"Oh, fuck, it figures." Xander muttered under his breath.
"You know that guy or something, Harris?" John turned to smirk at him.
The Bronze was packed full, but Spike's platinum locks were easy to spot. Xander winced, knowing what was coming and hating that there was no way for him to get out of it. He didn't bother to answer John's question, knowing that the other man had already chosen his victim.
Jesus, why had Xander ever made that damn bet! He had notoriously bad luck. Evidenced by the fact that Spike of all people was here, tonight, to witness (and probably participate) in his humiliation.
"There's your man, then, Harris. Have at 'em." John snickered, slapping Xander on the back. "Remember, not a word."
Xander wove his way through the crowd until he found himself in front of Spike on the dance floor. Swallowing down his pride, he began to dance, undulating his hips and moving closer to the bleached vamp.
"Oi! What are you on about, Harris?" Spike paused, staring at Xander incredulously.
"Nothing. Just wanted to dance." Xander shrugged, eyes darting everywhere but at Spike's face.
The music swirled around them as Xander continued gyrating to the beat, face flushing with embarrassment as Spike continued to stare skeptically. Xander began to sweat, and for a moment even considered making a break for the exit, but he knew John was still watching. And if he didn't go through with this now, he'd end up doing something far more humiliating later. Not that there would be anything much worse than this.
Spike finally gave up, throwing one last glance around the room, as if to see whether there were darker forces at work. Xander breathed a sigh of relief, and closed his eyes, trying to pretend that he were somewhere else, doing something else. He had at least another ten minutes before he could successfully leave the dance floor without any further repercussions.
The bitch of it was that if this were anything else, anything besides a stupid lost bet, Xander wouldn't actually mind being here.
He'd never, Jesus, he'd never thought about Spike that way before. At least not until the vampire had moved in with him after Buffy's death. And it hadn't happened all at once. He'd been opposed, more than opposed to Spike moving in. But Giles and even Willow and Tara had pointed out how much easier it would be to have them all together. To be able to reach Spike when they needed him, especially with Buffy . . . gone.
So he'd reluctantly agreed, expecting the vamp to do a disappearing act the first chance he got. After all, Buffy wasn't around to impress anymore, right?
But he hadn't.
Instead, Spike had been the big brother Dawn had never had. The big brother that she desperately needed. And not only that, he'd looked out for all of them. He made sure to walk the girls home every night, reminded Giles to refresh the wards on his apartment and the Magic Box, and when he thought Xander wasn't paying attention he'd sneak out to replace the flowers on Buffy's grave.
It was months of watching this, seeing that Spike wasn't going anywhere, that Spike was actually keeping his promise that softened Xander's heart. And it was then that Xander actually started to talk to Spike.
At first it was difficult. Spike didn't want to talk. He didn't believe Xander wanted anything more than to get rid of him for good. And then one night Xander came home with a fresh bouquet of flowers and handed them over to Spike.
"Gee, Harris, I'm touched." Spike snarked.
"They're not for you," Xander explained, keeping his voice light, his eyes turned away. The arrangement wasn't the prettiest thing he'd ever seen, but . . . "Joyce told her once that they reminded her of Buffy. Delphinium, they're called. I remembered because Buffy'd been so, I don't know, surprised by it. Her mom said they meant something like fast, or swift, maybe?" Xander shrugged, still looking away. "Just thought you could take them with you tonight, you know, if you wanted."
He left the room then, not bothering to wait for Spike's reaction, or maybe afraid to. But the next night, when they sat down in front of the t.v. and Xander asked Spike about his day the vampire actually answered, sans the sarcastic wit.
With his eyes closed, Xander could almost believe that he and Spike were there because they both wanted to be. Not because he lost some stupid bet, and Spike was just tolerating his presence. Not because John was watching somewhere off to the side, ready to humiliate Xander the first chance he got. Not because Spike was too, maybe the best word would be cautious, about their new found friendship to ask Xander whether he'd finally gone completely over the bend.
No, with his eyes closed, Xander could believe that they were there because he'd finally gotten up the guts to tell Spike how he felt. To tell Spike that he not only admired him and genuinely liked him, but that he wanted him, too. But that was a revelation he was sure Spike neither wanted to hear, nor would he welcome, from Xander.
The music clicked over, and Xander began to laugh, his eyes flying open.
"Eighties night, mate." Spike grinned, while Boy George's voice floated around them singing about love and dreams of red, gold, and green.
Xander remembered the night he'd first realized how he felt about Spike. It was the six-month anniversary of Buffy's death and they were both a little drunk, a little wired. They'd gotten a couple of six-packs and sat on the floor of his apartment, just talking. He remembered feeling so much less alone with Spike there.
He'd had a lot of dreams, a lot of adolescent fantasies about Buffy. Some had been sexual, hell he'd been a teenage boy, hadn't he? But others had just been him wanting to be the white knight, wanting to be the one Buffy turned to when she needed someone. Those fantasies had been more about being someone, rather than being with Buffy.
And somehow he found himself spilling all of these revelations out to Spike. And when he was done, he remembered holding his breath, waiting for the Big Bad to tell him what a loser he was. But instead, Spike had sighed, and taken another swig of his beer. Then he'd said the words that Xander would never forget.
"Xan, you are somebody. Always have been. You're a hell of a lot braver than any white knight that's for fucking sure. You don't need any bloody armor surrounding you before you charge in to save the day. You just do it because you have to, because you're you. Anya knew it, so did Buffy."
Those words hurt in a way that nothing ever had before. Not because Spike's words were mean or nasty. Not because Spike had lied to cheer Xander up. No, they hurt because they were true, at least to Spike. And it was painful because Xander had wanted to hear that for so long. Not those exact words, but just the fact that someone believed in him. Believed he was worth something, that he was someone. And to hear those words from Spike . . .
Xander remembered realizing at that moment that those words hurt so much because they were from Spike. Because he'd been in some subconscious holding pattern for months wanting, Jesus, wanting something. He'd never realized before how much he'd wanted Spike's respect, his admiration, until that very moment.
And the pain, hell, the pain was from being close, so close, to what he really wanted. And not knowing how to actually reach out and grab it.
So, he'd fallen back on his old coping mechanism and he'd argued. "Yeah, right. Anya thought I was so great, that's why she left me."
"She didn't leave you. She left the Hellmouth."
All the wind had gone out of Xander's sails at Spike's comment. "I know." He'd sighed, grabbing up his own bottle of beer and gulping furiously. "I don't blame her. It's hard - facing death, you know? I mean, hell, if Buffy could die, what makes the rest of us think we stand a chance, right?" He stared at the floor, at the shoes on his feet, at the way the shaggy carpet rose up around the leg of his jeans. "I always kind of thought if anyone was gonna go first, it'd be me, you know? Hell, I'm ordinary guy, right? What are the chances I'd be the last one standing?" Xander shrugged. "I never thought it would be Buffy. Never."
"You thought about it a lot then, Xan?"
"Yeah, well, I guess. I mean, I'm not really afraid of death, if that's what you're asking. I just figured that it was kind of inevitable, you know?"
"So every night when we go out patrollin' you figure it could be your last?"
"Well, geez. It's pretty morbid when you put it that way. I mean, I guess, I just don't really think about it. I just do what I have to do and I figure if it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen."
"That's why you're more than just 'ordinary guy', Xan. Because even though you know you're facing death every night, you keep coming back. You keep fighting. That makes you more."
Despite himself, Xander was having fun. The song, Spike, Xander almost forgot all about John until they were walking back to Spike's table and suddenly John was there.
"Have fun dancing with your girlfriend, Harris?" John laughed.
"Geez, don't be such a jerk, John." Fuck, if he weren't Xander's supervisor, Xander would've punched the guy in the nose.
"Who the hell is this arse?"
Xander sighed, "Spike this is John. John, Spike."
Spike was looking back and forth between them as if he was trying to figure something out. Finally he turned to John, a strange look on his face. "Xander's not gay, mate."
"Yeah?" John choked on his laughter. He'd obviously had a few drinks while they'd been dancing. "I noticed you weren't too upset by the way he was cozying up to you."
Spike's scarred brow lifted and he shot Xander a quick look before answering. "You got a problem if I wasn't?"
"Holy, fuck! Did you know your 'friend' was gay, Harris?" John laughed drunkenly. Then he turned to Xander, eyeing him up and down. "Maybe you are, too, huh? You a closet freak, Harris?"
And then it was like everything was moving in slow motion, except Xander couldn't do anything to stop it. Spike's hand shot out and connected with John's face sending the asshole sprawling to the floor. Spike's own features twisted in agony as he fell to his knees, vamping out as the pain erupted in his skull.
"Spike! Jesus!" Xander was next to him in a heartbeat, trying to keep onlookers at bay while he helped Spike to stand. "You didn't have to do that," he admonished though secretly he was thrilled at Spike's caveman impression.
Spike only shook his head, grimacing when even that small gesture left him reeling.
By the time they got home, Spike's headache had receded to normal levels and he was able to walk without Xander's help.
"So, what the hell was that, Xander?" Spike asked as he collapsed onto one of the bar stools setup along the kitchen pass through.
"What?" Xander gave Spike his innocent face.
"Don't play the idiot!" And suddenly Spike was in his face, pressing him up against the wall with his proximity. "Was it all some kind of stupid fucking joke?"
Xander was breathing hard. Spike's eyes were sparking yellow amid the blue, and he could tell that Spike was just barely holding on to his control. "No! No. I mean, John's my supervisor at work. And I made this stupid bet. And you know how I always lose! We we're just supposed to go to the club, and he was supposed to pick some guy for me to dance with. He just wanted to humiliate me, you know? He's a jerk. A homophobic jerk, that's all." Xander babbled, trying to soothe Spike's ire. Except as he continued talking he could've sworn he saw hurt flicker across Spike's features, and it stopped him cold, all the words falling away and leaving him silent and unsure.
"A bet." Spike closed his eyes and took one long unnecessary breath. "I thought . . . fuck. Doesn't matter." And then he was turning away, pulling away from Xander, except Xander didn't want to let him go.
Instead, Xander reached up and captured Spike's face between his hands, forcing the vampire to look at him. And then he leaned forward and kissed him. Just like that.
But instead of fireworks and the breathy moan Xander hoped for, he got a snarl and Spike pulling away. "I guess you don't . . . I thought maybe . . . I-I'm sorry." And he cursed himself for the tears that gathered in his eyes even as he turned away so that Spike wouldn't see. He hated himself for it, but he couldn't help it. Because stupid, stupid Xander was wrong again. "S-sorry." Jesus, he was an idiot.
He pushed away from the wall, away from Spike, intent on getting out of there, embarrassment and humiliation burning through every pore of his body. And he had to laugh silently at that, because it looked like John had won after all. He'd managed to make this the worst night of Xander's life.
He made it to the kitchen, and then felt even more like an idiot, because what the hell was he going to do in there? He could hear Spike still out in the living room breathing, which only made Xander feel even worse, to have made Spike angry enough, or embarrassed enough, to fall back on such a human habit. And now he was trapped in the kitchen because he couldn't very well go back out there, not even long enough to run through on his way to the bedroom.
So he started opening cupboards and looking through shelves, and finally found something to do. He grabbed a bowl and some cocoa-puffs. So, at least if Spike came in he wouldn't look like a complete and total fool just standing around. He poured the cereal and the milk, then got a spoon.
Christ, what a fuck up he was. His dad would have a field day laughing at him if he'd known what a catastrophe of a night Xander'd had. He couldn't even get being a fucking queer right, could he? Or maybe dad wouldn't laugh. Maybe he'd just kick Xander in the balls and tell him what a complete waste of space he was. It wasn't anything he hadn't heard before. It wasn't anything he hadn't believed before either.
Except, that was the real kicker, wasn't it? Xander hadn't believed. At least not for the past few months. Not with Spike there telling him that it wasn't true.
Xander looked down to see that he'd smashed every puff in his cereal to bits and the milk had turned a very disgusting chalky chocolate. Yup, he'd killed it dead. No more chocolatey menace. You could just call him "Xander, slayer of cereals." Or, hee, "Xander, the cereal killer." And if that wasn't the worst pun he'd ever heard, then he'd fucking eat the cereal.
Hysterical laughter bubbled up, but before it could escape it somehow transformed into hysterical sobs and Xander found himself gulping large draughts of air, trying to hold them at bay. Because he wasn't going to cry. No. Not where Spike could hear him, anyway. He'd been humiliated enough tonight, and he didn't need to add that as well.
But then Spike was there, and it was too late to hide the tears. So he sucked it up and just apologized again. At least maybe, he could keep Spike's friendship. "Spike, don't say anything okay? Look, I'm sorry. I should've refused the bet. I should've told John to go to Hell. I should've done a lot of things different. And I'm not making any excuses, I know I totally fucked up. I guess though . . . I guess I didn't want to refuse the bet because, because then I'd have an excuse, you know, to dance with you. To get close to you. And I'm sorry, 'cause I know now what a stupid idea that was. And . . . and I'm sorry, okay? I'm just sorry." Xander knew he should say more, that he should tell Spike how much his friendship meant to him, but he'd run out of steam and so he just sat, staring at the linoleum tile on the kitchen floor.
Then softly from across the room, "You wanted to dance with me, Xan?"
"Spike, I'm sorry. Please, don't hate me."
Xander's heart caught in his throat when Spike's cool hand landed on his thigh. "I don't hate you, Xan." He looked up to find Spike staring intently back at him. "I thought . . . I thought you were just playing with me."
"What? How could you - ? Why?"
"I just didn't think you could . . . care about me, not that way." Spike whispered, eyes still locked on Xander's.
"So, it's . . . it's okay if I do?" Xander asked, hope and wonder and awe coloring his voice.
"Yeah, 's more than okay, luv." And then Spike was kissing him.
The chair creaked and groaned beneath him as he adjusted to Spike's weight on his lap. He could feel the insistent throb of Spike's erection snuggled against his own, and he moaned, pulling the vampire even closer.
Spike's hips were undulating against his, and Xander couldn't help remembering the giddy feeling he'd had on the dance floor. Every time their legs had brushed together, every time he'd gotten close enough to smell leather and smoke and Spike, Xander's cock had throbbed in his jeans. And now, Spike was here, and they were kissing and groping and rubbing together.
"Oh, god, Spike." Xander wanted more than anything to stay there forever, tasting Spike. He shifted, trying to get even closer, trying to create even more friction, and then - wham! They were on the floor, the kitchen chair splintered beneath them.
"Jesus, luv! Are you okay?" Spike's hands were all over him, concern darkening the blue of his eyes.
"Yeah," Xander couldn't help smiling. "More than okay."
They never made it to the bed that first night, both of them too impatient to go more than the few feet it took to get to the living room couch. Xander was breathing hard, anxious and aroused and oh, so happy.
"Spike, I've never, I mean - "
"Shh, luv, I know."
They were naked now, sprawled together on the couch, their limbs entwined as they kissed and caressed one another. Spike's mouth felt so hot against him, even though Xander knew it should probably be the opposite. Except that everything about Spike felt hot, his mouth, his hands, even the looks the vampire was giving him.
Xander wanted to explore all of Spike, wanted to touch every piece of flesh available to him. He started with the nape of his neck, letting Spike's soft curls wrap themselves around his fingers as he kissed the vampire, slow and deep. And then he moved to trace the planes of Spike's back, loving the feel of rippling muscle as Spike made his own explorations of Xander's body. He shifted to drop gentle kisses against Spike's shoulder, his hands moving to the curve of Spike's hip, and then the sweet swell of his buttocks.
"Mmm, god, can't believe you're really here." Xander whispered as he moved to take one of Spike's nipples in his mouth. The vampire moaned and clutched Xander's head to his chest, arching against Xander's teasing tongue. Xander suckled first one nipple then the other, loving the restless way Spike moved beside him.
"Ah, luv, been wanting this, wanting you for so long." Spike groaned.
Spike pushed him back against the couch cushions then, maneuvering so that he was laying atop Xander's prone form. And then he shimmied lower, his mouth only inches away from Xander's cock. "Spike, oh, fuck!" Xander's cock jerked and twitched in anticipation.
"Just relax, luv, and let me taste you."
"Oh, god." Xander's eyes nearly rolled to the back of his head, as Spike slipped the head of his cock between those pink, pink lips. The feeling was so intense, Xander cried out. He'd had other blow jobs before, other people's lips around his cock, but knowing it was Spike - seeing Spike there, so obviously enjoying sucking Xander's cock was an incredibly erotic experience.
Then Spike's fingers were in his curls, playing at the base of his erection and sending shivers up and down Xander's spine. And when they moved lower, cupping his balls, rolling and massaging his sac, Xander didn't think he could take anymore. He tugged at Spike's hair, "Spike, stop! Oh, fuck, if you don't stop, I'm going to come!"
Spike's lips popped off his erection with a wet sucking sound, and Xander relaxed slightly. He looked down to find Spike licking his lips seductively, "Delicious, luv."
"Oh, god." It looked as if Xander's vocabulary had been reduced to just those two words.
Spike shimmied back up his body, their cocks now pressing firmly against one another. Spike kissed him, delving deep into his mouth, tasting every inch of him. Xander's hips bucked involuntarily when he felt Spike's hand wrap around his erection once more. Except now, Spike had a hold of them both, clasping their cocks together and stroking them up and down in an excruciatingly slow rhythm.
"Oh, god. Oh, Jesus." Great, he'd added another word to his repertoire.
But then Spike released them, and began to thrust against Xander's body. The most erotic sight though, was seeing the look on Spike's face. His teeth were clenched, his jaw muscles tight, and he looked almost as if he were in pain. Except that Xander knew he wasn't. Xander knew Spike was just as close to coming as he was. And just that thought had Xander going over the edge. Spike's hips brushing softly against his own, their chests rubbing together, and the sparse curls scattered across Spike's torso teasing Xander's nipples.
Then Spike was coming, too, and Xander's world narrowed down to the look in Spike's eyes, to the feel of Spike spurting against him. "Yes, luv, yes." Spike ground out between clenched teeth, and Xander just held on tighter.
And then, when it was all over, the best part was that Spike just lay there, holding him and whispering about how wonderful and beautiful and perfect Xander had been.
And Xander believed him.