart of a guy’s problems.

Xander deflects more analysis, glancing at the menu. “You like burritos?”

“Field workers ’round here all taste like strawberries. Makes a change.”

The food comes and they eat in silence. Spike watches the pedestrians; Xander watches Spike. It’s fascinating to see a predator study its prey. Fascinating, and more than a little freaky. Sometimes it’s weird to be reminded he’s hanging out with a vampire.

Xander’s not sure if Spike even knows he’s doing it. There’s nothing overt, it’s just Spike being Spike—but that in and of itself is worth seeing. He’s so … sexy. There’s that word again, but there’s just no other way to describe him: Spike’s sexy.

The object of these thoughts sits there toying with his food with an amused smile on lips. His eyes are all intensity and they move between pedestrians, evaluating. Then they slide back to Xander, take in his curious half-smile. “See something you like?” he purrs.

“Not really.”

This only encourages him. “You miss me?”

“No,” Xander says. “But you might have shown up the other night, when I danced. To see the results of your labour.”

Spike cocks his head. “What makes you think I wasn’t there?”

“I know you weren’t. I would have felt it. Hellmouth Spidey-sense, deluxe edition.”

“And you want to know where I was.”

Of course he does, but he’s damned if he’s gonna ask.

“Still searching for this Lucius bloke. Not having much luck, few leads, nothing serious. Guess you were thinking I was a right capricious bloke for up and leaving like that—”

Xander goggles. His jaw drops. “Huh? Did you just use a three syllable word? Okay, Giles.”

Spike looks as if he might flip the table over, but he settles for pushing his chair away and making enough noise in doing so that everyone around them stops eating and stares.

“Right, then. I’m off.” The vampire storms out, duster billowing indignantly in his wake.

Xander stares after him in confusion. Well, that was strange. Where’s the snark? Evil blood-sucking demon lets his victim live—not too surprising given he’s been breathing this long. Stupid idiot insults said demon by comparing him to a Watcher, of all things, and lives—pushing it, but again, not a complete surprise. But … snark. Where’s the snark?

He picks up his burrito and chews thoughtfully. Yup, he decides. Definitely strange.

After paying the bill, he goes to find Spike. He doesn’t have to look far—Spike’s sitting on the hood of the car, black-booted feet swinging back and hitting the bumper with every beat.

Xander’s tempted to say Spike’s being sullen, but can’t understand why Spike would care what he thinks. He manages not to say anything, just gets into the passenger seat and waits.

But Spike doesn’t move.

Great. When he’s not being a homicidal maniac, or an irresistible sex god, he’s worse than a cranky two year old. Is this the kind of gravitas a century of life gives you? Obviously maturity and vampires aren’t concepts that blend well. Plus—hey—just used gravitas in a sentence. Looks like he’s not a complete bum yet after all.

“Uh, Spike?”

The blond vampire sighs heavily. “Fuck off, Harris,” he says, and climbs in beside him. He starts the engine.

Ah. That would be the snark right there.



Psycho Beach Party

They’re still a ways from the motel when Xander becomes aware of the white van trailing them about half a mile back. He glances in the side mirror, and then slants a sideways look at Spike, who’s driving in grim silence. Xander can’t tell if it’s because of the pursuit or if Spike’s still pissed about what he said at the restaurant.

He keeps silent, knowing that anything he’ll say will be superfluous. How many times has he opened his mouth and had Giles give him a sad, superior look? Too many. At first the pitying glances just rolled off him … now they sting a little more each time. So he’s finally learned to keep his mouth shut and his inane comments to himself. Huh. He wonders if it’ll last; suspects it won’t.

It’s when Spike pulls off the highway and takes the DeSoto barreling down a sandy side road that Xander decides stupid questions have become necessary. He turns around in his seat before remembering that the back window is all blacked out, and he won’t be able to see that way. So he sticks his head out the window instead and looks back. The white van not only made the turnoff, it’s right on their tail. Xander can see at least three vamps in the cab, maybe more in the back.

“Spike?”

“On it.” He wrenches the wheel around, so the car spins 180 degrees, tires kicking up clouds of fine-grained sand. He guns the motor, and drives straight at the van.

“Holy crap!” Xander yells. “Spike! What the fuck are you doing?”

“Gonna show these buggers not to mess with me.”

“Hello? Human over here! You hit that van and I’m going to be flattened!”

Spike doesn’t respond, only presses down harder on the gas.

“Shit!” Xander fumbles with the door handle, gets it partway open. A leather-clad arm clamps hard on his shoulder.

“Don’t want to do that, luv.”

“You’re a fucking maniac,” Xander screams at him. “Let me out!”

The van is still coming at them. Through the scrapes and holes in the painted windshield, Xander can see the faces of the vamps; it’s only slightly reassuring that they look as panicked as he.

He struggles against Spike’s hold, but the vampire’s grip is like iron. “Wait for it,” Spike mutters.

When collision appears unavoidable, the vampires flinch first. They suddenly veer off to the right, speeding past the DeSoto, right where Xander would have been had he jumped from the car.

Spike yanks the wheel again, turning them back around. This time it’s the hunted doing the hunting.

Xander feels sick. He can feel the sweat pouring down his brow, knows that Spike must be aware of how shit-scared he was, of how fast his heart is pounding.

Wanna know what Xander Harris is afraid of? Apparently, it’s playing chicken with a group of vampires.

They’re driving along the beach now, alongside the ocean. It’s windy out here and the waves are crashing into the shore in big billowing white cascades of surf. Nice view. Bad time to view it.

When Spike has the car practically tailgating the van, he turns to Xander. “Take the wheel,” he says, and leans out the window.

“What are you doing now?” Xander’s question is practically a moan.

Spike doesn’t answer. He probably doesn’t even hear. He’s already out the window and onto the hood of the car. Xander watches, incredulous, as Spike jumps onto the back of the van, nimbly scrambling up the back door to the roof.

Xander clambers into the driver’s seat and slows the DeSoto to a stop. He gets out, shoes sinking a little into the wet sand. There’s something alarmingly Indiana Jones about all this, he thinks. Leather, bad guys, desert (okay, beach), and fist fights on moving vehicles. Really. That’s what’s happening: Spike’s fighting two of the vampires on the roof of the van, and the effect is pretty cool, especially since when they fall off the edge, they turn to dust in mid-air.

Trust Spike to be carrying a stake. Trust Xander to have forgotten his back at the motel room.

Now the van’s stopped and Spike’s jumping down from the roof, black coat billowing around him like a cape. But this isn’t a good guy fighting the forces of evil, Xander reminds himself, this is the Vampire of Ambiguous Morality—oh, who’s he kidding—the Evil Vampire fighting More Evil Vampires. He really shouldn’t be rooting for either side. But since when did he ever do what he was supposed to?

He grabs a piece of driftwood from the sand and plunges into the fray. The odds aren’t as bad as they were back at the truck stop, but these vampires are tougher, older and more experienced. They aren’t dusting quite as easily as the others.

He’s facing off with a particularly ugly one in a Stetson. It’s got the moves, that’s for sure, and soon Xander’s being pressed hard, stumbling backwards into the surf, nearly losing his balance in the process.

He knows if he goes down, the fight’s as good as over. He’s bleeding in half a dozen places by the time he finally catches a break. The driftwood slides smoothly into the vamp’s flesh, the hat vaporizes a second or two later. Too bad, Xander thinks, pressing a hand to his throbbing side. Willow might’ve liked it for a souvenir.

He stumbles out of the water, along the beach to where he last saw Spike. The vampire’s killed his bad guys, and Xander can see him sticking out of the cab of the van. Bits of garbage and pieces of paper and the general detritus of surveillance are flying everywhere.

Spike’s muttering to himself, his fury increasing with every object thrown. “Where the fuck is it? Why don’t these bloody bastards carry it with them? Why does everything have to be so sodding difficult?” Spike slams the door shut and storms to the edge of the water, every line of his body radiating displeasure.

Xander can see that he’s soaking as well; obviously his wasn’t the only fight that got wet and wild. “What exactly are you looking for, Spike.” Xander asks. He’s bleeding. He has a right to know.

Spike glances at him, barely seeing. “Looking for?”

“Yeah. Looking for.”

Spike grunts something and looks pissed off. Instead of responding, he takes off the leather duster, flings it to the ground. Then he strips off his black t-shirt in one fluid motion and starts to undo his pants.

Xander’s resolve to get some answers crumbles. Naked!Spike isn’t part of his plan. “What are you doing?” It’s more a squeak than anything else.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” Spike replies irritably. “I’m takin’ the wet clothes off, aren’t I? Damn uncomfy.”

Xander looks around in alarm. He looks anywhere but Spike. “You can’t do that!”

Spike stops, fingers stilled on his open fly. “What’s the matter, luv?” he asks. He glances at the ocean in the background. “Too Botticelli for a manly American lad like yourself?” He undoes another button and begins to slide the jeans over lean hips.

“Gah!” Xander turns his back, trying to blot out the image of those little ridges of muscle.

“You are joking, I hope. We’ve already done the nasty. I haven’t grown any new parts since you last licked them.”

Xander doesn’t answer and after this there’s a long silence during which he can hear only the sound of the waves crashing rhythmically against the shore. His back is still turned to the vampire—possibly not the smartest thing he’s ever done, except hey—naked!Spike.

But the silence is getting kinda creepy so he slowly he turns around, eyes set to wince-and-avert mode.

Spike is no longer standing in front of him; he’s a little ways down the beach. The pants are still on, which is all to the good as far as Xander’s concerned, but if the hunch of his shoulders is any sign, the vampire’s clearly doing some brooding.

“Great.” Xander can’t help but say this aloud. Is there some rule that says he’s not allowed to stay mad at vampires?

“So.” He sits down on the sand next to Spike. The moon has come out from behind the clouds and there’s a bluish tint over everything. “Want to talk about it?”

Spike laughs, a short, ugly sound. “Do I want to talk? I know what’s botherin’ me—the question is, what’s your problem?”

Xander’s flustered. Spike’s turned the tables yet again. “W-what do you mean?”

“Oh, come off it. It’s written all over you. You shagged a man and now you’re all worried it’s hair gel and poofdom.”

“Oh, and you’re saying I shouldn’t be?”

“Damn right. We shagged. So bloody what. You still like girls right?”

“Yeah.”

“You still wanna fuck ’em, right?”

“Yeah. Crudely put, but yeah.”

“So what’s the problem?”

Xander squints at him. For once Spike seems to be missing the point, but he’s damned if he’s going to get into what’s really bothering him. Instead he snaps, “I’m taking tips on sexuality from a guy who wears eyeliner? I don’t think so, buddy.”

“Suit yourself, but—” Spike breaks off and leans closer, nostrils flaring. “You’re bleeding.”

“It’s no big deal,” Xander begins, but Spike’s already looming over him, pushing him back into the sand, removing his torn clothing to get a better look at the damage.

Naked, Xander can see that perhaps it’s a bigger deal than he thought. There are long, angry scratches down his torso, a few on his thigh. A bruise that’s gonna hurt tomorrow forming on his hip.

Yet he’s fully aroused and hard as a rock from Spike’s proximity. The vampire notices this with a knowing chuckle, and gives one bleeding gash a long, luxurious lick.

They’re both moaning with the pleasure of it all and Spike continues to press wet, lingering, exploratory kisses all over Xander’s body.

Xander’s hands fist in Spike’s hair and in the waistband of his jeans at the small of his back. His fingers splay along the bunching muscles of Spike’s shoulder.

Spike moves lower, laving his tongue against Xander aching cock. The waves wash against their entwined legs, soothing and warm. And when Xander comes, crying out, thrusting into Spike’s mouth, he feels himself melting away, becoming one with the salt and the tides and the lonely cries of the gulls.



What Xander Learned on his Summer Vacation 1

They’re lying in bed, and Xander’s curled up against Spike, idly tracing a finger along those incredible abs. His hand slides down Spike’s slick flesh; the feel of him is marvelous, all smooth and sleek and hard.

“What’s this called?” Xander asks, licking the line of muscle above Spike’s hipbone.

“Dunno.” An evil grin. “The triumphal arch?”

Xander’s lapping tongue moves lower, teasing Spike’s eager cock. “Nah,” he says. “Too formal.”

“Gateway to a thousand delights?”

Xander smiles against Spike’s inner thigh. “Only a thousand?”

“Give a bloke a break, pet. We’ve barely gotten started yet.”

Xander looks up along the length of Spike’s sprawled body. “This wasn’t supposed to happen again,” he says.

Spike just laughs.

When they’ve subsided, finally, Xander drifts off to sleep, except all his dreams sound like Spike.

Yeah, oh yeah, right there, all hot and dripping and oh God—Mmm, yesss, do that again, pet, ahhh, your cock, yeah, just like that.



That Thing

He’s just getting off his shift and he’s standing around in the backroom, talking to some of his workmates, when Spike comes prowling in. Of course the words “Staff Only” would mean nothing to him.

Maddie gives Xander a sardonic look. But it’s not a mean one: things have been better between them since Xander danced the dance of the Hot Stud. “Friend of yours?”

“No,” he says, just as Spike says, “Yes,” and reaches out to run a caressing hand along his cheek.

Ricky and his boyfriend Gerry—also a dancer—are there as well. Predicably, they are very interested in Spike.

“Did you see Xander dance when Ricky was sick?” Gerry whistles. “He sizzled! Boy’s wasted on dishes!”

“Xander needs some practice,” Spike drawls. “But we’re going to work on it, aren’t we, pet?” His arm snakes around Xander’s waist.

“Spike!” Xander protests, and tries to pull away.

“Spike, eh?” laughs Gerry. “I’d like to know how you got that nickname!”

Spike’s hand rubs down the back of Xander’s neck to toy with the hairs at the nape of his neck. The sensation’s akin to an electric current waking every one of his senses. “And if I weren’t busy tonight, love, I’d be delighted to show you.”

“Okay, that’s it. Spike, we’ve got to go.”

“We do?” When he wants to, Spike can do an innocent that makes Mother Theresa look like the Whore of Calcutta. This is not such a time. There are worlds of innuendo in those two simple words, and to his mortification, Xander feels his skin flush red with embarrassment.

“Yes,” Xander grinds out. “Remember? The thing?”

“Oh, right. The thing.”

“Is this thing open to guests?” Gerry asks with a wide grin.

Leaning in, Spike winks at Gerry. “He’s a bit new to all this,” he says. “Maybe next time.”

The minute they’re out in the parking lot, Xander turns on Spike. “Okay, what the fuck was that about?”

He’s unperturbed. “Just playing around. No need to get your knickers in a twist.”

See, now this is the problem with having sex with an undead smartass: he’s just not going to be sensitive to the whole sexuality in violent upheaval angst.

Xander considers arguing more, but he’s in Oxnard and when his car’s fixed he’ll never see Maddie or Ricky or Gerry or any of them again. And Spike’s cool fingers feel really good against his skin. So instead he says, “So I need further instruction, do I? Thought you taught me everything you knew.”

Spike’s smile is slow and hot and makes Xander’s insides melt. Screw angst, Xander thinks, and smiles back.



What Xander Learned on his Summer Vacation 2

Blunt teeth graze the underside of Xander’s cock. His back arches off the bed, hips thrusting upward into Spike’s mouth, hands clutching at the sheets, legs spasming uncontrollably. Oh, God. He’s never felt like this.

“S’good, yeah?”

“Oh, oh,” Xander moans. And that’s all the answer he can manage.

But Spike seems to know exactly what Xander needs. His clever fingers are everywhere, running down Xander’s chest, circling and pinching his nipples into thrilled awareness, slipping between his thighs to touch him there and there. Rubbing, kneading, pressing, and ah, probing gently—

“Spike,” Xander pants.

“Shh,” Spike whispers against his neck. “I’m gonna fuck you in a minute. You want me to fuck you, Xander?”

“Oh, God yes.”



Zeppo Who?

Like any bubble, this one has to burst. It happens on a Tuesday.

But before this, the day is going pretty well. Xander’s done washing dishes and he’s sitting at a booth in The Fabulous Ladies’ Night Club, sipping on a beer and adding up his earnings on a napkin.

He’s both surprised and elated, but since he flunked Mr. Gleason’s Grade 10 math, this doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

As far as he can tell, however, he’s more than three-quarters of the way towards getting his car fixed. Working car = vacation. Finally.

He leans back and lolls his head on the cushions of the seat. God, he’s achy today. But it’s that ache you get after really amazing sex, so it’s all to the good. He finds himself wondering where Spike is. The vampire left just before dawn, very excited. Xander thinks maybe he finally found the guy he was looking for.

Xander pities this Lucius.

There’s something to be said for loyalty, and Spike’s certainly loyal. His girlfriend cheats on him, so he tracks the bastard who did her all over the country and kicks his ass. There’s a certain poetry to that, something Xander, who’s constantly surprised anyone likes him in that way, can really appreciate.

Huh. That last thought seems off. He puzzles through it, and realizes that this is no longer the case. Huh.

That deserves beer, so Xander chugs most of it back and thinks some more. It’s taken weeks of dishwashing, complete and utter isolation from everything he’s known and loved, and countless dollars in the waistband, but Alexander Lavelle Harris is actually okay with himself.

Sure, he’s still insecure—isn’t everyone? But he feels like something inside him’s changed. He’s not the Zeppo. He’s not anything. He’s just himself.



Crimes, Recriminations, and a Conclusion

He’s on his third passage-to-manhood celebratory beverage when the conversation in the booth behind his gets interesting.

“You hear what happened today?”

“The break-in at Lucius’s? He’s fit to be tied.”

“No, he ain’t. They can’t find him. Heard they think he was dusted.”

Xander’s eyes widen. Still clutching his beer, he sinks lower in his seat, better to eavesdrop. Sounds like Spike’s okay. Sounds like Spike did it.

“You hear what the thief took?”

“Yeah. The map, all the research. Took years for ol’ Lucius to get all that stuff. Well-guarded and everything. He was gonna make his move on Sunnydale soon.”

Xander nearly drops the beer.

“They knew that someone was after it. But looks like they couldn’t stop him.” A sigh. “Guess the lucky bastard’s gonna get the prize.”

His companion laughs. “Sunnydale’s a tough town. He’ll need it. Good luck to him, I say. Not like Lucius had a better use for it; he just wanted to go to Bermuda and work on his tan.”

They laugh. Xander dashes out of the bar, not even stopping to dust the vamps. Something tells him that if he doesn’t find Spike now, he’s not going to get the chance.

Spike glances up from his packing when the door slams open. Apparently he’s been keeping extra clothes in Xander’s dresser. Who knew?

“You lied to me?” Xander comes in and shuts the door. He’s trying to play it cool.

“Well, yeah,” Spike says, like this should have been self-explanatory. He gestures to himself. “Evil vampire.”

“But—” Xander feels unaccountably betrayed, though he knows deep down that he shouldn’t.

“What? I’m supposed to tell you everything about my evil plan? This is how the White Hats think?” Spike sounds disgusted. “How many times have you beaten me? It’s a blow to the old ego, I’m tellin’ you.”

Shaking his head, Xander points an accusing finger at the vampire. “You … seduced me.”

“Oooh, so that’s what this is really about. Seduction now, is it? Poor little innocent Harris, losing his precious cherry to the Big Bad. Can’t wear white at his wedding. Cry me another one, you sodding ponce.”

“That’s not what I meant, you bastard, and you know it.” He’s still got his calculations napkin clenched in his other hand.

Spike affects surprise. “I do? All I know, luv, is that you were practically beggin’ for it. So I took pity on you and scratched your itch, satisfied your curiousity. And this is the thanks I get. Should be bloody grateful I didn’t bleed you dry!”

“I could have called Buffy down here at any time, Spike, you know that. Once phone call while you were sleeping in my room, and you would have been dust.”

“But you didn’t, did you? You didn’t call the Slayer.” His eyebrows raise, interest overcoming irritation. “An’ why is that, I wonder? Embarrassed you couldn’t take me alone? Afraid to have the girl of your dreams save your sorry ass yet again? Or something else, mebbe?”

“Whatever you’re planning, Spike, there’ll be no more free passes. You even think about going back to Sunnydale, Buffy’s gonna stake your ass and I’ll have a front row seat.”

“Afraid I’ll tell her about the noise you make when you come?”

Xander closes his eyes. “If I have to, Spike, I’ll tell her myself.”

The sound of slow clapping causes them to open again. The vampire is leaning against the door frame, a strange, unreadable smile on his face. “So, you’ve the wrinklies after all, Harris.” He drops his hands and suddenly the smile becomes inviting. His head tilts. “You’ll do.”

“She’s going to stake your ass,” Xander says.

“She’s gonna try.”

There’s a pause, as both men regard each other silently.

“I hate you, Spike.”

“I hate you, too, ducks.”

There’s another pause. “Got time for one last shag before I hit the road,” Spike says.

Xander considers this. “Damn your sinister attraction.”

Spike looks smug. “Yeah, ’s a bitch, inn’it?”


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