It was with great satisfaction that Giles reached up to flip the sign on the Magic Box door from “yes, we’re open” to “sorry, we’re closed.” The latter, of course, was a lie - it had been a long day and he was not the least bit sorry to see it end. He was, however, startled when the still unlocked door swung inward.
And then Xander stepped inside, looking up just in time to grab the door before it hit him. Giles caught a startled look and then another he couldn’t quite read on Xander’s face before both were papered over by a too-cheerful smile and too-cheerful words.
“Xand-man reporting for duty.”
Giles turned and wandered toward the cash register, shuffled a pile of receipts. “The Scooby meeting isn’t scheduled to start for another hour."
“Not that duty..." Giles turned to see Xander holding up his tool box. "Shelf duty. I ran into Ahn at The Bronze last night and she - ”
“You’re really not required to do such things anymore.”
Giles could see Xander's grip tighten around the handle of the toolbox. “I was never required to do them."
Giles sighed and shook his head. “I’m only saying, you needn’t feel as if - ”
“It’s nice to help my friends out? Yes, why ever would I feel a stupid thing like that?”
Giles reached for his glasses. “Xander…”
“Xander!” Anya’s voice emerged from the back room, followed by her body. “Are you here to fix the shelves? They’re over by the crystal balls.”
Xander's face softened and he smiled at Anya. “Yeah, I”
“Should not be the first person we call upon every time something is in need of repair, Anya.”
Anya frowned at Giles as if he were a very stupid child. “Of course he should. He always comes the next day and works without asking for money. Those people you told me to call from the Yellow Pages do not come for several days and always expect to be paid afterwards. It’s very inconvenient.”
“Anya…” The glasses came off and Giles reached into his pocket for a handkerchief. “It is the job of those people in the Yellow Pages to come and fix things. Xander, on the other hand, has - ”
“I don’t mind, Giles.”
“See?” Anya crossed her arms over her chest. “He doesn’t mind.”
Giles rubbed the handkerchief hard against his lenses. “That is not the - ”
Xander shook his head and started in the direction of the crystal balls. “You two fight. I’ll fix.”
"That is not the point," Giles reiterated, keeping his eyes off Xander, off the work he was doing for them, for free when he had no reason to -
Giles slid his glasses on, and with them stopped the runaway train of his thoughts. "I'll be in my office."
And he would have been, if the office weren't occupied, filled with smoke and the faint tang that meant his whiskey stash had been found and breached. "Spike," he said - and felt old. He was feeling old more and more often.
"Do you mind if we skip the usual exchange of very English insults and assume that you will, eventually, get out of my chair and - is that a television?" he asked, spotting the small and offensive object perched on his bookcase next to an Eighteenth Century Hungarian scrying bowl.
"Yeah. Thought you could use some entertainment in here, so I nicked you one. Don't have to thank me."
"The cable company discovered your pirated line again, did they?"
"Spike..." How did one convince an ensconced vampire to go without the yelling he wasn't up to? And while he was reasonably certain the television was provided with purely selfish intent, he wasn't completely certain. He reminded himself again that Spike was a master of deception, skilled in the art of appearing - "Where are you going?"
Spike glanced at him, one hand already on the doorknob, air of distraction - or possibly air of Giles' fifteen year Glenlivet. "Er - off to have a smoke, yeah?"
By the time Giles looked away from the overflowing ash tray on his desk, Spike was gone.
Spike didn't come back, but Passions played on in the background as Giles sat at his desk and stared at a series of books he'd been meaning to read - one after another. It took approximately fifteen minutes of staring without reading - and about three fingers of Glenlivet - to pass from annoyance to guilt. At least as far as Xander was concerned.
Giles stepped out of the office and headed for the bookshelves. "Xander?" he called. "I'm sorry if I..."
"Ow! Wanker." It was Spike's voice.
Then Xander's voice. "Back off, bleach-brain. Some people actually come here to help instead of mooch, you know. Over here, Giles."
"I'll have you know that parasites are an essential part of any ecosystem," Spike was saying as Giles rounded a bookshelf and the two men came into view.
Xander gaped at Spike. "Did you just say 'ecosystem'?"
Spike lifted an eyebrow. "What? Too many syllables for you?"
"Right, because you, Spike, are a great intellectual of our - "
"Boys, please." Giles aimed a sigh heavenward as annoyance returned, superceding guilt. "Need I remind you that this is a place of business and not a nursery school?"
Xander sharpened his glare and turned it on Giles and Giles instantly recognized and regretted the offending word, but before either could say anything, the bell at the front of the shop jingled and the door banged open.
"Omigod, like like like? No way."
Spike smirked. "You were saying, Rupert?"
Giles just shook his head and wandered out to greet Willow and Buffy, harboring the vague hope that sometime that evening a Scooby meeting might actually come to order.
Xander put down the hammer and followed, pulling his wallet out of his pocket and flipping it open.
Then leaning away from Spike who drifted in his direction like a man with a magnetic attraction. "Back off, Fangless. This is the milk and cookies fund."
"Chocolate cake, no nuts."
"And for the gentleman?"
"The usual," Giles said, without thinking. He looked around. "That is, a jelly - not sugared - would do nicely." He reached for his wallet out of habit and received another glare. He looked away from Xander and rubbed his palm along the seam of his trousers instead. "Thank you, Xander."
"They have those little cream filled ones?" Spike was patting down his duster pockets for cigarettes, already moving toward the door at Xander's side.
"No. That's the place on Crawford. And before you ask - no - we are not going there."
"Come on, mate. Closer to home, isn't it?"
"And we are not home." The bell jangled behind them.
"Is it just me or are they really Mister and Missus Bickerson lately?" Buffy looked around the room.
"Who's the Missus?"
"Oh that is so Spike."
"Yes, well now that they have left us in peace for a few moments, perhaps we could discuss..." Giles trailed off as the girls' words registered. And replayed. Along with the last five minutes, in which Xander and Spike had been acting very much like Xander and Cordelia a few years earlier, or Xander and...
"Earth to Giles." Giles blinked and looked over at a frowning Buffy. "Discuss what?" she asked.
"Discuss? Oh, er, right. We really ought to discuss the Ethulgour prophecy I was looking at last week."
"Oh yay. Prophecy." Buffy sighed and then flipped her hair philosophically. "Well as long as this Eiffel Tower - "
" - thing doesn't involve any eggs or slime, I'm good. Do you know how many pairs of shoes I've ruined this month alone?"
"The mind boggles," Giles said.
And his mind did boggle, just not over Buffy's decimated shoe collection. He flipped back in his memory to the Scooby meeting a week earlier, when Spike had slipped out immediately before Xander went on his doughnut seeking mission.
To the shop three doors down.
Which had taken the better part of half an hour.
"I mean, seriously, I know this job is sub-minimum wage but the Council could at least provide a wardrobe reimbursement fund..."
And to the patrol a few days before that. Buffy had gone out with Riley, Willow with Tara, and Xander with Spike. The latter pair had returned late and Xander had appeared… flushed, but they’d claimed not to have seen a thing.
They probably hadn’t.
And suddenly Giles’ thoughts were flying - ever backward – searching. Searching for that first sign. Searching for that first moment, that first move. Searching for the start.
He had to know.
Because Xander could be in danger. Because Xander had been seduced. Because Xander had no idea what he was getting into and someone would have to talk some sense into him and it would probably have to be Giles.
But first he had to know how it had started.
And then... he did.
If the white hats ever found out, they'd probably say Xander had been seduced. Debauched. Corrupted. Led astray.
They wouldn't be wrong.
It was good work if you could get it.
Took constant vigilance though.
White hats were notoriously in danger of backsliding into puppy-saving and homes with white picket fences.
Spike slipped his left hand into Xander's back pocket and squeezed.
"Okay - we're trying to prove - what, exactly this time?"
"What? A bloke can't express affection for another bloke on a public thoroughfare? That's discrimination it is."
"Affection, Spike. You are not expressing affection. You are groping my ass."
"Well, yeah." Spike flexed his fingers, tongue curling appreciatively at the jump and bunch of muscle under his hand when he did. "You mind?"
Xander tipped his head to one side in that fetchingly His Master's Voice expression, then shrugged. "Not so you'd notice."
"Right, then. Just wanted to make sure you were thinking of me."
"Who else would I be... Oh, so that's why you didn't use your super-vampy hearing to warn me that Giles was about to catch us."
"It ever occur to you that I was just too caught up in the snogging?"
"Yeah huh. So, what? You harboring a secret desire to get staked all of a sudden?"
Spike smirked and tugged Xander into a convenient alley. Never let it be said that Spike had passed up a perfect opener. "Never kept my desire for a good staking secret from you, luv," he murmured, pressing Xander's body into the brick wall with his own and attacking his lips.
Xander weakened for a moment under the assault, then surprised Spike by pushing himself away from the wall and reversing their position - Xander's hands against the wall caging him, Xander's hips grinding him into the brick. "That's not the kind of...ugh...staking...I was talking about."
"Then stop talking," Spike said. "'Sides, the Watcher wouldn't stake me... Not his type, am I? He prefers a slightly..."
"Shut up, Spike," Xander growled.
Spike practically purred in satisfaction. Could never get enough of that growl. Or the hip thrust that went with it. He looked straight into Xander's eyes and filled his voice with insolence.
This, in hindsight, was always exactly the right thing, or exactly the wrong thing to say.
He was spun and unzipped. Shoved down and scraped against brick. Coat shoved up and bunched uncomfortably in the small of his back and the alley air was too cold to be standing about with his jeans around his thighs - no matter how hot Xander's cock was, nestled up against his arse.
Then there was breathing - fast and with too little lube and it was bloody brilliant - teeth and hard grunts and growls from both of them, waist of his bunched jeans burning into the sides of his thighs and Xander fucking him fast and hard and without any finesse at all.
And if Spike's blood wasn't dead, it'd sing sodding arias when he came, painting the wall in sticky stripes - and Xander breathing hard against the back of his neck, warm and humid. He shifted, and there were wet, quiet sounds, slick feeling.
The bone-melting lassitude of a good, fast shag. Xander was still in him, on him, over him, but he lit a cigarette anyway, sighing the smoke into the wall. "Ought to work you up in mixed company more often."
"Slut," Xander whispered, warm breath tickling Spike's ear.
And Spike couldn't argue with that. But then Xander was pretty damn easy himself. At least in Spike's experience.
But it wasn't the boy's fault, really. Spike was good at making himself irresistible...when he wanted to be.
When he found something - or someone - he wanted.
When a challenge presented itself.
A challenge like a brown-haired boy just coming into manhood - filling out, bulking up and cluing in to pleasures beyond those of the fairer sex.
Spike's curiosity had been piqued, and when the boy had suddenly started spending a lot of time alone in his apartment again, Spike hadn't wasted a moment. He'd ransacked his own crypt, gone crying to the Scoobies and moved in the next day. Who said he couldn't execute a plan?
'Course, he hadn't stayed longer than it took Harris to succumb to his undeniable charms and by then Harris was gagging for it.
A willing, horny victim of Spike's wiles.
A willing, warm horny victim and surprisingly tractable regarding suggestions of semi-public sexual encounters and Saturday night kitten poker.
It had been almost too easy - well, all right, it had been too easy, and Spike should be bored by now. Bored and moving on to the next lay.
Would be too if Harris didn't -
Twitch and harden and loose a breathy sigh against Spike's ear. "Mm. Baby." And a warm hand crawled up the inside of Spike's thigh to cup his balls.
If Harris didn't have more layers than a bloody onion and - and - bloody hell -
Spike's fingers dug in between the bricks, held on.
Didn't hurt that Harris was hung like a horse and bloody well at his sexual peak. Or that a few well placed jibes could provoke Harris into demonstrating his manhood through the thorough use and abuse of Spike's arse.
Not that Harris couldn't or wouldn't take it prettily, too.
Because he could. And he did. And the chip never so much as fluttered.
Not the way Xander's eyelashes did when Spike was deep inside him, hitting just the right spot and trying so hard not to come.
Not that this was about eyelashes. This was about a shag. A bloody fantastic shag that Spike would have to be loonier than Dru to give up.
And if, on occasion, the shag ended and Spike didn't bugger off straight away, it was only because Harris and Harris' bed were bleeding warm and because Harris always kept his fridge stocked with blood - the good stuff that was usually out of Spike's price range.
The human stuff.
That was out of the Watcher's...morality range he supposed. "Bloody hell!" And if Spike had to bite his arm sometimes to keep his voice down or if said voice was rough and ragged at the edges - and if losing control made Harris chuckle so darkly against Spike's back that the sound alone made Spike's cock leak over those big warm fingers closed around it -
Spike threw his head back and swallowed with a click, grit his teeth when warm lips mouthed and nibbled their way up his throat making his belly clench and thighs tremble.
If - if losing control meant all that, well Spike had never been a fan of control before and didn't see a reason to start now with sparklers and whirligigs of light going off behind his eyelids and his lip sore from being bitten, and his prick going limp in Xander's hold.
They leaned against the wall, breathing heavily.
"Doughnuts," Xander rasped.
It wasn't much as pillow talk went, but Spike didn't need the pillow talk. Romance - hearts and flowers were for nancies.
They zipped up and straightened up and stepped out of the alley, and Xander’s hand came to rest in the small of Spike’s back. And, sure, it was a poncy thing to do and Harris seemed to be getting poncier and poncier lately, but that was hardly Spike’s fault.
Nor was it Spike’s fault that he couldn’t seem to find the energy to shake the hand off. Shagged out, wasn’t he?
And, no, he didn't know where the energy to light a cigarette came from. Beside the bloody point, as far as Spike was concerned.
They made it to the doughnut shop. Spike tried to walk in with his cigarette, but Cindy’s glare stopped him in his tracks. He backed out of the shop slowly. There was a reason Cindy had survived so long on the night shift. Spike admired that in a human.
Xander strolled out of the shop a couple minutes later and popped a soft cinnamon and sugar doughnut hole into Spike’s mouth. “From Cindy,” he said.
Spike licked Xander’s fingers, then his own lips, then Xander’s lips for good measure. Yeah, Cindy was a bit of all right.
“We have to get back,” Xander said, pulling his lips out of reach. Bloody white-hat sense of duty.
They started walking.
“I could come by and fix your cable tonight,” Xander offered. “And, you know, other stuff.”
Spike smirked. Fifteen minutes ago, Xander had fucked him into the wall just five feet away from the street, but now it was all 'other stuff.' The evening plans were, however, appealing.
But when they stepped into the Magic Box a few minutes later, Spike watched those plans fly right out the window.
He’d been expecting it all along - he really had - so he didn’t know what that feeling was about – the one squeezing at the insides of his chest. It wasn’t fear, though the look the Watcher was sending his way would have struck fear into the heart of a lesser vampire - would have burned a lesser vampire to dust where he stood.
The look was fierce and fiery and possessive. And Spike may not have been a lesser vampire, but the look told him he had laid hands on Xander for the last time.
Ripper wanted his boy back.
And that was the sound of the shit hitting the fan - Xander knew it well. He had his own Greatest Hits album.
"Doughnuts are here," he said, because a guy didn't have that much experience with high speed fecal matter and not know how to shovel.
And shoveling began with triage.
Okay, problem one: Spike wasn't actually moving into the room behind him. Possibly not bad since problem two - Giles - was pretty much blocking the way and radiating the kind of Mr. Hostile vibes that would have had Xander's heart doing a Snoopy dance except for, well -
"Hey, G-man. Child with doughnuts coming through," and yeah maybe that was a low blow but there was nothing like a low blow to take the wind out of a guy's sails and hey – he wasn’t the one who started the 'child' thing.
Anyway, it worked, and Ripper became Giles and Giles stepped out the doorway and Spike sauntered in past both of them, leering at Xander with an almost comic exaggeration that could only be for Giles' benefit. Men, Xander snorted silently. As if Spike hadn't just been pinned in the doorway and about to bolt.
Seconds ticked by and Giles didn't move or speak and Xander ran through several flimsy excuses in his mind – ‘I think there's something broken in the back, come watch me fix it’ and ‘Giles, could you help me look for my hammer’ were among the better ones - before muttering "screw it" and marching past Giles, dropping the doughnuts off in front of the girls on his way into the training room.
Giles stepped into the room half a minute later with the face of a repentant criminal ready to hear his sentence. But Xander, who’d been gearing up to rip Giles a new one - or at least to deliver a very stern talking to - suddenly found he no longer had the heart. And when it came right down to it...
"You were right."
Giles looked nonplussed. Xander didn't know what plussed looked like, but Giles' look was not it. "Excuse me?"
"Right. You were." Xander thought about that and muttered. "Talking like Yoda, I am."
And listening outside the training room door, Spike was and that was - fine. It'd save Xander the trouble of repetition later in this evening's exciting program.
"What - exactly was I right about?" Ripper parted the tweed and peered suspiciously out on the world and Xander wondered if that would ever stop making the naughty tingles run down his spine.
"Aside from the vampires being real?" Xander resisted the temptation of fidgeting with his hands or jamming them awkwardly into his pockets and settled for leaning casually against a stack of training mats. It'd be easier not looking at Giles. So of course Xander looked him in the eye and said, "About us. About the whole... age thing. It wouldn't work."
"And I suppose you have more in common with a corpse who is well over a hundred years old than with a man over forty," Giles snapped and they stared at each other. Xander had the feeling Giles was as surprised by what had come out of his mouth as Xander was.
"Well... yeah. Kinda." Honesty was a bitch sometimes. "It's just... he... he doesn't feel... I mean, he doesn't act old, you know?"
"And I do, I suppose?" The expression on Giles' face confirmed - for the four-thousand-seven-hundred-and-twenty-n
Giles’ words brought more naughty tingles, but they didn't come alone. They brought along a healthy dose of anger and righteous indignation.
"Is that why you're suddenly going all caveman on me after months of barely being able to stand to see my face? You're afraid you don't match up to vampire stamina? You think I'm with Spike because he's a better fuck?"
Giles didn't say anything, but the sneer on his face asked: Why else?
Xander's anger ticked up a notch and he knew he was about to go places he shouldn't go, but he was past caring.
"You know what? Fuck you. I mean, first of all, you broke up with me, remember? And second of all, you know that that - the sex - was never a problem. I mean, fuck, that was probably the only time you ever let me forget that I was just a stupid kid."
The words seemed to shock Giles out of angry and into confused, on the border with hurt. "You are not stupid. I never said you were stupid."
"Except for the part where you told me I was too stupid to know what I wanted."
"You know that's not what I intended. It's simply that you're so..." Giles trailed off and shut his eyes in defeat. They both knew how the sentence ended.
"You want to know why I'm with Spike?” Xander looked down and up again, waited until Giles had opened his eyes, spoke softly. “Because Spike doesn't treat me like I'm a child."
"Right." Giles' voice was calm, but so dry. "He treats you like you’re a bumbling idiot. I imagine that's much healthier."
"No, he teases me about being a bumbling idiot. And I tease him about being an impotent poseur. It's give and take. Hell, it’s foreplay. And it works for us."
"He's a vampire, Xander."
The sound of clapping – and the brief contemplation of vampicide - and Xander and Giles turned to look at Spike in the doorway, slowly applauding them.
Except for the look of possessiveness in Spike's eyes that made the naughty tingles in Xander's spine send up right here! over here! come get us! flares in spite of common sense's strenuous objections.
"Spill all our little secrets, why don't you, Harris?" Spike dropped his hands to his sides and stalked - yes - stalked toward him and the naughty tingles cheered. Common sense slinked off to have a consolation beer. "Sure you're not forgetting a few? Like the way you like that spot between your shoulder blades sucked on."
"I know about the spot between his shoulder blades, thank you."
Frost and chill and early winter in Giles' voice and Xander wondered if he could still be manly, adult, mature and standing up for himself if he was standing behind Spike.
But no, Xander would be brave. Taking a deep breath, he positioned himself almost, but not quite between them. He was being brave, not stupid. “This is not a contest,” he said. “I am not a trophy to be won.”
You don’t own me. I’m not just one of your many toys… The words played in his head and, yep, Xander was all ready to join the Women’s Lib Movement.
About forty years and one penis too late.
But so what?
Of course, Giles and Spike didn’t seem to notice that Xander was about to burn his bra. In fact, they were so busy staring each other down that they probably wouldn’t have noticed if he’d sprouted breasts to put in it.
Which was a scary thought.
On more than one level.
Xander looked to Spike on his right, then to Giles on his left, and it occurred to him that Giles to Spike wasn’t such a radical transition. Watcher versus vampire, sure, that was a difference, but they both had faces they didn’t show. Giles had his hidden Ripper and Spike his hidden William. Just two sides of the same multiple personality coin, really.
Which probably said something about Xander’s taste in men, but there was no reason to go there.
In fact, there was no reason to go anywhere. Except home with Spike.
So Xander gave up the power of sisterhood in favor of good ol’ Tammy Wynette. He took two steps to his right, until he was standing by his man.
And all of a sudden, his man was making a sound a lot more like a growl than a purr and invading Xander's arms with purpose and sharp, pointy teeth.
That weren't hurting him just - kinda resting there and Xander thought Spike might be shaking when he put an arm up to steady himself.
So Xander was standing by his demon too - and what would Tammy have said about that? Standing by his demon even if his demon was nibbling and Giles was staring at him with an upper lip that looked extra stiff with a double shot of Britishness.
And Xander's eyes said you don't have to watch this while his arms said yeah, the crazy demon's with me.
And Giles said, "I believe we have a meeting to begin," while his eyes said, I'm a Watcher. I watch, or maybe Xander was reading more into those eyes than they were saying.
He answered them out loud. "We can - uh - go."
Giles looked down, the glasses came off and the handkerchief came out. “The others will be wondering what exactly the three of us have been discussing in here.”
Xander nodded, though Giles couldn’t see it. “I won’t tell them…” Spike shifted in his arms as if to pull away, but Xander tightened his grip. “… about you and me, Giles. No need for Scooby-land to get any more Melrose Place.”
And there was a familiar look – the one where Giles looked like Xander was speaking Greek – or you know, some language that Giles actually couldn’t understand.
“It’s this show with Heather Locklear where all these people live in this building and everyone’s sleeping with everyone else and… never mind. The point is, they don’t need to know… about us.” Spike shifted again, but Xander used one arm to keep him in place while the opposite hand slipped under Spike’s chin, lifting until Spike met his eyes. “You, on the other hand, are definitely with me.”
Spike’s sneer was half-hearted at best. Xander gave it a 4.2 on the Big-Badness scale. “What makes you think I want your mates thinking I’m your soddin’ boyfriend, Harris?”
Xander raised an eyebrow. “Um… the part where you practically just peed on me to mark your territory?”
"Vampires don't...pee." Spike tugged again and this time, Xander let him pull away to straighten the duster and the dignity and other vampirey things that were skewed.
Xander wasn't going to mention the ruffled, tufted hair.
Or the way Spike didn't go far.
So Xander shrugged instead and stuffed his hands into his pockets, and considered taking up smoking for something to do that looked cool instead of fidgeting. "I'm getting too old to be sneaking around like Romeo and Juliet."
Spike was muttering under his breath but Xander was pretty sure he caught "Yeah - 'cause that ended well," somewhere in the middle of it and Giles was looking at them both strangely. "What? I can read, y'know."
Xander raised his hands. "I just rented the movie."
They both looked at him strangely.
"Okay. Willow rented the movie - but I stayed awake for the whole thing."
Spike rolled his eyes. “And they say your generation’s got no attention span.”
“Says the poster child for vampire ADD.”
“Least I’m capable of grasping great literature without the help of Leonardo Di bloody Caprio…”
Giles cleared his throat. Loudly. “Beatrice? Benedick? If you two could hold off on your… foreplay until after the meeting, perhaps we might join the others now?”
“Beatrice? Benedick?" Xander whispered as he and Spike headed for the door. "I so don't remember them from the movie."
"Switched plays on us, luv."
"Oh, good." Xander smiled, then frowned. "Wait, unless it was an insult...”
Spike smirked. "Only an insult if I don't know how to answer back."
The smirk got... smirkier. “Man is a giddy thing, and this is my conclusion," Spike tossed back over his shoulder. He turned a smug look on Xander.
"Um... good one?" Xander said.
Spike took his hand and squeezed. “Don’t worry about it, luv. That one's on video, too. I’m sure you can get Willow to rent it.”
Nobody batted an eye when Spike and Xander sat down next to each other.
Not a bat.
Or a wink.
Okay, it's possible there were a few blinks when Xander might have let a shiver slip through his carefully honed mask of 'who, me? You must have me confused with a guy who actually has a vampire's hand on his thigh' and leaned against Spike's shoulder.
But blinks didn’t count.
And when they left together twenty seven minutes into the meeting with Spike's hand firmly attached to Xander's ass… his stalwart Scooby pals were too busy staring to do any batting, fluttering or winking.
And if Giles had smiled at them - and nodded once before taking his glasses off and bringing the conversation back to the oogedy of the week - and if Spike had noticed, he didn’t say.
Maybe there was something in the English guy code against it.
But it left Xander feeling less like meat and more like - well - a different kind of meat.
Or maybe ice cream.
Spike looked like he wanted a lick.
He also looked like he was thinking. Hard.
Spike patted himself down, shuffled through his cigarette ritual and mumbled around the filter, talking to the Zippo. “Just figured you wanted him back, is all. Figured I… figured this was just a way of biding time."
They paused while the cigarette was lit, continued down the sidewalk.
“So did I,” Xander said to his profile.
Spike flicked his lighter closed, took a hard drag and released it, ashing onto someone's lawn. “So?”
Xander reached out and laid his hand on Spike’s shoulder, pinned Spike in place as he moved in front of him. Blue eyes skittered over Xander’s face and down to the cigarette.
Spike lifted it to his lips.
It didn't get there.
“Soooo…” Xander hid the cigarette he’d plucked from Spike’s fingers behind his back and Spike looked at him then – well, glared - but Xander just grinned and waited for the answering twitch of Spike’s lips.
He got it.
“So,” he repeated, leaning in until just an inch remained between them, “I guess we both figured wrong.”