I decided to take a page out of some of my favorite books, and wrap a S/X story around the Cinderella framework instead of writing in the fairy tale style. This is set between season 4 and 5 in an alternate reality where the Magic Box is already being run by Giles and Anya while Xander is still living in his parents' basement.
"Hands!" Willow squeaked over the blast of music at The Bronze.
Xander jumped on his stool, fumbling his drink and almost spilling the entire thing across the table and onto Buffy's latest - uh - skimpy thing. Skimpy thing that Xander was pretty sure had cost more than he'd made on his entire last paycheck.
Of course, Xander's last paycheck had been for one day of work. The one single day that he'd actually been employed by the copy shop before getting fired, Buffy could have bought it at Discount Dave's and it still would have cost more than Xander had in his bank account.
Which bit. In the big, nasty Sunnydale way.
Righting his soda bottle, Xander sneaked a glance at Willow, who had moved on from "hands!" to giggling at Tara in a way that Xander was pretty sure meant they'd be getting up to more than spells, and Buffy...okay, Buffy hadn't noticed a thing because she was busy with bigger hands.
Nice Riley hands.
Xander dropped his head to the table with a groan, wishing that he'd still had his fake ID or that Riley wasn't such an upstanding citizen that he wouldn't buy a desperate under aged guy a beer.
It was enough to really make him miss the old days. The pre-Riley days. The days when Willow was still a geek and Buffy was still taking orders from Giles.
Because then, he'd at least been able to do the book guy thing. Or the stupidly but bravely jumping in front of Willow thing.
But not anymore. Not now that Riley was in the picture. Because now, Buffy knew the difference between a scared guy with a rock and a guy who actually knew how to fight.
Xander had not come out looking good in that comparison.
And now that Willow was a witch, he didn't come out looking good compared to her either.
Then, somewhere along the way, Buffy and Willow had got it into their heads that he needed to be protected because he was "just a normal guy who shouldn't be out in Sunnydale at night".
But he could still get the donuts.
And the books.
Oh yeah, sometimes coffee too: one skinny half-caf latte, a double mocha no whipped cream, and "tea, but for god's sake, not that ghastly sweet concoction in the bottle this time."
"Hey, Xander, could you go get me..."
Then, when it came time to patrol, it was all "you'd better go home, Xander. This could get rough tonight."
At least for a little while, he'd had Anya to go home with him instead of getting pounded on by the latest oogedy-boogedy to hit the Sunnydale night scene. She’d been a good excuse to let him save face too. "Oh, yeah. I'm gonna take Anya home, guys."
But then, there'd been the Spike thing. The one that went like this:
"So, you're joining the army are you? Didn't know they let your type in."
"You're what?" Anya hit Xander, scowling into her slurpee.
"First? Ow. Second, where did you get that idea? And third: Ow! I am not joining the army!"
"Good. Stopped that just in time."
"And what the hell did you mean my type?"
"Well, y'know." Spike waved a hand at him, from head to toe, and raised his eyebrows in a way that he seemed to think meant something to Xander.
"Why don't you spell it out for me, fangless?"
"Well, I suppose it does make sense. Though you are quite a Viking in the sack."
"I'm not gay!"
"Oh come on, mate. I've known plenty of decent blokes what went in for other blokes."
"Spike's right, Xander. I am very disappointed, but as a caring girlfriend, I will support you wholly in your decision to explore your sexuality." Anya turned to beam at Spike. "I have been learning to be very open minded about these things."
"Good on you."
"But I'm not gay!"
"Try that in a more manly tone next time, why don't you? Might be more convincing."
"It's all right, Xander." Anya patted his arm, and brightened. "And now you don't have to hide from your sexuality in those awful clothes anymore! I can go shopping with my gay friend and we can offer each other fashion advice!"
So since then, he'd been Anya's gay friend and been to the mall more times than he'd been there in his entire life previously, where they would shop, sip frappuccinos at the Starbucks, and talk about men.
The worst part of the whole thing was that Spike had turned out to be right, too.
About the gay thing and the other Scoobies looking down on him thing that he'd also said during that little honesty session. Not the army thing.
And since then, Xander had had a lot of nights to himself to think. Especially since Anya had realized the "unexpected, yet undeniable" sexiness that was a middle-aged ex-librarian. Xander didn't let his mind go there because ew, but at least Giles seemed pretty happy, for Giles, and it was no longer his sex life that Anya was talking about inappropriately in public.
Xander blinked, realizing that fingers were being snapped in front of his face. "Hey, Xand?"
"Huh? Oh. Yeah, Buff?"
"Have you been listening to a single word?"
"Uh. Listening? Yes. Not so much with the comprehension, but-"
"Riley and I are headed out to patrol."
Buffy gave him one of her fondly (he hoped) exasperated looks and rested her hands on her hips. "Which means that if you wanna get home under slayer protection, we've gotta go now."
Xander sighed. "You guys go ahead. I'll leave with Willow and Tara."
"Uh, actually, they all ready left." Riley was looking around the dance floor, as if he didn't especially want to be having that conversation. He probably didn't.
Xander kind of doubted there was going to be much real patrol action happening. Action, sure. But not the patrolling kind. He shrugged. "Go on. I'll make it home." He didn't even bother suggesting he could come along on patrol. Buffy's idea of letting him down gently these days felt more like being fitted for concrete boots and dropped into a river to make sure he'd go down faster and with fewer complications.
"Are you sure? It's not exactly safe out there for a guy like you."
"Look, don't take this the wrong way, Buffy, but a guy like me was getting home uneaten for sixteen years before you showed up, okay?" And why had that come out more peevish than cool and competent? He waved his hand, defeated. "Just go. I'll call a cab or something."
"Do you have a cross with you?"
"I only worry because I care, Xander."
"I'll be fine, Buff. Go."
"Come on, Buffy. You heard the man."
"Sometimes, a guy's just got to be alone with his drink." Riley glanced from Xander to his Coke. "Even if that drink is fizzy sugar water."
*A new record, ladies and gentlemen! Complete emasculation in thirty-four seconds!*
Xander let his head drop to the table as Buffy and Riley finally left for patrol. "Once. Just for once, I wish I could be the cool guy, the super strength guy. The guy able to kick major oogedy-boogedy whupass, and still be able to party at the Bronze without looking like a total goof."
Behind him, Halfrek smiled delightedly, shimmering into her demon aspect. "Done!"
"Jesus!" Xander flailed, clutching at the table to avoid falling off his stool, staring at the vengeance demon in a panic. "Okay, whatever Anya told you? It's a lie. We're on good terms, I swear, don't send me to the world without shrimp!"
Hallie cocked her head, blinked rapidly, and then laughed, patting Xander on the shoulder. "Oh, you are such an adorable little boy, aren't you? Don't be silly. I know you and Anyanka are still on the best of terms. Who do you think sent me? Didn't she ever tell you about me?"
Xander shook his head slowly. Because it was possible Anya had told him. But there were times when Xander was really bad at listening. Like right after an orgasm. Which was when Anya liked to talk.
She tsked. "Well I'm Halfrek, Hallie to her, and we go way back together in the vengeance game. Oh, and FYI? I'm not much into the vengeance gig per se. I'm more of a justice type." She smiled at him, an expression he thought would be a lot more winsome if she weren't all veiny. "And lucky you, pumpkin! I'm here to dish a little justice for you."
"A little wha-?"
Hallie patted his shoulder again, and Xander realized that her hand was the only thing keeping him from sliding right off his stool. "Justice!" She waved a hand, and the entire Bronze went silent and still around them.
"Um. Justice for what?"
"A lifetime of wrongs." Delicately, Hallie plucked a drink out of the frozen hand of a boy passing by, and helped herself to a sip. "A lifetime of being the - oh, what was the word Anyanka used - oh, yes, the Harpo."
"Zeppo," Xander distantly heard himself correct her.
"Well whatever. I'm here to grant your wish and make you the suave, strong, capable man you want to be. Then, you can go out to patrol, dance, fuck," Hallie took another sip of her drink, made a face, and put it back into the frozen hand, choosing another passerby's drink instead and nodding with approval, "whatever you want."
"Yeah, right. And then Buffy and Willow can take one look at me, the same old Xander, and tell me that I can't come along because I could get hurt."
"Not if they don't recognize you, sweet thing!"
And o-kay, back away from the crazy justice demon. "I'm thinking that after five years? They're gonna recognize me."
"Not with me on your side." She patted his cheek, and lifted a silver and green pendant from around her neck, leaning over to re-fasten the clasp around Xander's. "Now listen to me, darling. From sundown until midnight, nobody who knows you will recognize you as long as you're wearing my charm." She let her fingertips rest on the pendant, and Xander felt a sizzling tingle like the time he'd licked the light socket on a dare from Jesse. "And here's the fun part. You will be as strong, as suave, as invulnerable as you wished, but mind the time, because the charm does run out at midnight. Every midnight. And you must be wearing the pendant."
"Are you for real?"
"Could something this pretty not be real?" She gestured to her face, and Xander bit his tongue, figuring that not pissing off the justice demon was a pretty good idea. "Well what are you waiting for? Shoo. Go try it out." She pushed him off the stool, and placed her empty glass back in the frozen young man's hand. Then, with a dramatic gesture, sound and movement returned in a rush to the Bronze, leaving only her voice behind. "I'll be keeping an eye on you, sweet thing. Have fun!"
Xander looked down at his hands, and flexed them. He didn't feel any different.
But then, the pendant was still sizzling a little against his skin, and that sure didn't feel normal. But what was he supposed to do? Go out looking for something big and demony to test out his super strength just because he had a new piece of jewelry?
And he still wasn't entirely sure that Hallie wasn't a vengeance demon out to make vengeance that much sweeter by luring him into a sense of false security. Okay, so false security was still more security than Xander had had before.
He was just reaching up to the clasp of the pendant when he was knocked into from behind, driving his chest against the tall table and the air from his lungs to the sound of drunken laughter. "Hey! Lay off, will you?" Xander shoved back, and then turned in amazement just in time to see the guy who'd bumped into him go sailing across the dance floor to land in a heap before the stage.
He looked down at his hands again, then picked up the pendant to look closely at it. *Okay. So on board with the wish thing, now.*
Grinning like mad, Xander scrambled away from the table and raced for the door. He had demon ass to kick!
And if he ran into a couple of guys from the old Sunnydale High football team, well, he figured a vengeance demon would forgive him stopping to take a little extra justice along the way.
Wandering along the Sunnydale streets, Xander tried to decide the best way to go looking for violence which, by the way, went against every instinct he'd previously held, but his old instincts also didn't go with his new role as the guy who kicks ass and takes names, at least from sunset to midnight.
Which left him feeling like a weird cross between Cinderella and Batman, but that was something he figured he could get used to. And as Xander heard blows landing down an alleyway up ahead, he decided that there was no time like the present to start getting used to it.
He also realized that he really should have asked for night vision in the package because all he could see was a tangle of dark limbs, but he could hear just fine, and if there was one sound Xander knew, it was the sound of a fight. Especially the many-against-one, kind.
Xander grabbed the first guy he could get his hands on, yanking him out of the scuffle. "Is this fight taken or can any number play?" He took a deep breath, spun, and threw, staring in slack-jawed amazement as the guy sailed across the alley and into a dumpster. "Jesus...ow!" He staggered to the clang of a garbage can that some other guy had hit him over the head with, whirled, and grabbed it, and then did something he knew he'd never be able to explain or imitate again in a thousand years that sent the second guy sprawling after his buddy and Xander into a crouch facing down the last three with a manic grin.
*A guy could get used to this kind of thing.*
With a whoop, Xander threw himself at the last three, catching two around the waist and going down in a tangle, fists and feet flying, and it felt so fucking good to hear that solid thump and crunch of bruises and bones that when he came out of it, panting, laughing, and the last one standing, he found himself looking for more.
*Jesus. Fuck, a guy could get addicted to this kind of thing.*
Still breathing hard, he crouched by the group's victim, his hand coming down on a leather clad shoulder, trying to uncurl him from his defensive posture. "Hey, guy. It's okay. You're safe-" Xander swallowed his words as the body uncurled in one malevolent stretch, rolling away and coming up in a crouch, facing Xander. "Spike."
Because despite the bruises, despite the dirt. Despite a nasty split lip, it was Spike they'd been beating on, and he looked dazed. "I know you, mate?"
"Yeah you-" Xander stopped himself, remembering the non-recognition clause, and shook his head. "Probably don't," he finished. "I've seen you around."
Oh, had he ever. But always, it'd been Spike fighting gracefully, Spike kicking ass. Spike with those flashing blue eyes that now glittered behind dark bruises and tried in vain to focus on him. "Yeah, well...ta. Coulda taken the wankers. Was just- just regaining my strength." He pushed off the ground to stand and staggered, leaning heavily into Xander when he leapt to his feet to catch him. "Just restin'," he finished, before his eyes rolled back in his head and he became dead(er) weight on Xander's arm.
Which meant that the guys who'd been beating on him were...*Human. Shit.* "Uh. Spike? Buddy? How about I help you back to your crypt now?"
*And get the hell out of here before those guys think to call the cops.*
Praying that it wasn't too close to midnight, and vowing to buy himself a wrist-watch the next day, Xander scooped Spike into his arms as easily as if Spike weighed nothing, and ran as fast as he could for the cemetery.
Xander squinted at his new wrist watch, his first that didn't come from a box of cereal, Uncle Rory, or a fast food meal, and checked one more time against the clock to be sure the settings were accurate. Then, he set his watch for 8:06 because with the sun setting that late, he didn't want to waste a single minute of it.
Then, satisfied, Xander leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, feeling the dopey smile spread over his face. God, it wasn't even the strength he'd liked so much as the grace, the knowledge that whatever he wanted to do, he could do. Up to, and including picking Spike up and running half way across town with him.
That'd been great.
What he hadn't expected, and what'd come as the best surprise of the night was the discovery that his super speed and finesse meant the most incredible masturbation of his young life. If that was what it felt like for Spike, no wonder he couldn't seem to keep his hands out of his crotch.
Not that Xander was noticing Spike's-
Okay, Xander had noticed Spike's crotch a lot. Especially lately. It was hard to miss the way the guy liked to sprawl out with his legs wide open and his hands-
Xander shifted in his seat and pulled a heavier book into his lap, reminding himself he was supposed to be research boy.
Not thinking about what it'd be like if Spike was slouched on the stairs right then, hands in ready position and just did it. It wasn't like the Scoobs paid any attention to him. Except Xander, and lately, the attention was appreciation all the way.
Spike could stretch out on the stairs, maybe put a boot on a lower step to give Xander the best view from the table. He wouldn't know Xander had been the one to rescue him the night before, so maybe he'd just be trying to get a rise (hah!) out of Xander, get back that old Spikey confidence even with a black eye and split lip.
And what kind of guy was Xander that he thought the bruises just made Spike look sexier?
So yeah, Spike would sprawl out on the steps, take a look across the shop like he owned it, and then let his gaze settle on Xander. No, not settle, lock on Xander. Pin him cause he'd know Xander was watching every move, then slowly, slowly, go one button at a time, flicking them open, casual as a porn star, and start to stroke. He wouldn't be slick or anything, so his skin would catch on his hand, tug down hard on the foreskin, showing off the tip like a lollypop with that you know you want it smirk at Xander.
Xander's mouth watered. He did want it. Badly.
Would it be pale, like the rest of him because vampires didn't have any circulation, or would it be obscenely red, flushed with all that stolen blood?
Xander settled on red and closed his eyes, pushing down with the book in his lap and taking a harsh breath in, hoping nobody would notice.
Who was he kidding? Nobody would notice until they needed him to get something for them.
So probably nobody'd notice if things started happening between him and fantasy Spike either.
"Come on, boy. I can smell those pheromones from here. You want this?" Spike's hand slows, squeezes until a pearly drop bubbles from the tip and slides down the side like sweet, sweet melting ice cream.
"Oh, god." Because there was no way Xander would have anything glib to say to erect!Spike on the staircase. He was honest enough with himself to admit that.
"Come on, Harris. Nobody'll see. Nobody'll know.
And Xander would stand like a man under hypnosis, kneel on the stairs, and - what would Spike do? Nothing easy. He wouldn't make it simple, not some fumbling blow from a guy who used to think he was straight. No. Spike'd want to make a mark.
Spike slouches down, tangles his hand in the back of Xander's hair and yanks his face forward until Xander's lips are pressed against his open belt buckle, then paints a slick, wet stripe across Xander's cheek with the tip of his cock, marking him. "Like that, do you?" And the other cheek. He can feel it dripping down, wants so badly to taste. "Come on, boy. Suck me."
An axe slammed down on the table, making Xander jump, and scramble to keep the Encyclopedia Demonica, or whatever the hell it is safely in his lap. "Xander, are you paying attention at all? What's with you lately?"
"Um. I've just got a lot on my mind, Buff." *And in my lap*
"Like what? Another job at the Doublemeat Palace? This stuff is actually important. And since Spike didn't bother to show up, now it's down to me, Riley, and Willow to take out an entire nest of shellac demons-"
"Shrevlak," Giles corrected absently, turning a page in his book.
"Big nasty bitey things without vamp backup. Tonight."
"Uh. Okay, so where do I come in?"
Buffy pointed at the axe which was, at least, not dripping ichor onto the table this time. "Weapons cleaning duty while Riley and I go scout out their hidey hole before sunset."
Xander groaned. "Right."
"Look at the bright side, Xander. If we get them taken out before sunset, there's Bronzey fun to be had after."
Xander thought about Bronzey fun that involved sipping a soda by his lonesome while the couples did coupley things. Then, he thought about trying out his new super suave, super secret, super Xand-man at the Bronze instead. Yeah, no comparison. "You know, Wills...I'm pretty tired. I think I'm just gonna finish up here and go home. Fill out some more job applications, and get an early start tomorrow."
Buffy shrugged. "Your loss. You're never going to meet another girl if you stay home and hide all the time though."
"Somehow, Buff, this really does not bother me."
"Well it should! You can't expect to go through your life alone, Xander."
"Actually, Buffy, Xander's gay now."
"He is? How did I miss that?"
"That's kinda why he broke up with Anya."
"Oh. Yeah. I forgot. Well you're not going to meet guys either if you don't get out of the basement sometimes, Xander."
Xander felt a headache coming on. "Um, I'm just gonna go clean the weapons now, okay?" While I still have some shreds of dignity left.
Xander checked his watch. Only another four hours and thirty seven minutes until sunset.
He could last that long.
*So this is what it feels like to prowl. Nice.*
The music throbbed through Xander, centering in his dick, and every step he took merged unconsciously with the music. He could feel appreciative eyes on him.
Even when he rubbed his hand against the thigh of his jeans, the gesture didn't look like a sweaty-palmed teenager, it looked like-
Xander caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror. *Jesus. I'd do me.
Kinda like when Spike did it.
And speaking of Spike...Xander prowled with a purpose, headed straight to the pool tables where Spike bent low over the felt, lining up a shot.
He'd had his fill of fighting the night before. Now, it was time to try out the second f.
If he was lucky. And, feeling the pendant sizzle against his collarbone, Xander felt very lucky. "Fancy a game?" And how amazing was it that Xander still sounded cool, confident, borrowing one of Spike's phrases that would have made him sound like a pretentious geek a few nights before.
Spike turned slowly, giving Xander the eye, from boot tips to hair. "Oh, it's you."
"You remember me?"
"Y'look a little different without the wild hunter look in your eyes, but yeah. Hard to forget the bloke who carried me half way across Sunnydale last night."
"I thought you'd passed out."
"Well, wasn't exactly going to be running any marathons." Spike gestured to the rack of cues. "Drinks on the loser."
Xander almost said he didn't have ID, but then, he realized that with his new super whatever it was entirely likely he wasn't going to be the loser this time, and if he was, he'd finally be able to charm the bartender into a drink. So instead, he said, "You're on."
Spike shrugged, racked the balls and lined up his shot, sinking the three and the seven.
Was that all there was to it? All it took to get in with Spike was a casual game of pool?
"Your turn, mate."
It looked like it was.
Well, that, and maybe not being a Scooby. Xander refused to feel guilty. It wasn't as if the spell made him not Xander. It just made Spike not recognize him as Xander. And it wasn't as if Spike ever needed to find out the truth.