"Buffy told me."
Of course she did. He can hear Willow's grin through the phone.
"And your objection is...?"
"None. I think it's cool."
He tells Spike that: cool.
Spike accepts this with a mildly amused mouth twitch and a quizzical downturn of his eyes, as if he's thinking of something that's funny or doesn't add up. No way to know what except to ask, and Xander doesn't.
There's that mildness again and--not then, but later, apropos of nothing, some TV debate--Xander says: "You were so feisty in New York. Now I can't work up a fight." It's a dumb, off-the-tongue word, feisty, but Spike is staring at him for other reasons, frowning.
Spike: "You want me to fight?"
Xander: "No. Of course not. I'm just saying, you've changed."
Spike, pointedly: "Not me that's changed." And when Xander doesn't get it: "You're a client now, aren't you?" It's like a punch in his gut, and then almost at once Spike is climbing astride Xander and winding his arms around him with an affable but reproving expression. "Now, now. Don't look like that. Nothing to get upset about." It's a seduction of voice that lifts and lowers the words.
Xander: "I thought there was. I thought this was wrong."
"Well, yeah." Spike blinks. "But a good wrong."
The next night they're in a graveyard killing vamps and Xander is still picking at the subject in a roundabout way. "So, you didn't kill anything all the time you were in New York?"
Spike: "Not after the first few months. Couldn't."
It's the first time he's said that word and it snags Xander's attention: "What do you mean couldn't?"
Spike, dusting a vamp: "They wouldn't let me."
It's like pulling teeth. Fangs.
Spike: "Local bosses. Demons." He's spinning, kicking, not out of breath at all, except in the permanent way. "Called me on the carpet not long after I got there--threw me on the carpet, more like, after playing piñata with my innards." He frowns. "Dripped a lot, but it was a red carpet. Which is sort of odd, now that I--"
"Anyway. Said if I killed any more of 'my own kind', quote, I'd be made an example of. 'S why I had to look for other work."
Xander is flummoxed, upset about things that happened two years ago or more: "You could have left."
Spike, as the last fledge explodes, looks at him and says simply: "Could've. Didn't."
After pushing at the subject all the way home, Xander senses Spike getting tense, tight-lipped, and testy, and that is reason enough to keep at it, because that's his agenda--wind Spike up, get him kicking. Except when he figures that out, staring across the kitchen at Spike's set shoulders and stiff back, Xander lets it go. It wasn't fun five years ago, and it's less fun now.
They don't talk about New York for a long while.
In the immediate while of their lives, Xander is figuring out how to make love to Spike. If they've been hot and heavy already, it's now becoming humid. Tropical. As the novelty of paid sex wears off, Xander wants more. Can't get enough, wants more, gives more. He's all about making Spike lie back and take it now, learning his buttons, making him clench his fists on the sheets and turn his head aside and force back snarls. Dick bobbing up heavily, arching until it rests on his belly, swollen and dark and getting all wet at the head. That's before Xander even touches it, some nights.
He's gotten handcuffs, and it's a no-brainer that Spike likes them. But it's interesting to find out how much. Answer: way more than Xander expected. Frantic, gasping, hip-thrashingly more as Xander works him over and sucks him off and teases his ass. Sort of French Vanilla there, and if Spike gets so wild-eyed over this stuff, which has to be tame, what does real kink do to him? Scary thought.
Harsh sobs into Xander's pillows. Game face sometimes. Cursing, begging, strangled yelling. And the Night of Eleven Orgasms, which will awe Xander for years after that, since none of them were his. He kept his own tab, a modest number, but stayed home from work the next day, sore and exhausted and hormonally hungover from his efforts.
Now it's Spike who is beginning to look blissed out from all the sex. He looks the way certain surfers do, guys Xander sees on the nearby beach sometimes, thoroughly baked on sun, weed, and waves, with eyes that look as if they've seen god.
Now it's Spike who sometimes comes up behind Xander and dares to manhandle him, hungrily sliding himself up under Xander's shirt, rubbing against his backside, mauling his neck with soft noises. Palm skating smoothly into the front of his jeans, reaching for Xander's cock, drawing it upright as if he's trying to tug a carrot from the earth.
They goof off and around, and have taken up a new hobby of grinning at each other, and when they have dinner with the girls, their audience is full of knowing glances and teases.
Wes comes up from L.A. on an errand--they're in the Magic Box for the confab--and he gives the two of them funny looks.
A week later, Angel shows up with little warning and visits them for an evening, disappearing to walk along the beach with Spike for an hour, returning with the same expressionless face he left with and delivering a few bland words of goodbye to Xander accompanied by a dark, direct, warning gaze, but after the other vampire leaves, Spike tells Xander his old sire has a lot of things on his mind, and Xander isn't sure but he thinks Spike may have gotten a little boost from Angel's willingness to take time out and check on him.
This makes him feel a strange thing. Happiness. Anything that associates happiness and Angel doesn't seem natural to Xander, but if Angel makes Spike feel good in any way, however small, he'll go along.