"Xander, you really need to stop letting him...in."
Xander got the feeling that "in" was Buffy's safe, substitute word for a lot of other things he shouldn't let Spike do. He didn't take friendly advice lightly; hadn't their positions been reversed not so many years ago? Of course, she'd blown him off then. Why not return the favor now?
"You're the one who said not to worry," he countered. "'Don't be afraid of the big gay vampire,' you said. 'He won't hurt you. He's as safe as a little bunny rabbit.'"
On Buffy's other side, Willow gave her a careful little look. "You did say that." She was apologetic. "Except for the bunny part."
"I was wrong, okay? Very, very, very, very wrong."
They all came to a halt as Spike stepped into their path from behind some bushes. He and Buffy gave each other the hairy eyeball, like a pair of territorial dogs.
"Spike," she said, folding her arms.
"Slayer. Falling down on the job, aren't you? Slayer senses gettin' a bit dull. Better be careful. Lots of nasties lurking around here. Wouldn't want you to end up with someone else's teeth in your neck. Other than mine, that is."
"You're right," she said in a tone of admission that momentarily surprised Xander, before she turned on her sarcasm ray. "I don't know why I didn't smell you. Eau de graveyard, your signature scent. Is that from the new Calvin Klein line?"
"You know what I miss?" Spike mused, tipping his head reminiscently and smiling in a nasty, focused way. "Days when slayers were brought up like proper ladies. None of this women's lib rubbish. Back then a girl'd curtsey before she'd try to kill you."
"Your fantasy world must be a fun place, Spike."
"Wow," Xander said. "Look at the time. Riveting as this floorshow is, maybe we should think about *killing* things now instead of wounding each other with words."
"I thought you'd never ask," Buffy chirped, pulling out a stake and twirling it into a point-first hold aimed closer to Spike's belt buckle than his chest. More posturing than menacing, but Xander still stepped between them.
"Things *other* than my mostly harmless boyfriend."
Spike tried on a sneer. "Not your boyfriend, you sad plonker."
"Right. And you're here because...?"
Xander could actually see an excuse being made up on the spot.
"Wanted to borrow a tenner."
"You're giving him money now?" Buffy said in outrage from behind him.
He had a snappy answer to that, on the theme of *no*, but her question bounced off him like a tennis ball, unable to distract him from the sudden distraction of Spike's smile. It was one of those tiny, curvy smiles he'd never seen the vampire make before the two of them started doing all those unnerving lip exercises together, and hey, maybe the exercises had loosened up Spike's lips, because this little-boy smile said, "Look at me lying to you. Isn't it cute?" And it was.
Spike had Xander's gaze pinned with his own and Xander realized that, quite possibly, he was smiling back. Oops. He was about to come up with a very good reason to walk away or say something completely mean. Yes, he was. Right this minute, he assured himself as Spike stepped forward, up into his body heat, and kissed him. He hadn't even taken his hands out of his coat pockets, hadn't grabbed Xander or forced him to submit, and yet somehow when he tilted his head, Xander tilted his own, right into the kiss. Oh god.
"Wow," he heard Willow say. He couldn't respond, because his tongue was all tangled up in a vampire's. This was like saying hello in another language. A dead language, like Latin, and boy, Latin was way more fun this way. He'd never have cut Mister Kearn's class if there'd been pop quizzes like this.
Also, people should read Brand New Start, because it's Wes & Spike & Lilah and it's fun. I love the idea of them going off to join forces together; usually there's something kind of sad about spin-offs where a bunch of characters are cut off from other characters and you watch and you think, "But where are X and Y and Z? It's not the same without them." Usually in my own fantasies, I puppy-pile characters together, bring people back who have left, crossover the Angelverse & Buffyverse crews, until it's one big happy dysfunctional family, like at the Thanksgiving dinner from hell. But this story made me think for the first time about how fun it could be to shake things up and recombine characters not just in terms of pairing but in terms of...well, anything. New business ventures, etc. It's exactly what happened when Angel (the series) was launched. It didn't grab me when everyone was talking about a series based on Faith, but apparently when the concept uses some of my favorite characters, I get all oooh, ahhh. I'm so predictable when you push my buttons.