The jingling bell announced Xander’s entrance into the Magic Box. "Do I have something on my face?" he demanded, jumping down the stairs and bouncing to a halt beside the table, turning his face this way and that for his friends’ inspection. He gazed seriously around the table as everyone looked up at him with varying degrees of surprise and confusion reflected in their expressions. "Well?" he asked impatiently.
"No, Xander, there is nothing on your face," Giles replied cautiously. "Why do you ask?"
"‘Cause these two really pretty girls were staring at me just now out there." He pointed towards the street. "It was kinda creepy." He shuddered as he took his jacket off and tossed it over the back of the chair before pulling it out and sitting down. "Are you sure there’s nothing on my face?"
"W-were they demons?" Tara asked shyly.
Xander scowled at her.
"W-well just b-because you have a reputa— N-never mind," she finished self-consciously.
"It was a good question," Willow assured her softly, patting her hand.
"Maybe they were just looking for a cute guy to spend the holiday with," Buffy offered with a suggestive waggle of her eyebrows.
"Thought they were staring at Harris," Spike drawled from where he was sprawled on the stairs to the upper level, nervously rolling an unlit cigarette between his fingers.
"Shut up, Spike," everyone chorused.
"I hate Valentine’s Day," Xander muttered.
"Yeah," Buffy agreed. "Me, too."
"It’s just a way for big companies to make more money," Xander stated emphatically.
"Exactly," Buffy snorted. "You can’t commercialize love."
"They’ve brainwashed people into thinking that if they don’t spend their hard earned cash on flowers and candy and candlelight dinners they’re no-good schmucks! Like these companies need more money, anyway," Xander said, on a roll.
"You sing it, sister!" Buffy said. "Er, brother," she corrected off Xander’s look.
"And it makes people who aren’t currently in a relationship feel bad about themselves," he ended morosely, slumping in his chair.
"Plus it’s stupid," Buffy added, joining him in slump-age.
"I kind of like it," Willow said with a big smile at Tara.
Xander and Buffy glared at her. "My point has been made," he said.
"I know something that will make you feel better," Giles said, rearranging his glasses on his face.
Xander perked up. "Donuts?" he asked.
Giles frowned. "Research," he said, sliding a book across the table. "It’ll take your mind off your other worries."
"Uh huh," Xander said disbelievingly, but reached for the book anyway and flipped it open. "What are we looking for?" he asked.
Buffy gave Xander the description of the demon she’d killed the night before and he started looking through his book for a mention of it. Once in a while he’d grow bored and look up from his reading to glance around the table at the others, all of whom seemed absorbed in the material before them—except Buffy, who looked just as bored as he felt. A couple times he caught Spike staring at him, his brow creased with confusion, but the vampire quickly looked away when Xander’s gaze slid over him.
Xander looked up once more, and this time when his eyes met Spike’s they held. Spike had really pretty blue eyes, he thought, startling himself with the direction his thoughts had taken. What was he thinking? When Xander returned his attention to the book, he found that it couldn’t hold his interest. He surreptitiously raised his eyes without moving his head and gazed at Spike. The blond vampire was wearing his usual outfit, but something seemed different about him. Something that had captured Xander’s interest.
Xander realized he was spending more time staring at Spike than reading the book and tried to force his attention back to the demons on the page, rather than the demon sitting across from him on the stairs. So intense was his concentration, that he squeaked in an embarrassing display of fright when Buffy slammed her book shut.
"Time to get going," she announced.
"Patrol?" Giles asked.
"Dance," Buffy replied, staring at Giles as if he had two heads.
"Dance?" the Watcher repeated.
"Valentine’s Day dance at The Bronze," Willow interpreted for him.
"I thought you didn’t like the trappings of Valentine’s Day?" Giles asked Buffy.
"I might like whatever it is you just said better after the dance," Buffy said as she stood. "Besides, I bought this new outfit, can’t let it go to waste."
"Of course not," Giles agreed facetiously.
"Wanna come?" Xander invited.
Giles looked horrified. "I-I think not," he finally got out.
Xander grinned evilly at him. "You sure?"
"Quite," Giles stated.
Xander stood and put his jacket on, and his eyes wandered over to Spike while the girls got ready to leave. He felt warm and tingly when Spike just stared back at him, and briefly wondered if he was coming down with something.
At The Bronze things took an even stranger turn. Despite Buffy’s glare and Willow’s look of confusion when he joined them, Spike pulled a chair up to their table and seated himself beside Xander. While the four of them chatted over their sodas, Xander felt Spike’s eyes on him like a physical weight, and his body reacted to the knowledge of Spike’s gaze—his heart rate sped up, his breaths came faster, and he began to sweat.
He strove to keep his eyes on one of the girls, or the dancing throng, or the scarred tabletop, but often felt them move toward Spike as if they were being tugged in that direction by forces outside his control. The sight of the vampire sprawled easily in the uncomfortable wooden chair—black jean-clad legs spread wide in invitation, tight black t-shirt emphasizing firm chest and stomach—heightened Xander’s response. Despite his relaxed pose, Spike reminded Xander of a caged tiger, muscles coiled and ready to spring at any moment.
When the thumping beat emanating from the speakers got to be too much to resist, the three girls got up and headed for the dance floor. Xander, driven by the bizarre pull towards Spike, declined the offer to join them. However, despite his freakish urge to be near the vampire, Xander couldn’t think of anything to say to him, so they sat in an uncomfortable silence. Xander stared at his drink until Spike’s growl startled him. He looked up in time to see the back of a girl with long, curly, light brown hair rapidly disappearing into the crowd.
"What was that all about?" he asked.
"What?" Spike responded in wide-eyed innocence.
Xander snorted in disbelief. "You can’t possibly think that look’s gonna work," he stated.
Xander rolled his eyes. "You growled just now. Why?" he asked, taking another tack. When it looked like Spike was trying to think of a lie to fob off on him, he went on. "At her." He inclined his head in the direction the girl had fled.
Spike pursed his lips and refused to look at Xander. "Stupid bint was looking for a prat to dance with and take her home," he replied heatedly.
Xander raised his eyebrows and couldn’t help the small grin that crept across his face. "You could’ve just said ‘no’," he suggested lightly.
Spike opened his mouth to respond, then snapped it shut.
"What?" Xander asked.
Spike remained silent. Annoyed, Xander reached out and pinched the vampire.
"Ow!" Spike yelped and slapped at Xander’s hand.
"What aren’t you telling me?" he asked.
"Not me," Spike said bitterly.
"Huh?" Xander asked, completely confused.
"She didn’t want to dance with me."
"Had her eyes on you," Spike muttered.
Spike’s eyes slid toward Xander, and then away again.
"She wanted to dance with *me*? Wait! And you scared her away? Why would you do that?" He forced himself not to yell.
Spike shrugged. "Don’t know."
"You... You don’t know?" Xander asked incredulously. "What do you mean, you don’t know?" Despite his best efforts, his voice was raised. He found himself getting angry—frustration that Spike wasn’t answering him combined with the strange attraction the vampire was exerting over him.
"Hey, don’t ignore me!" He grabbed Spike’s arm and shook him.
"Watch it, Harris!" Spike growled, pulling his arm away. "Not ignoring you. I just..."
"What?" Xander entreated.
"Didn’t want you to dance with her," he mumbled quickly.
"You what?" Xander wasn’t sure if he’d heard the vampire correctly.
"You heard me," Spike said, scowling at the table. "And it’s all your fault!" he blustered.
Xander’s mouth dropped open. "My fault?" he squeaked, unsure how exactly they’d gotten around to this point. "How do you...?"
"Yes!" Spike warmed to his topic. "All your fault. I was just sitting there minding my own business when you come in all..."
"Nothing," Spike snarled.
"No, tell me," Xander insisted, partly outraged and partly intrigued.
"All...sweet and tempting," Spike ground out between clenched teeth.
Xander’s eyes grew big. "Me? I’m not..."
"Don’t deny it," Spike spat in disgust as he looked Xander over. "Those big, brown eyes, those full, pouty lips, those strong, manly arms..."
"L-lips?" Xander squeaked.
"You...bastard!" Spike snapped angrily.
"L-lips?" Xander repeated, stunned.
Spike leaned closer and grabbed Xander’s arm. "What did you *do* to me?" he hissed.
"Me?" Xander squeaked again. He hated that! "I didn’t *do* anything," he insisted, forcing a deeper, masculine timbre into his voice, and then ruined it by licking his lips nervously.
Spike groaned, and leaned in even closer. "Xander, need to taste you," he moaned, and then claimed Xander’s lips.
Xander’s eyes flew open wide, and the rest of his body froze. Spike was *kissing* him! *Spike* was kissing him! He waited for the disgust to kick in so he could push Spike away and glare furiously at him. It didn’t happen. Instead, he noted how Spike’s lips felt soft, yet firm against his own, and how the vampire gently dragged his tongue over Xander’s lips, and then found himself responding to the kiss.
He parted his lips, and Spike’s tongue slipped between them, danced over his own, and then thoroughly mapped his mouth. Xander moaned. His hands came up to grasp Spike’s arms, as much to hold the vampire close as to steady himself, and his fingers wrapped around his biceps, kneading them as he deepened the kiss. His tongue wound around Spike’s, and then he sucked on it.
Suddenly Spike pulled away and just stared at him with an equal mixture of horror and desire burning in his eyes. "Soddin’ Hell!" he swore, and then stood, pulling out of Xander’s grip, and grabbed his duster. He stared at Xander for a moment longer, and then turned and strode away from him, pushing his way through the crowd.
Xander stared after him, his mind buzzing with thoughts of Spike—how he looked, how he felt, how he tasted, fingers absently pressed to swollen lips. He was startled out of his reverie when the girls returned to the table, laughing about the guy Buffy had been dancing with.
"Where’s Spike?" Willow asked when she was seated beside her girlfriend.
"I, um, I don’t know," Xander said. "I think he left."
"Good," Buffy commented.
Willow looked at her, but didn’t say anything. They chatted, bought another round of drinks for the thirsty girls, and then Willow took Xander out onto the dance floor. When a slow song came on, he led her back to the table so she could get Tara, passing Buffy and her latest conquest on the way. When Xander was alone at the table once more, he let his thoughts drift to Spike. He sighed deeply, and then screamed—a deep, manly scream—when something landed on the table in front of him with a ‘thud!’.
He looked up and watched as Spike threw himself into the chair beside him. "What the...?"
"Flowers," Spike spat.
"Flowers?" Xander repeated the word questioningly. "Uh, for who?"
"You. Git," Spike replied.
"Ah, okay. Um, from whom?"
Spike’s eyes narrowed. "Me. You expecting flowers from someone else?" he asked suspiciously.
"No!" Xander yelped at the look in Spike’s eyes. "I just... Thank you," he said nervously. "This is very...strange and disturbing, but...nice."
"Open ‘em," Spike ordered, and because he wanted to see them anyway, Xander did.
"Wow! Roses. Red. Long...ow! Thorns," he added, sucking on the finger he’d pricked on one of the thorns and glancing nervously at Spike to see the vampire staring intently at his mouth. He stifled the strange and unsettling urge to pull the finger out of his mouth and offer it to Spike. "And a card," he mumbled around his finger. He lifted the card out and held it out of Spike’s reach as the vampire made a grab for it. "To Carol, All My Love, Bob," he read. He looked at Spike with narrowed eyes. "You stole these?" he asked.
Spike sniffed. "Not like the stores are open this late," he said.
"Or that you have any money," Xander added.
"That too," Spike agreed.
"Well, okay, I guess. It is the thought that counts, after all," Xander said.
Spike slammed a red, heart-shaped box on top of the box of flowers.
"Candy?" Xander asked.
"Know you like chocolate," Spike muttered.
"Wow," Xander said. "Bob ain’t getting any tonight, is he?" He ripped off the plastic wrap and opened the box, his eyes bugging when he saw that the box held the expensive kind of chocolates. "Whoa. Bob was going all out."
He reached in and took one of the chocolates out, biting into it and moaning as the chocolate melted in his mouth. He glanced over at Spike. The vampire was staring at him hungrily. "Want some?" he asked around the chocolate in his mouth. It was only fair, since Spike had been the one to steal them.
Spike nodded, and leaned forward slowly. Xander held the chocolate out for Spike to bite into, but the vampire bypassed his hand and went straight for his mouth, licking the chocolate off his lips and then devouring any remaining in his mouth. As if hypnotized, Xander had been unable to move, but once Spike’s lips were on his, he came alive.
Without letting himself think about what he was doing, he went with what felt good. What felt *right*. His arm snaked around Spike’s neck and pulled the vampire close as they kissed. They pulled apart and Xander fed the chocolate melting in his hand to Spike. While Spike ate the candy, Xander licked the melted chocolate off his fingers. Spike moaned.
Xander leaned in to kiss Spike again, but the vampire suddenly stiffened, pushing Xander away as he sat back in his own chair. Xander was confused at Spike’s reaction, and then jumped when he heard Buffy behind him.
"Oh, you’re back," she said. "What’s all this?"
Xander looked over at her. "Um, candy," he said. "Want one?" He pushed the box over to her, ignoring Spike’s growl.
"Ooh, chocolate," Buffy said, picking one out and popping it into her mouth. "Ohh, my God," she moaned. "It’s the good stuff."
"Yeah," Xander said, getting all gooey inside when he thought about Spike stealing the good stuff for him. And then got all tingly when he remembered the kiss.
"And flowers," Buffy said as she leaned across the table. "Xannnder," she teased. "Do you have a secret admirer?"
"Uh, well, um, no?" he stammered, not sure whether Spike could be considered an admirer. Or secret.
"Then where did this all come from?" Buffy asked, tipping the flower box so she could see inside. "A dozen long-stemmed red roses?"
"Spike," Xander replied.
"Huh?" She tore her eyes away from the roses.
"Um, Spike brought the candy and flowers," Xander clarified.
"Spike?" Buffy asked, looking between the two men. "How did Spike...? Tell me you didn’t steal these," she demanded.
"I didn’t steal these," Spike said with a straight face.
"Liar!" Buffy said. "You stole... Oh, my God, you stole someone’s Valentine’s Day present!"
"You can have one," Xander said, nudging the box of roses closer to her.
"Really?" she asked, perking up.
"Sure," Xander said.
"Hey!" Willow said from behind Xander.
He jumped. "Geez, don’t do that!"
Buffy took one of the roses and, with gross misuse of her Slayer power, broke the stem and then stripped the thorns off and stuck it behind her ear.
"Sorry." Willow grinned. "Oooh, flowers. And chocolate."
"Have some," Xander said before she could ask where they came from.
"Yummy," she said, reaching for a piece of candy.
"Spike stole them," Buffy chimed in.
Willow froze in mid-chew. "Oh, well, they still taste good," she said with her mouth full. "Want one?" she asked Tara.
Before she could reply, the music changed to a slow song. Spike grabbed Xander’s hand and dragged him out of his chair and onto the dance floor.
"Spike! What are you...?"
Spike pulled Xander close and began to dance. "Wanted to dance. With you."
"Oh," Xander replied, his insides a combination of gooey and tingly.
"That all right with you?" Spike asked, sliding his hand down Xander’s back to cup his ass and pull him in tight.
Xander whimpered when he felt the hard length of Spike pressed so closely against him. "Uh huh," he said.
"What the...?" Buffy questioned of no one in particular as Spike and Xander darted past her.
All three girls stared at the dance floor.
"Oh. No," Willow said.
"Oh, no?" Buffy repeated, turning her steely gaze onto Willow. "What do you mean, oh, no?"
"Th-that wasn’t supposed to happen," she said, still staring in horror at the two men on the dance floor.
"What wasn’t supposed to happen?" Buffy asked.
"He was supposed to find some nice girl to fall in love with. A non-demon type girl. Not..." She waved her hands at the dance floor.
"Wh-wh-what did you do?" Tara asked.
"It was just a little love charm," Willow said.
"A love spell?" Buffy exploded. "You did a love spell on Xander?"
"No! Not a love spell, exactly. A love charm."
"What is this love charm supposed to do?" Buffy asked, shading her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see Xander and Spike kissing.
"Well, you know how Xander hasn’t had very much luck with his love life?" Buffy nodded. "I just wanted him to have a chance to be happy. The charm was supposed to make people take a second look at him, instead of dismissing him out-of-hand. You know, see beneath th-the goofy exterior."
"Looks like it worked. Spike seems to have taken a second look at him," Tara said.
"Girl people! It was supposed to help Xander find a girlfriend! A nice, normal, non-demon girlfriend. I-I mean, Xander’s not gay! And did I mention the non-demon part?" she asked weakly.
"Okay, so how does that explain Xander?" Buffy asked, looking away from the dance floor when she saw what his hands were doing. "I can’t watch."
"Actually, I th-think it’s p-pretty hot," Tara said. The other two girls stared at her. "What?"
"It made Xander be more open to, um, new experiences, ‘cause it wouldn’t work if the girl fell for Xander and he wouldn’t give her a chance," Willow replied.
"It worked," Tara said. "He certainly seems open to new experiences."
Buffy turned quickly to look at the dance floor. "Where’d his hand go?" she asked. "Do you see Xander’s hand?"
"Th-the one on Spike’s b-butt?" Tara asked.
"No, the one... Oh, God, my eyes!" Buffy cried, slapping her hand over her eyes. "Please tell me he’s not..."
"Oh. Ohhh, my," Tara said. "S-sorry." She smiled at Buffy. "I’m pretty c-certain he is."
"We need to get it away from him," Buffy stated.
"What, Spike? Oh, the charm." Willow shook her head. "Won’t make any difference. It was just a-an ‘open your eyes and see me’ spell, not a lust spell, and now that Xander’s eyes are open..."
"He s-seems pretty lusty," Tara commented.
Willow gave a nervous little laugh. "I-I was going to say they’d be hard to close, but yeah, that works, too," she agreed with her girlfriend.
"Oh, God," Buffy groaned, her hand still covering her eyes. "This can’t be happening. This has got to be the worst Valentine’s Day *ever*!"
"Hi, want to dance?"
The three girls looked at the cute guy who had interrupted them.
"Who, me?" Buffy asked. At the boy’s nod, she smiled. "Sure!"
"Whew!" Willow said when Buffy had left. "That was close."
"Let’s go dance," Tara suggested. "Maybe we can get close enough to Xander and Spike to find out for sure where Xander’s hands are."
"Um...okay," Willow agreed, and allowed herself to be pulled out onto the dance floor.
Xander couldn’t believe his own actions. Not only was he dancing with another male on a crowded dance floor at The Bronze, he was kissing said male, and actively involved in feeling him up. Oh, and did he mention...*Spike*! His tongue and hands had been busy since Spike tugged him against the vampire’s body, and Spike’s had been similarly occupied exploring Xander.
He was sort of astonished that he could still think, with the amazing things Spike’s hands and lips were doing to him—that gooey, tingly feeling had increased a hundred times since they stepped onto the dance floor. He tried to take a moment to think about the fact that he was dancing with Spike, waited for that detail to bring him crashing back to reality—the reality where he and Spike both hated each other and the naughty touching was anathema to their very nature.
He waited some more. Nothing. Well, not nothing, exactly, ‘cause he was pretty sure *something* was happening in his pants. And if he wasn’t mistaken, Spike wasn’t unaffected, either. But instead of wigging him out, that particular detail was making him even harder.
"Spike," he groaned into the vampire’s mouth. Spike’s response was an inarticulate moan since he refused to stop kissing Xander long enough to reply. Xander momentarily forgot what he was going to say as Spike’s skillful tongue and fingers drove him beyond thought. Who knew your nipples were that sensitive?
"Mmm, Spike," Xander said, managing to pull away from the vampire’s questing tongue. "What are we doing?" he asked breathlessly.
"Snoggin’!" Spike replied, obviously annoyed at the interruption. "If you’d stop talkin’, that is. And quit bloody thinkin’," he added. "You’re hurtin’ my head."
Okay, Xander thought when Spike recaptured his lips as one of the vampire’s hands slid over the front of his jeans, no more thinking. Thinking bad. Touching good. He moved his hips, pressing himself into Spike’s hand, his own hands roaming over Spike’s back, into his hair, and back down to cup his ass, pulling him in tight and capturing the blond’s roving hand between their bodies.
Xander slowly dragged his own hand around Spike’s body and cupped the vampire’s erection, gently squeezing. Spike groaned into his mouth, but didn’t relinquish Xander’s lips. Soon, they were stroking each other into a frenzy, their hips thrusting into one another’s hands as their tongues battled, both unaware of their surroundings until a couple dancing next to them bumped into them.
Spike reluctantly pulled away from Xander, and Xander sucked in much-needed air. "M-maybe we should get out of here," he suggested breathlessly.
"Brilliant idea, pet," Spike agreed with a smirk, his hips still moving against Xander’s hand. Xander realized his fingers were still rubbing over Spike’s erection, and quickly pulled them away, groaning when Spike gave his own erection one last squeeze and pull before ceasing the stimulating touch that Xander craved more of as soon as it was gone.
"Hey, guys!" Willow’s cheerful voice broke into Xander’s thoughts. He turned to see her and Tara dancing beside them.
"Um, hi, Will, Tara," he managed to get out.
"You two look like you’re having fun," she chirped, and Xander blushed.
"Uh, yeah, well, you know, we were just thinking about leaving," he said.
"Really?" Tara asked, sounding disappointed.
"Yeah," Spike drawled his agreement as he pulled Xander closer, moving his hips so their erections slid over one another. Xander groaned.
"We, um, we have to, uh..."
"Get goin’ now," Spike finished for him, not bothering to hide the smirk, or his pleasure that he had Xander all flustered.
"What he said," Xander agreed.
"Well, all right," Willow said. "Should I wish you a good night?" she asked teasingly.
Xander blushed an even deeper crimson and he stammered, unable to form a coherent reply.
"Here," Tara said, holding her hand out to Xander.
Xander held his hand out and took what she offered him, then felt his face flush radioactive. He slipped the item into his pocket. "U-uh, th-thanks," he said.
"No problem," Tara said with an understanding, and slightly wistful, smile. "Have fun."
Xander bolted, dragging Spike off the dance floor behind him, but heard Willow’s, "You didn’t give him the white chocolate flavored lube, did you?"
"Don’t pout," Tara replied. "You know we have a whole case of it back at the dorm."
Xander grabbed his jacket and threw Spike’s duster at the vampire, who gave him a dirty look when it almost landed on the grimy floor. As an afterthought, he grabbed the stolen boxes of flowers and chocolate that Spike had given him, and then grasped Spike’s hand and hauled him out of The Bronze.
"In a hurry?" Spike drawled teasingly when they reached the sidewalk.
Xander stopped for a moment, wondering if the cool night air would clear his head and let him see this—thing—with Spike for the insanity it was. He waited. Nothing. He looked at Spike, smiled.
"No," he said. "We’ve got all night."
"Just tonight?" Spike asked casually around a cigarette he’d lit while Xander was waiting for his reason to return.
Xander studied the sidewalk, scuffed his toe. He looked at Spike through his lashes. "No," he admitted softly and was rewarded with a stunning smile that lit up Spike’s face and made his blue eyes sparkle.
"Right, then," he said. "We may have all the time in the world, but no sense wastin’ it when you got better things to do." He took Xander’s hand and led him down the sidewalk. "So, your place or mine?" he asked.
Xander choked on his next breath, and Spike obligingly slapped his back. "Mine, I think," he managed to get out. "Unless you got indoor plumbing since the last time I visited."
"Yours it is, then," Spike agreed as he tossed his cigarette away. "You know," he mused, "don’t know why you don’t like Valentine’s Day. ‘S not all bad."
"Well," Xander allowed, "it’s looking up."