Nicolette Says Jump

Nicolette Says Jump

By Kalima

Rating: NC17
Summary: Spike has a yen for a big girl. Xander eats too many brownies. Hijinks ensue.
Notes: Thanks to Herself and all my lj friends for the X-Mas prezzies that made me dance around my living room. Estepheia for chat. Jayb for the VCDs. And Liz because she lurves him. And if I've forgotten anyone, I'm sure Spike, our soddin' savior, will forgive me. Season 4, shortly after Something Blue. It's comedy people. Comedy with drugs, alcohol, naughty Scrabble, and sex between quasi- consenting adults, one of whom is a Big Girl, hefty, large-boned. Lyrics from The Grateful Dead are used for evil purposes. You have been warned.

***

"Time buries wounds, Rupert, it doesn't heal them. Just piles the dirt on. Wounds are still there, underneath. And I for one have been profoundly wounded. Bloody violated is what I've been! I asked the Slayer to marry me for fuck's sake! Never gonna forget the way she was all over me, squirming around in my lap, shoving her tongue down my throat, deadly little hands down my--"

"Yes! All right. Enough," Giles said, with tight smile, whipping off his glasses and giving them a vigorous polish. "We understand, Spike, how dreadful it must have been for you above all others. I was only blind after all. But wounds heal with time. We get over it. That's all I meant by that tired old adage."

"Fine for you. But the memories of how I got those wounds will be with me forever." He aimed a self-righteous sniff Willow's direction. "Memory is-is -- scored into our flesh, innit? Into the very marrow of our bones. Memory is cellular."

Willow eeped suddenly and squirmed on the sofa in a way Xander knew from long association meant she was intellectually stimulated, and not that she was feeling guilty, or that she had to pee really, really bad, which is what it looked like. At the opposite end of the sofa, Anya was likewise squirming -- in boredom Xander assumed until she announced her need to pee and padded down the hall to the bathroom.

"That's very L. Ron Hubbard of you," Willow said. To Spike. Like she was throwing down the gauntlet of discourse to the Café society of 1920's Paris. She couldn't really carry off the Gertrude Stein, but still, it seemed to take the edge off Spike's lame-ass holier-than-thou business. Aha! Xander thought, betcha don't even know who L. Ron Hubbard is, do ya, pal?

"Hubbard was a hack science fiction writer and even more of a hack messiah," the vampire replied. "Anyway, not like he was the first person to think of it. I mean, there's a whole school of thought, long before his engrams nonsense--"

"Not -- not entirely nonsense, engrams," Giles interjected, "A monk at Trefoil Abbey postulated in the early fifteenth century--"

Thus began what Xander would later call the Surreal Hour. It could have been the Surreal Ten Minutes but his eyes glazed after only five. Was his best friend really talking Dianetics and Scientology with his worst enemy? Was Spike his worst enemy or did that honor still belong to Mr. Vanderbeck, his 8th grade gym teacher? Was Giles having the lamest mid-life crisis ever if this discussion was, as it appeared to be, the highlight of his evening? And what the hell did a Soccer Guy have to do with anything?

"Not Soccer Guy, Xander," Willow laughed. Oops, apparently he'd said that out loud. "Soka Gai. It's Japanese."

Spike was giving him the condescending Brit eye, and that was just the wrongest of wrong. He gave him the "Fuck off, English dickwad" eye, and returned to not listening very much.

Anya was now squeezed into the chair beside him, their hips rubbing together painfully. Spike was saying something about "those Nam Myoho buggers" and how them and Scientologists were more cunning than vampires in the way they targeted their prey. Willow went off about the law of cause and effect, and karma, which somehow came back to memory and Spike's original point, which was how he'd been woefully wronged by Willow's spell, and how he could never ever recover from that humiliation.

"-especially what happened in the bathroom," he finished solemnly.

Silence followed, silence with a lot of noisy swallowing. Then Giles said, "The two of you were never in the bathroom together. In fact, as I recall, the only time you went into the bathroom, Buffy had gone to the magic shop and you offered to fetch me my eye drops."

"Well, I was missing her pretty hard while I was in there, wasn't I? Missing her something painful. Had to have myself a bit of a toss-"

Giles lurched to his feet. "That's it! I've had all I can take of you for one - lifetime. Xander, I'm afraid Spike is your charge tonight."

"No! Come on! Why do I get punished for his bad behavior? Can't we just stake him, for the love of God?"

"If he stays here another night that's a certainty."

"What? What did I say? Not my fault I was all hot for the Slayer and wanting to marry her. I didn't do a spell on me - and everyone."

"I've said I'm sorry!" Willow cried. "How much sorrier can I be?"

"You could magic this bloody microchip out of my head for starters!"

"I have menstrual cramps," Anya said, picking up her purse. "I'm going home."

Yeah. Memory was cellular all right.



"Ever had a big girl, Harris?"

"What?" The band was loud, the crowd was raucous, and Xander still didn't know exactly why he was here. He felt like that often of late, as if he was sleepwalking through both his days and his nights, swept along by the desires of others, without will, but only because he couldn't be bothered to exert any.

"What?" he shouted again. Spike leaned closer. Too close, but there was nothing for it. It was either listen to Spike here, or be forced to listen to him at home where there were no distractions.

"A big girl? With a nice dimpled bum and a belly like a down pillow. A girl all soft and round and full of delightful pockets of flesh just waiting for an intrepid explorer like yourself to do some serious spelunking." Spike angled his eyeballs toward a girl sitting at the bar. He waggled his brows. "Ever had one?"

Ah. A big girl. Rubenesque. Hefty. Large-boned. Brightly colored tattoos on a broad canvas, wearing a mixture of retro gothic crushed velvet and inappropriately tight pleather.

He shook his head. "Fat? Not so sexy."

"Are you insane? There's a woman's flesh in all its radiant splendor. Your generation's been brainwashed by the advertising industry. Come on. Look at the tits on her and tell me you don't imagine what those'd feel like pressed around your--"

"Okay! One: rude. She's a person, right? Not just a collection of parts for your pleasure. And two--" He paused at two, because she'd turned a bit on the bar stool, and one thigh slid out of the slit in her skirt, and it was a big thigh sure, but very -- shapely inside the shiny black casing of her stocking. Then, oh god, she leaned over to smooth that shiny black stocking over that big shapely thigh and his eyes were suddenly filled with the sight of those other body parts that had Spike waxing so poetic. The tits. Yeah, they were pretty, uh, pretty big that is. Big, round, sculpted mounds rising over the top of her inappropriately tight pleather corset like the twin suns of that planet in the original Star Trek where a bunch of disembodied brains bet quatloos on gladiator fights between Kirk and a sexy girl with green hair and why couldn't he remember the name of the planet and -- wait, didn't that planet have three suns?

"Still with me, monkey boy?"

Breasts. Big. "Yowsa," Xander whispered.

Spike sighed. "Oh, to be a sultan lolling about the cushiony softness of that favored concubine." His eyes moved from the object of his interest back to Xander, a sullen and reluctant acknowledgment of something unpleasant but necessary -- like a port-o-potty. "Back in the day, I mean back in the day when I actually walked in the day, girls like the Slayer, your witch, they would've been padding and stuffing like mad just to come close to a beauty like that. We knew how to appreciate the flesh back then."

"Whatever, Grandpa. And hello? Drusilla looks like a bunch of sticks lashed together - big freaking head stuck on top."

"Love is blind, Harris. And she does not! Anyway, one-eyed Jack has a different way of looking at things, don't he?"

"Who the hell's One-eyed --oh. Must be a regional euphemism."

"That one's older than I am. What do you prefer? Stiffy? Woody?" He glanced in the vicinity of Xander's crotch. "Tiny Dancer?"

"Oo-kay. We're done here. It's time to get you home and tie you to a chair."

A few heads turned sharply their direction. "Say that a little louder and you'll have all sorts of new friends."

"Don't think the Bronze hosts a fetish night. Sorry." But instead of hustling the annoying vampire out the door, he grabbed a peanut from the complimentary bowl and rolled it between his fingers, looking around furtively in case he was wrong and there were fetishists lurking about. Nope. The only person who looked remotely like a fetishist was the fat girl at the bar. His eyes drifted her direction, because she was at least different to look at and took up more space while doing so. He supposed she wasn't that fat. Not like she'd need one of those electric shopping carts he'd seen the really, really obese people using at the Albertson's on Hadley. He wondered vaguely if vampires could get fat on fat people, flicked a glance at Spike, then back to the girl at the bar.

She had a fresh drink before her, and her lips closed around the twin straws in the glass, slowly sucking the pale green slush of her beverage into her glistening red mouth, swallowing, swallowing deep into that plump column of a throat--

Spike made a small sound, between a whimper and a moan. Took a long thoughtful swallow of beer. "What d'you reckon my chances at getting a leg over?"

In a desperate bid for equilibrium he said, "Not sure what that means exactly, but if it means what I think it means, I reckon if you can actually get your leg over her you'll have a shot - what with you be a good-looking guy and her being, you know, fat."

Spike looked at him, a look dangerously close to disapproval. Yes, yes, definite disapproval in that dismissive, disgusted glance. So -- what? Spike was now Mister Mature and Xander the emotionally crippled bully? Must correct immediately.

"I don't know what your chances are. If she has half a brain, probably not good. Doesn't matter though, because we're leaving."

"Oh ho ho. Not bloody likely."

"Bloody certain, yeah. It's late, I have to--"

"Don't give me a line about having to work tomorrow because I heard you tell your mates you don't. Christ on a crutch, Harris! Where's your sense of adventure? Are you completely incapable of having any sort of fun since you were forced to start earning your own way?"

He started to say that being in a bar trying to pick up a fat chick with Spike was nobody's idea of fun. But really, he just didn't want Spike to have any fun. And maybe his reason was petty, but so what? Spike was evil and a pain in the ass. Why should he get to do what he wanted with whomever he wanted whenever he wanted? Xander was in charge here. Xander owned Spike's ass right now. Xander was calling the shots. Xander--

The big girl at the bar had removed the straws from her beverage, and was licking sugar or salt or something from the rim of her glass. The peanut in his fist crumbled into dust.

"Mmmm ... delicious," Spike murmured.

"What kind of fun can you have anyway?" Xander asked sullenly. "It's not like you can bite her."

"Contrary to popular belief, sometimes a vampire just wants to get himself laid. You coming?"

"You don't need me for that."

"Well, no. But I think she's giving you the eye."

Oh, god. She was.



"No see," the lovely big girl was explaining, wiping the red-lipped stain from around the rim of her Midori daiquiri with a cocktail napkin, "If you're not gay, then you're probably like that guy in Silence of the Lambs-"

Spike was clearly flattered. "Hannibal Lector?"

"No. She means the other one," Xander said. She grinned at him and the deep dimples in her cheeks caused him to grin back to the point of painfulness.

"Right," she said, "The other one. The one who was killing the fat girls so he could make dresses out of their skin or whatever. You know, the one with the little poodle."

"Could have saved himself a lot of hard work at the sew machine if he'd just got inside a woman in the traditional sense," Spike grumbled.

"Maybe he was afraid he'd get lost, wouldn't be able to find his way out again."

"Poor fellow. Fortunately I know my way around -- those parts."

"Uh huh. Well, I'm a big girl, little man."

"You're not that big and I'm not that little. 'Least I've not had complaints about my size."

Xander groaned. She snorted. "Women only complain about a man's ... size to each other. Besides, I don't go with guys who weigh less than me."

"Well, that isn't fair. Can't rightly ask a lady her weight or her age."

"Your charm is rapidly verging on smarmy."

Surprisingly, Spike laughed. Xander had to give her points for use of the word smarmy.

"Anyway, I can tell just by looking at you you're at least 40, maybe 50 pounds lighter than me."

"Harris here isn't." Xander made a squeaky sound meant to convey something along the lines of hey, leave me out of this.

"No. He isn't." She caught his eye again, and her eyes were blue, and her hair was black, carefully coifed to look messy, with shiny tendrils brushing across dimple here, a soft round shoulder there, drawing his eyes downward to those mountains of goddessy goodness --

Yup. Spike could nail sexy at fifty paces, whereas he couldn't spot it until it actually bit him on the ass and forced him to cry ow, sexy. Like now. Ow. Sexy.

"Are you trying to set up your friend then?"

Scoffing from both men. "Not my friend." And "Hell no."

"Anyway, mere physical weight doesn't mean much to me," Spike was saying, "Not because I can't appreciate it, aesthetically speaking, because, believe me, I can and do - and I know, yeah, what I'm about to tell you might sound like so much shite, but really, really, I could pick you up right now, carry you up to the catwalk without breaking a sweat or even breathin' heavy. You'd weigh no more than the feather from an angel's wing."

Oh, and doesn't that sound pretty when you leave out the supernatural vampire strength part of the equation.

"I could press you soft against the wall, do you standing up."

Do her? Jesus. Get over your bad self, Spike.

"What they call a knee trembler, that. Only - my knees wouldn't be trembling."

Spike's voice taken on a quality, which Xander didn't catch up with until it was sliding into him, smooth and thick as buttermilk, and as insinuating as the muzak version of any Beatles song. He shuddered, rapt and listening while trying not to actually hear any of it.

"You'd tremble, though. Your knees and all your other parts. You'd be melting around me, sighing, moaning, begging me not to stop-"

There it was, in the region of Xander's solar plexus, a subsonic rumble like the purr of a big dangerous cat. Sure. Could be purring because it was sated, could be purring because it was about to be.

"And I wouldn't," the cat went on. "Stop. Wouldn't stop until you couldn't take another second, until you begged and begged again, and again and again--"

Was this the vampire thrall then? Because if it was, wow, really cool. And also -- kind of unsettling. He blinked. Gulped. Shook his head, then his entire body gave a totally unrehearsed little shiver.

Holy Fuck. I want to learn to be a Jedi, Obi Wan.

The girl drew in a breath, the knowledge of breathing having recently been restored to her. "Intriguing," she said. There was a definite hitch in her voice. "Even if you're full of shite." She held out her hand. "Hello. I'm Nicolette. Friends don't call me Nikki."

Spike took the hand and gave it a polite, if lingering shake. "I'm sure they wouldn't dare. Spike."

"Spike, huh? What a coincidence. The very name I picked out for my first born child."

"Ah, well, now we're gettin' a bit ahead of ourselves."

"Scared yet?"

"Don't scare that easily."

"You know, you look more like a Billy to me."

Then Spike smiled - a slow predatory grin, just lips, no teeth. "Friends don't call me Billy."

Okay, now there was something definitely going on. They were making a connection. Sharing a moment of erotic non-verbal communication. Well, screw that.

"Hi," he said thrusting his hand between the two of them. "I'm Xander. Friends don't call me - uh. Uh. Oh. Sorry. Brain-freeze."

She took his hand and shook it by way of a squeeze. He thought she might have winked, but he couldn't be sure because she was already turning back to the bleached wonder with the tingle inducing voice. In her. Tingle-inducing in her. Jesus. Strategic retreat with some serious regrouping in order. And also, a piss. "Excuse me. I'm gonna--"

"Yeah. Go shake the dew off that lily, why don't you? Take your time."

At the urinal he pondered the situation. How was it that Spike could manage to turn things around, act like a big shot when he was currently a more pathetic loser than Xander? What was his fiendish secret? And how could it be usurped and harnessed for the purpose of good? He shook the dew off the lily and thought about calling Anya, because even with the menstrual cramps and the general bitchiness associated therewith he could still snuggle up next to her and she'd pretend he was a big old hot water bottle soothing her pain and it would be something solid and certain - this is my hot girlfriend, mine, mine, mine. Until such time that she changed her mind, discovered the cowardly liar beneath the pretty good sex and rapier wit.

There was a payphone in the corridor and he paused in a halfhearted search for change. Nicolette chose that moment to pass him on her way to the facilities. Gave him a sly, big dimpled smile and a sultry gaze from under her lashes. He very pointedly didn't turn to watch her as she went into the ladies room. It would be wrong, because, as much as it troubled him, he'd never be able to publicly acknowledge an attraction to a big ass. He had enough trouble trying to justify Anya to his friends and she just had the big mouth problem.

This entire fat-girl lust-o-rama scenario was making him look bad and Spike look good. Spike had no trouble whatsoever hitting on her right out in the open. Spike who was out there even now, waiting for them to return from the--

Spike. Out there. Waiting. Waiting patiently for Xander to take him back to the luxury basement suite of the Hotel de Blanco Trasho where he would be spending the night in the least comfortable chair in the world. Right. This was probably all part of the Spike master plan. Drag Harris to the Bronze, get him to chat up a fat girl. Bait and switch. Cut and run. Fuck! Buffy would be so annoyed if Spike ran off before spilling the dirt on those commando guys. If she found time to stop macking on her new Teutonic boyfriend, that is.

He rushed out into the main room, seeking the white lantern of Spike's head in the crowd. Heart pounding. Jumped and squealed like a girl when the demon asshole grabbed his arm.

"Need a favor," Spike hissed.

"Already did you a favor by coming here, Billy."

"What? Not having fun? Never mind. This is another favor. You'll be home in your ma's basement watching the sci-fi channel before you can say fruit roll-ups."

"I'm not doing you any more favors."

"Come on Harris! Got a chance to get myself laid here. You have your little demon bird, and know for a fact you get it nigh on every bleedin'day! I haven't been with anything warmer than my own hand for weeks."

"My life does not revolve around gettin' you sum. And your hand is cold, by the way."

"Friction--"

"Shut up! I'm not pimping for you okay?"

Spike let go of his arm in apparent shock. "Jesus, Harris. Not asking you to. She invited me, and I'm going, right? You want to keep an eye on me, have to tag along."

"Why the hell would you want me to tag along? And hell no. It's back to the basement for you pal."

"Maybe she's got a friend that'll suit you."

"I have a girlfriend." Sort of.

"--well, maybe she's got a scrawny little friend with the voice of a nag then, and if you close your eyes you won't even know the difference. Come on. Do a bloke a favor." Mr. Smooth leaned in, his mouth an inch from Xander's ear. Tiny hairs along his jaw line quivered like cilia. "Girl's got a kink, particular itch she wants scratched. Could be interesting. Find your balls and take a bleeding chance on some fun, why don't you? Live a little."

"I live a little already, and I don't need you telling me how, and - kink? What-what kind of kink?"

"Oh, nothing - too dangerous. Only she doesn't quite trust me, right--"

"Huh, go figure--"

"But she trusts you. Says you look safe. Nice. Affable."

"I am so not playing the affable sidekick to you!"

"Look, pizza boy, I'm gonna have myself a nice friendly poke tonight one way or the other and you can't stop me--"

"Oh I beg to differ, Dead Boy Slim. Why, lookee there. Who's that standing over yonder with the buzz-cut and the grim expression? Could it be one of those commandos gone undercover and hunting for your ass?"

Spike whirled, wide-eyed, nostrils a-flaring, looking for buzz-cuts with grim expressions. Saw none. Turned to Xander again. "Why are you torturing me like this? Have I ever tortured you?"

"Well, yeah."

"I have?" He looked genuinely confused, then a teensy bit terrified. "You think this chip is erasing my memories or something?"

"No. It's your continued existence that tortures me."

"Ha bloody ha. You want me to beg, because I'm not above begging here--"

"Hey guys."

They both jumped. And before Xander could say Wink Martindale, Spike had linked hands with Nicolette and was gliding towards the door. He had no choice but to follow them. He figured he could make a scene louder and better outside anyway.

So how he ended up in the backseat of Nicolette's Honda Civic on his way to her apartment was a mystery inside an enigma wrapped in a blanket of who gives a fuck and oh what the hell.



"I have Ecstasy."

"I am ecstasy, love."

Xander caught her look in the review mirror as she eased over into the right lane, both the roll of her eyes and the glint of interest. Spike was in the passenger seat next to her, neatly avoiding the mirror problem.

"Um -- you mean the drug?"

"Yeah. Never had it? You'll love it."

"I doubt that. Don't do the drugs."

"What are you talking about? You have a bottle of plain label Kentucky bourbon stashed under your bed."

He stifled his initial reaction to the thought of a vampire digging around under his bed, mostly because of the other stuff Spike had undoubtedly noticed was stashed under there. "That's not the same as drugs!"

"Well, I have vodka," she offered.

"Thanks, but really I-I shouldn't. I mean I'm underage and everything."

Up in front, Spike sighed heavily, and shook his head. "I despair of you Harris, truly."

Nicolette laughed. "It's okay. I made brownies this afternoon. You like brownies, dontcha little boy?"

"Look," Spike declared with an edge of impatience, "You two can do whatever gets your swerve on. Don't need my mood altered." He reached over and squeezed her knee, or possibly something else if her little squeak was any indication. "My current mood'll do just fine."

Xander put his hand on his own knee to keep it from jerking uncontrollably. He looked around the interior. Burger King bags, and empty to-go cups from the Espresso Pump littered the floor around his feet. And also what he thought might be a lipstick or maybe a tampon. "So, this is what, a '92, '93? Good car." He could feel Spike roll his eyes even if he couldn't see it. He sighed. "Fine. Brownies. Sounds good."



She really did have brownies, dense and moist, with a subtle flavor he couldn't quite identify. His experiences with cookies that tasted better than any other cookie ever, and band candy that turned adults into rowdy teenagers, and beer that turned people into knuckle-dragging proto-humanoids, should have clued him in. If it tastes better than sex with chocolate sauce on top then there was probably something iffy about it. Which turned out to be true. Just didn't happen to be magic involved.

"These are the best brownies ever. I'm not kidding. You made these yourself?"

"Uh huh. The secret is to soak the hash in Mexican vanilla before infusing the butter."

Oh, and of course, he'd already eaten three. Now, some indeterminate time later, he was lying on her bed -- a mattress in the middle of the room, swathed in velvet and fake fur pillows, around which the rest of her world revolved: television, sound system, sliding glass doors that opened onto a lanai, bathroom, closet, coffee table with many candles, kitchenette, front door. He had his arm flung over his eyes and his eyes squeezed firmly shut beneath the arm. If he stayed blind like this, entrenched within the landscape of his mind (a gently undulating velvety brown-ness rather like a sea of breasts made out of brownies), he felt less wigged out. And also the mantra seemed to help,

"Oh god oh god oh god oh god--"

"Harris. Relax."

Easy for Spike to say. Spike wasn't the one stoned out of his mind in a strange girl's studio apartment unable to defend himself against the onslaught of Spike's hilarious choice in music. The Moody Blues? Why, lord, why?

"-oh god oh god oh god oh god--"

"You've got to get into the groove, go with the flow, be one with the-"

"You're about to tell me you were at Woodstock, aren't you?"

"Yeah. Wild gig, that was. Fucking brilliant."

"You were at Woodstock?" That was Nicolette's voice. Or he hoped so. "So you're that cute baby I saw in the movie. Why'd you change your name to Spike, though? Liquid Sunshine Acidtrip suits you so well."

"You're a cruel bitch."

"I thought you liked that in a girl."

"Come're then and show me."

Then there were the sounds of serious kissage. Wet slurpy sounds. And the slough of clothing, plus a kind of suction sound which he figured was the pleather coming away from her skin, and the moaning and more slurping and a thump and some ominous low throated growls. He didn't want to move his arm to look. If Spike somehow managed to bite her, that was her problem for getting him stoned like this. He was in no condition to help her. And plus, he'd have to move his arm. Better to drift off to the sounds of --

Well, the first days are the hardest days,
don't you worry anymore
When life looks like Easy Street,
there is danger at your door

No, not the Grateful Dead! The evil bastard! Pulled helplessly into the vortex of a never-ending Jerry Garcia solo, Xander surrendered to the velvet interiors of his brain.

An eternity later--

It's a Buck Dancer's Choice my friend
better take my advice--

Inside his head he sang along, wondering how and why he knew the lyrics when he'd actively avoided listening to the Grateful Dead for most of his life.

You know all the rules by now
and the--

"That's a tight little surprise!"

Huh. That didn't sound like Jerry Garcia.

Will you come with me?
Won't you come with me--

"Well, it's the only exercise I actually like."

"Aah. Ah. Jesus. You're -- you're soooo bloody good at it!"

Goddamn, well I declare
Have you seen the like?
Their walls are built of cannonballs,
their motto is--

"Christ! Fuck. Fuck me! You. Great. Beautiful. Bitch!"

Then there was some sort of an earthquake. An earthquake that went on forever. An earthquake with talking. It was true then. Spike never ever shut up.

Xander knew if he kept his eyes closed he could pretend he didn't know what was going on. If he kept his eyes closed, it was like a carnival ride, with the laughter, the shouts, the high-pitched screams of delight, the exhilarating, nauseating thrill at that split second of weightlessness before gravity pulled you down again. Yeah. A fun park ride.

The Monster Sledgehammer.

So many thoughts went through his head as the mattress inched its way across the floor.

This is so embarrassing. Should I keep pretending I'm asleep? Jeez, they couldn't have rolled me into the bathroom first? This music sucks. Oh my god, those noises she's making are so damned sexy! I should get out of here. Shit, I don't even know where I am. I wonder if there's a bus line close by? Didn't we pass a Texaco on the way here? They probably have a pay phone. I could call a cab. I wonder what she looks like naked? I only have a couple of bucks and some change. Goddamn Spike anyway! Undead bastard. I wonder what he looks like when he's doing it? How do vampires get erections anyway? They don't have any circulation. Maybe it's some kind of supernatural thing. Huh. Supernatural erections. Wonder how long those last? Doesn't sound like he's gonna last too much longer. Oh man, is that her knee or his? Hers definitely. Soft. Really soft. I'll bet her tits are like great big moon shaped Jell-O jigglers. Must resist urge to look. Must resist--

Just one eye. I'll just open one eye.

He turned his head toward the slickery, soppy, suction sound of in-out, in-out, the slap of bones and bare skin, the rattle of Spike's happy profanities, her oh gods and breathy laughing delight. One eye. Just a peek. And there, there, so close a deep breath would roll him up against her - Nicolette in all her radiant splendor, an undulating lollapalooza of voluptuous flesh. His eye traveled from the broad, flattened cheek of her ass to the roll of her hip. A hint of belly as Spike arched up between her legs. Her thigh pushed towards her chest, brushing a surprisingly delicate nipple on a globe of flesh that didn't look like any of the usual breast/food comparisons -- not grapefruits or melons, though it made his mouth water, which was good because he kind of had cotton mouth. He tried not to swallow though, for fear they would hear him and know he was awake. Quiet, quiet. Looking with just the one eye. And follow the thigh up to the plump knee hooked over a bony white shoulder to the luscious curve of a calf, to the ankle that seemed too narrow to carry the weight of her then up further to the curl of her toes. He wanted to suck on her toes. He wanted to lick the perspiration from the back of her knee. He wanted Spike to move so he could look his fill. He was so hard now it hurt. He should probably close his eye--

But then she turned her head, strands of dark hair damp across her cheek and forehead, and she looked at him. Smiled. It was the most lascivious smile he'd ever seen. The soft moan that escaped him was beyond his control, and he opened his other eye the better to see her smiling.

Between her legs, Spike swiveled his hips and her smile changed shape. "Oh," she gasped. "Oh, oh, oh, god, oh yes, that's it, that's it! OH MY GOD!" And then it was all head thrashing and exclamations of orgasmic joy. Spike was sputtering flowery testimonials to her cunt. And in the middle of it, her hand reached out and, flailing, found Xander's. She could have taken hold of his dick for the effect it had on him. He came. And so did Spike. They all came at the same time. Except, unlike Xander, neither one of them was still wearing pants.



"You can't stay in there forever Harris."

Yes I can. "When are my pants going to be done?" He called through the bathroom door.

"I only put them in the wash ten minutes ago," Nicolette shouted back, laughing.

"I'll wait here."

He sat on the fluffy pink toilet lid cover, head in hands. Why had he surrendered his beloved khakis? His shirt was long enough to cover the damage. He could have beat a hasty retreat and left them to their own -- devices. Happened to be a device on the bamboo shelf, right next to a hair blower. The combination of hair blower and -- device sent his mind to a strange magical land where women managed to style their hair and get themselves off simultaneously. He couldn't even blame this mental meandering on being high -- which he still was, though not nearly as stoned as before -- because his mind went frolicking in happy porno land on a regular basis and with little provocation. He stared at the pink flamingo shower curtain. Still--

The whole thing reeked of a set-up. A plot. Some kind of nefarious Spike plot.

"I have snacks," she called in a sing-song-y voice. "I know you have the munchies. Just wrap a towel around you and come out. Promise we won't laugh."

"Promise no such thing," he heard Spike say, then, "Ow."

"What kind of snacks?" Dammit. That came out of his mouth before he could stop it. You know, they never mentioned the stuff about how gateway drugs like hash and marijuana led to the tragedies of overeating and possible weight gain. That when you were high the only thing you thought about when they showed "this is your brain on drugs" was the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny's.

"Cheetos and Chunky Monkey ice cream. Ooh. Coconut curry noodles from the Bangkok Kitchen."

Tempting -- but no. He wasn't leaving the bathroom until he was zipped into his warm-from-the-dryer khakis and could continue on with the leaving right out the front door. Thirst had been slated with water from the faucet so the dry mouth was no longer a pressing issue. He was fully prepared to bunker down here for the duration of the wash and dry cycles. Then he'd walk home. Perhaps it would be near sunrise then and he'd be treated to a nice vampire flambé.

Mmmm ...flambé-d something. Followed by Chunky Monkey ice cream. He could hear the rattle of what he assumed was a bag of Cheetos, the twist of a cap and that refreshing fizzy sound from a carbonated beverage frothing over, clink of metal, maybe a spoon--

Well, shit. Fine then. He wrapped the pink towel around his lower half and opened the door. Nicolette beamed at him around a mouthful of noodles. She was draped in a robe, red silky thing with Chinese dragons embossed in silver. Her shoulders and upper arms were bare, and he could see the dragon tattoo in red and black between her shoulder blades, and, as he stepped around the pillows and over the scattered clothing on the floor, he saw the black one on her arm that looked like Chinese calligraphy. There were others -- Celtic knot, maybe a dragonfly -- but as soon as eyes met breasts the tattoo tour was over. Unfortunately something kept getting in his line of sight.

Sitting cross-legged in front of Nicolette, wearing nothing but jeans and a frown of concentration between his dark brows, Spike was applying ruby colored lipstick to her nipples, looking a lot like a kid with a crayon, what with the way the tip of his tongue poked out from the corner of his mouth in an unbearably cute and highly suspect manner. Nicolette was watching television, eating the noodles cold from a to-go carton, politely trying to keep the motion of fork to mouth from getting in the way of his artistic endeavor.

There were times when a guy just had to come out with his hands up and surrender to the absurd. Xander tucked the end of the towel in more securely and declared,

"Lipstick tastes like crap you know."

Spike smirked, wicked and sly. Still not looking at him. "Depends on the lipstick."

"Even the flavored stuff. Cough syrup flavored Vaseline."

"Vaseline has its uses."

"I think water soluble lubricants are recommended these days. But then, health and safe-sex issues probably don't matter much to you."

"Huh --what?" Nicolette mumbled. She finished slurping the noodle into her mouth and swallowed. Stared at one man, then the other. "We used a condom."

Spike chuckled at Xander's expression, and waved one languid hand at the coffee table where gold foil packets were scattered between sputtering candles and snack foods like pirate's booty. He gazed at Xander again, smugly acknowledging the truth about himself he knew Xander wouldn't dare divulge because it might frighten her or make her think he was out of his freaking mind. Or both.

"I'm a responsible bloke," Spike said and bent to his task once again.

A titter of astonishment at just how boldly full of shit the guy could be was cut short when he remembered his resolution never to titter in front of girls again. Especially girls who let you see them naked. His mouth was suddenly dry. This girl had the prettiest nipples he'd ever seen, and they were real. Perfectly symmetrical areolas glistened claret red from Spike's careful applications. He tried to swallow and heard it echoing loudly in the small room.

"Yeah, well -- still lipstick. Still tastes like crap." The words started out confident and ended in a tremulous whisper.

Spike swizzled the lipstick down into the tube and put the cap on it. "Speaking from your great and vast experience no doubt."

"I've kissed enough to know. Kissed plenty of girls."

Leaning forward, mouth parted slightly, vampire lips closed around the painted pretty. He kissed her breast like it was another mouth, slow, lingering, almost tender kisses. Then he drew back, lips still closed around her nipple, pulled her breast out, and let go with a plop. Xander'd seen babies do that very same thing. She giggled and sighed, and her tit shook like jelly for a long time after -- relatively speaking. Time enough for Xander's man parts to stir beneath the towel and erect a tent.

Again Spike looked at him, this time from under his lashes, head cocked and angled in his direction with a practiced flirtatious ease. Mouth rouged with ruby, he grinned, and yes, there was a touch of evil in it, if only because it was so fucking sure of itself that smile, with a mock and a challenge, and a promise of all kinds of things a person didn't even know they wanted until he cocked his head that way and smiled.

"Ever kiss a fella?"

Oh, oh, and then it was all tangled up - protest, desire, outrage, the towel and the smear of red on her breasts, on Spike's taunting mouth, and he'd dropped to his knees on the mattress before he knew what was happening. Still he knew enough to understand when he was being mocked, being challenged. So when he crawled forward and leaned in to kiss her other breast instead of Spike's smeared lips, it was a gesture that shouted fuck you asshole. But that gesture became meaningless quickly. In fact-- Spike? Spike who?

Kissing, sucking, lipstick tastes bad, but god her tits, need two hands for each one, and she's dropped the fork somewhere that might prove dangerous later, and such a soft little sigh, and she's falling back, back, falling open beneath him. Like a cave, like a womb enfolding, enveloping and she's so soft. Her hands on his back, his buttocks, stroking up and over and down. He barely notices as other hands enter into the mix. Mapping out the tendons, muscles, bones in his legs, his ass, his arms, magic massage of many, many fingers. His own hands are scooping fistfuls of flesh to his mouth, licking, nibbling and gnawing. "She's a succulent peach, eh, Harris? All round and juicy and--" she was, she was, and she smelled like sex everywhere, his nose nuzzling out the musk in the folds of flesh he made rubbing himself all over her. Tongue catching the slick sweat as her breasts lolled up and down, back and forth--

There was a hurried rearranging of pillows and bodies. She was laid out before him, half reclining on her cushions like the queen bee she was, waiting to be serviced. Inspired, he tried to move down, wanted to get his face between her legs and try things he'd never tried before, but something was in his way, and he knew what thing it was, kicked at it, but then she grasped him by his cock, and he could do nothing but follow it up to her waiting mouth. It was not the most comfortable position, knees squeezed as close to her sides as he could get them, because she wasn't skinny like--

She's soft everywhere, and bouncy, and she is like a carnival ride. Her mouth is the tunnel of love, baby, and behind him, somewhere very far away he can hear the soft, rapid lapping of a tongue on a clit, the slurping and licking and sticky fingered sliding in and out, fingers that brush the soles of his feet and grasp his ankles and he doesn't even know how this is working. He can't find a purchase for his hands, he'll fall over, he'll fall out of that sucking mouth. So he grabs her head, fisted into her hair as her mouth works him in and out faster and faster, then unbearably slow. She can't help it, must pause, experience the sensations she's being given in the down below. And he knows who's giving them to her, but he doesn't want to think about him, because she's bucking, bucking like a beautiful beast that won't be ridden, and then her mouth again and his eyes fly open, watch her cheeks go concave from the suction as she pulls on him and pulls on his - and he's watching her wet wet mouth, and his cock pops out and she brings her breasts together around it and squeezes it between, rubbing his saliva slick knob in the channel she's made, then pulls it into her mouth again and oh god, oh fuck, this is, this is--

He could hear Spike's fingers moving in and out really fast, and her eyes were squeezed shut and she screamed around his cock. Then suddenly, Spike's face, and Spike's hands hard on the back of his head, turning it toward a leering mouth, face to face and mouth to mouth and the mouth tastes like lipstick. He gasped, and an opportunistic tongue darted in, and the tongue tasted like woman.

Exploding. Like all his molecules have burst apart and flown out in all directions, an orgasm of Death Star proportions, and he hears his own keening and his cock keeps jerking in her mouth as she gags and swallows, swallows, swallows. His legs begin to shake uncontrollably and he starts to collapse over her but is pulled away by strong hands that reek of her cunt--

They rolled away from her, collided on the mattress and rolled again, ended up side by side, squished too close, bony hip to hip, and he hated Spike more than ever at that moment, lying next to him, too spent to do anything but pant.

"Oh, yeah," Nicolette exclaimed in a voice breathless with glee. "That was wicked fun."

Spike's body was vibrating, edgy and taut as a wire. "Yeah, well, now it's my bloody turn."

"You had your turn. More boys kissing first."

"Look, told you I don't fancy him."

"Liar."

"Fancy you again and right now." He made a sudden grab for her and before a protest could be uttered, Spike was dragging her over Xander's stunned body.

He scooted away from them and sat up, knees drawn to his chin. He thought he ought to be feeling something besides sated and bewildered. Where was the much ballyhooed ick factor? Where was the crippling shame? The sight of Nicolette struggling to rise to her hands and knees over Spike's lap made all thoughts of shame fly out the window. He didn't even see Spike raise his hand until it fell upon the bobbing globes of her behind. He jumped at the sound. She squealed and wiggled more, but her size and the position didn't allow for a quick and agile escape. And Spike was stronger than he looked.

"Get up here and pleasure me, woman."

"As if! We had an agreement. You haven't met your end of the bargain."

Bargain? What bargain?

He swatted her again and she grunted, "I have a lot of padding there. Nerve endings buried under layers of--ow! Hey. Hey!"

A strange churning erupted in Xander's belly, fluttering close to nausea -- arousal, fear, panic. Spike was merrily spanking a great big bottom and there seemed to be no corresponding reaction of pain in his head. Oh God.

Later he'd tell himself that what he did next was for her safety, because she didn't know that a dangerous killer was turning her bottom that lovely shade of fiery red. Every other reason would be carefully repressed in the coming weeks, months and years.

He dived forward and collided with Spike's laughing mouth.

It shut him up, sure. The dumb shock he felt coming off the son of bitch was worth the price of admission. But then Spike responded, and it was like Xander had slapped him with a glove and called for pistols at dawn. Spit swapping rapidly escalated into a form of heavy petting that looked a lot like wrestling -- junior high school version, not WWF Smackdown. Not as well-rehearsed and flashy, more along the lines of a - You're going down, man! No, you're going down! - ineffectual struggle to pin the other to the mat. The girl they were trying to impress all but forgotten in a desperate, frustrating bid for domination. In fact, Nicolette had been pushed off the mattress altogether. Finally, when Xander had him in a headlock and was experiencing the first flush of victory, Spike got well and truly pissed off, which triggered his natural demon urge to inflict grievous bodily harm with corresponding fang action. And then, of course, the screaming.

"What did you do to him?" Nicolette cried. Spike pitched back and forth, holding his head and yowling. His face was now the human-looking one, and he was doing a convincing impersonation of someone in agony.

"Nothing." Xander said, more defensively than he intended. He'd backed off, still breathing heavy as she scrambled over the mattress making all kinds of poor baby noises at the suffering vampire.

She drew Spike into her arms and began to stroke his head where it lay smugly nestled in her bosom. After a few moments she said, "Better? Does it still hurt?"

One hand to his head, sort of a girl-on-a-fainting-couch pose, he nodded.

"Tell me where it hurts, baby."

He hesitated for dramatic effect then pointed to his crotch.

"Want me to kiss and make it better?"

Spike was out of his jeans in under a second. Xander threw himself back on the bed with a groan. Nicolette reached across him to grab one of the foil packets on the table.

"Here now. What's that for?"

"Blowjob. Condom."

Xander turned his head slowly, grinned at how ridiculous an insulted expression looked on a naked guy with a hard-on.

"Monkey boy didn't have to wear one when you did him."

She snorted. "Oh, please. What am I stupid? I know you're not safe, let me count the ways. He's practically a virgin. No offense, sweetie."

"I'm not a virgin! Not even close. I have a girlfriend."

"What are you doing here then?"

"I don't know. Oh god."

"Well, it's not fair. You should make some sort of concession on account of him hurting me."

"You tried to bite me, you asshole!"

"Yeah? Well, you were trying to twist my fucking head off!"

"I was trying to get on top!" There. He'd actually said it. Oh God. He was. Trying to get on top.

"I am NOT a bottom," Spike growled.

"There there, pumpkin," Nicolette cooed. "Of course you're not." And like a big overindulged house cat, he settled into her lap and accepted the strokes as his due, the protection of her arms as his sovereign right, all the while glowering ferociously at the wrongly accused and ever suffering mutt at her feet.

"Well, neither am I," Xander said, endeavoring to muster great confidence considering he was only vaguely sure what it meant.

"Oh please," Spike said, "You have bottom written on both cheeks."

"Okay. Let's play nice," Nicolette said. "There's no reason why you can't take turns."

"Don't think you're quite catching the point, love. We hate each other with a bleeding passion."

"That's just sublimation."

Man looked at monster and monster looked at man. "Um. Not really. No."

"Really? For real? Cuz, that kind of puts a damper on my fun." She shoved Spike out of her lap.

"Look, I tried to tell you at the bar--"

"You didn't try very hard."

"Well, wanted to get into your knickers, didn't I?"

"Wait a minute--" Xander began. Bargain, bargain, something about a bargain. "Wait just a doggone minute. What is this? What the hell is going on?"

"Oh, bugger."

A timer bell sounded from the kitchenette. "Wash is done," she announced. She got up, pulled her robe around her and grabbed some change off the top of the television as she went out the door. "Back in a jiff."

Xander looked at Spike. Spike sighed, looked heavenward, then back at Xander. "Told you she had an itch she wanted scratched."

"Yeah, but I thought it was like, an itch of her own, and, you know, we'd be the ones scratching her, not scratching each other!"

"Right, well, I figured we'd snog a bit, you and me, she'd get hot and bothered and forget all about it once I was giving it to her. Didn't think she'd actually - what?"

"You. You are. You. Fuck."

Spike grinned. "Come on. Can't say it wasn't worth it. I mean. Come on!"

"I cheated on my girlfriend!"

"Hey. Now. No. No, see, it's-it's not cheating if there's no penetration."

"Oh right, like Anya's gonna buy the Monica Lewinsky defense."

"Yeah. Even Harm didn't buy that one. But, look here. You needn't go confessing all. No reason she has to know about it."

"I'm not as dumb as Harmony, okay? You're evil. This is just the kind of information an evil person would use to screw me over."

"What? You think I want anyone finding out I couldn't get laid without bringing you along? Not bloody likely, mate. I say we forget it ever happened. If we're lucky, the lovely lady will come back from the laundry, want to give it another go with me. You can kip 'til your trousers are dry and then we're out of here with none the wiser."

"And if she comes back the wiser from the laundry room?"

"We walk and we never speak of it again. Deal?"

"Deal."

The door opened and Nicolette breezed back in, silky robe flapping. "Okay, I have an idea."

They both swiveled their heads, mouths open, tongues hanging out like a couple of big dumb dogs. And it didn't help that they were both aware they were doing it. She went into the kitchenette and set the timer on the microwave. They looked at the microwave, then at each other then back to her. "For the dryer," she explained as if to idiots.

Oh.


Part Deux

"Okay. Okay. Four plus three -- no wait that one's a double letter so, that's four plus two is six, plus two, plus another four is twelve, and triple word score is thirty-six, plus twenty-five for the naughty means sixty one points for me." Spike jabbed his finger at the notebook in front of Xander. "Sixty-one. Write it down."

"Screw that. Fanny is not a sex word."

"Uh...yes. It is."

"It's a cute butt word. Not naughty."

"Rules were I could use English slang."

"Yeah. It's English slang here too. For butt. You don't get the extra points if you can say it on television during the family hour."

"In England they can say pussy on television, 'cos a pussy is a cat. Just like a fanny is a butt."

"Oh," Nicolette said, "that's why those cops in London kept trying not to laugh when I told them I'd been pick-pocketed from my fanny pack. We're gonna give him that one, Xander."

"Fine. Fine. I'm still winning."

"Yes, but you still have to take your shot," she said, and poured the vodka. They clinked glasses in honor of Spike's sixty-one point fanny.

He didn't mind the vodka. He was winning. The Scrabble-tile gods were smiling down upon him this night. Because, face it, ordinarily Xander was crap at Scrabble. Even with Buffy, who was not good at all, he'd lost. And playing with Willow was an exercise in futility for anyone. She had all the two and three letter words memorized. She'd been on the fast track to becoming the state Spelling Bee champion in fourth grade until an unfortunate pants-wetting incident had cut short her promising career. Still, she kicked his ass every single time. And she had a stick up her butt when it came to the rules. For instance, Willow would never have allowed the word precum to be used. Even if she believed it was a real word she would have argued that it was a hyphenated word and therefore not allowed. Whereas, Spike and Nicolette didn't challenge it. Predictably, Spike had used the "p" to spell prick.

The board was filling up with sex words -- including the word "sex" which didn't earn the additional twenty-five points for naughty, but was nevertheless, thematically pleasing. Plus, they'd decided to allow both British and American spellings so as to utilize more vowels. He doubted that either of his best female pals would know half the words on the board right now.

Nicolette spelled meld off of the blank tile m in Spike's second - count 'em - use of the word quim. Yeah, Xander thought as he downed the required shot of vodka, that obsessive interest in Hustler is paying off at last.

As the game went on, he found himself pleased, in a blurry-eyed fashion, with pattern the words made together - words that grew out of one another in a strangely organic fashion. Spike's two quims had yielded meld and mood, with gay and anus inextricably linking them all. In the wide open spaces between pussy and fanny, reamer and jiz, were the jarring realities of settle and lies. Smegma and axle and sex formed a trinity that seemed entirely coincidental, yet holy and mystical, like an image of Jesus in a tortilla.

He was now very drunk. And something else. In love. Yes, he was in love with Scrabble. With the perfect, smooth little tiles and the way Nicolette's breasts lolled about like courtesans on velvet couches. In love with Spike's bare feet, with the blue veins and the soft bristle of hairs on each toe and ---

"Hey," he said as he slid down and down, eye meeting hairy toe. "Is there love in this vodka?"



"Your feet taste weird."

"You could stop licking them."

"I can't. I love them."

"Okay." Spike shifted his right foot a little so Xander could have better access. "Beard stubble tickles though." Xander felt a sudden rush of love, the kind of rush you got from Jolt Cola or Red Bull or three Mountain Dews, only this was softer, more diffuse, like a big cottony moist cloud of love oozing from his pores to blanket the world in ethereal fluff. Yes. The breadth of his love covered the entire world, demon-world included because hey, demons were part of his 'hood after all, demons were his boyz, his scaled, slimy and/or undead bruthas, and it was all good, even down to the way he loved Spike's toes and Spike's ankle and the muscles jumping beneath the skin of his thigh. His compadre, his amigo, Spike. He felt the joy too, a flush of pride that Spike, who was a manly man in all ways had acknowledged Xander's own manliness by alluding to his beard stubble which was now rubbing over and around Spike's naked belly button. He did not know when they had become naked. Nor did it seem to matter. Love was all around. And it was good.

"I think we've been drugged," Spike murmured.

"Yeah," Xander sighed serenely before plunging his tongue into the shallow well of the vampire's navel. Vampire. Human. Man. Woman. Words. Just words. And how could a mere word ever hope to encompass the feelings he was feeling. The sense that he was connected to everything alive and - uh, not-so-much alive. And not simply connected. Love emanated from him. He was some kind of love generator. Pure undiluted love. In a bottle. "Nicolette you think?"

"Probably."

"Did she leave? Why would she leave us?"

"Went to get the laundry a bit ago. But I think - I think that's her back again."

"Oh hey, Nicolette."

"Hey Xander. Got your pants. Want 'em?"

"Not right now. I'm licking Spike."

"Ooh - um - I'm just gonna get my camcorder, 'kay?"

That made Xander a little teary eyed. "She loves us so much," he said into Spike's bellybutton.

"Yeah. You could move your mouth a bit lower, pet."

"Really? You wouldn't mind?"

"Nah. Be kinda nice."

"I've never done this before."

"Nothing to it. Every bloke knows how. 'S like that cellular memory thing we was chatting about earlier."

"Oh look! It's poking its head out and saying hello."

"Likes being warm. God, you've a mouth like a sauna on you-"

"I was in a steam bath -" Slurp "-a couple of times-" Slurp "-in high school. It was weird."

"Yeah? Why's that?"

Ah. Getting the hang of it now. "All the other guys were amphibians." Just think of how you'd want it, then do it like that.

"--oh, oh, oh, sweet motherfucking--" Fingers wrapped around the base, commence suction-y goodness.

"Huh?" Nicolette's voice came out of left field. "They were what?"

STOP-

They angled huge pupil-ed gazes in Nicolette's general vicinity. She looked so forlorn sitting there with her device-not-used-for-styling-hair and a camcorder. But it was one of those truths they couldn't share despite the non-gender specific love that filled the room.

"Amphibians."

"You wouldn't understand, pet."

"Kind of a guy thing."

"Right. A guy-" and GO. "GUH-guy. Thing. Christ! Do that. That. Yes. More of ---oh yes thatthatthatthat--"



It wasn't a Big Bang that set the stars in motion, but a blowjob, an infinite, eternal blowjob. Xander was God breathing life into the universe, mouth closed hot and moist around cold matter, forming it, animating it. Oh, eventually there would be a bang, but no hurry. This was a quantum physics kind of blowjob.

Xander sucked and swirled, licked and sucked, luxuriating in the feel of Spike's fingers tangling in his hair, nails scraping at his scalp, pressing into his skull, but without any, you know, actual pressure. This vampire who had once been his hated enemy had surrendered willingly to the risk of teeth - Xander's teeth. Even Spike's erection, which was more than a mouthful, more than a handful, felt velvety smooth against Xander's palate, pliant and cooperative in a way that Spike had never been before. Or perhaps he'd never been offered the chance. Xander pondered this possibility. He could tell just by the feel of Spike in his mouth that the guy was really sensitive. It was as if in his cock lay the true spirit of William the Bloody. It was filled with compassion, and it was this great compassion, finally, that shot to the back of Xander's throat in gagging jets. But even the gagging was kind of zen. He was, after all, in a higher state of awareness here.

Spike pulled him up, up, clutching at him, kissing him all over his face, saying, "oh, oh, oh, you sweet, beautiful boy. God, how I wish I could bite you and turn you and make you my love slave forever and ever!" Which was just Spike's way. He had no frame of reference for what he was feeling, no way to express universal love, being a vampire. It made Xander want to watch movies about the true meaning of Christmas with him. They could share a bowl of popcorn. It would be nice.

After a long moment, or perhaps minutes - jeez, time really was relative - he heard a little whirring sound and a click. A loud gulp and then a shuddering sigh.

Poor Nicolette. "She looks lonely over there."

"Can't have that. C'mere, love. Come join the party you started." One hand fell away from Xander's shoulder and flopped onto the floor, the fingers waggling in an invitation that wouldn't been nearly so compelling without the smile that accompanied it - a sultry grin that made Xander's dick leap up like a spaniel for tasty treat.

Nicolette cocked her head and considered them. Her eyes glittered in the candlelight. Her dimples looked like irony quotes around something too sly to be a smile. For a second, he was jarred out of his total connection-to-everything-that-was-is-and-ever-will-be. She was considering the invitation? Who the hell did she think she was?

Spike did the come-hither thing with his hand again, upped the wattage on the smile. Gave her the look. And crawling to the mattress on hands and knees she came, for who could resist the look if Spike chose to bestow it? Well, besides Buffy. But she had superpowers so it didn't count.

Now there was a soft, round girl body between them, sheen of sweat cooling on her skin, slightly sticky. He reached for a breast and met Spike's hand. He reached between her thighs and collided with a couple of fingers aiming for the same place. Cosmic. It was like they had one mind. Nicolette opened her legs to allow both sets of fingers ample playing room. And there was much swirling in slickness and plunging in of digits. Naughty words were exchanged. Suddenly, Spike grabbed Xander's wrist. His first response was to pull away, but then fingers met mouth and were pulled in. It was erotic to infinity and beyond, Spike sucking Nicolette's tasty juices from Xander's hot little fingers and gallantly pleasuring her clitoris with his other hand. While Spike was multi-tasking, Xander's eyes rolled back in his head and took a good look at his brain. Ooh. Fireworks. Pretty.

The exotic interconnection of flesh to flesh to flesh that followed reminded him of playing Tetris - a highly lubricated three dimensional Tetris with all the t-shaped pieces made out of satin covered foam rubber, shifting and turning and sliding into perfect, tight but slippery slots. Sometimes it felt like they were just rubbing themselves all over each other with no actual sexual business going on. Because, really, this was all about the cosmic oneness of big Love. About wanting to be inside your companions so completely that you became them and they became you. Other times it was just a steady rocking, rolling motion, like lying in the bottom of a boat. But there were also fingers and tongues in places Xander had never before considered. And other things he'd never considered. Nicolette's device was called Stan. Stan was a gentle lover in the right hands. Spike hands were just right. His words were righter still, like listening to champagne fizzing in a glass, tiny bubbles popping next to the ear, all "soft, what light through yonder window"-ish, which brought little sobs from Nicolette and prompted her to lick him from stem to sternum. Xander didn't have any words, just guh, and ohhhh, and mmmm. as Stan worked his magic in a part of Xander no man had been before. And it seemed like they would be occupied with filling the holes and crevices in each other with each other until the end of time.

When the end of time came, they fell asleep listening to Prince the Hits Volume One, hands clasped across Nicolette's body, idly rubbing their knuckles over the piercing in her belly button. Nicolette held a limp dick in each fist, a goddess with her sheaves of wheat.



Awake but with his eyes closed. Lying on his left side. Roof of his mouth spackled and almost dry enough for that first coat of paint.

Eyes opened onto a dim gray. Unfamiliar shadows in an unfamiliar room. A moment's disorientation reminded him of waking up at grandma's during the first week of summer vacation. Then the more alarming disorientation - that he was not a child, and this strange place was not the spare bedroom at Grandma Lucille's. Nor was he in the fold-out bed in his parent's basement. The body pressed up against his wasn't soft and pleasantly squishy in the chest area like Anya's. The arm flung over him was bone white. The hand splayed across his stomach sported chipped black fingernail polish. He shuddered and his skin felt like it was being sanded with rough grade sandpaper - from the inside out. He opened the desert of his mouth - to scream perhaps, but realized his jaw and neck muscles were too stiff and sore to accommodate any sudden screaming action. The how and why of that was duly recognized, shoved away hard, only to come back and hit him in the face like a swinging door. Behind him, Spike twitched then went very still. "oh god," said the vampire in a baby bear voice as he put two and two together about who'd been sleeping in whose bed. Then, "Sodding hell!" He pulled his arm away fast enough to leave a rope burn on Xander's chest. Broke the sound barrier getting off the mattress.

Xander considered simply lying there until said vampire magically disappeared like the Lucky Charms leprechaun. But then he rolled over. Because Spike never magically disappeared when you wanted him to. You had to use reverse psychology. Hi, look at me. I'm always after your pink hearts, green clovers and lily white--

But the sight of wild-eyed, naked Spike, half-crouching, turning this way and that like an actor hoping to be discovered with his stunning performance of "Cop One" busting down the drug dealer's door, brought on a fit of giggles. Xander made note of the edge of hysteria in his voice and giggled again.

Spike spun and stared at him. His naked, vulnerable man parts were dangling, just like any ordinary guy's on the morning side of a bad night. He looked as completely wigged as Xander felt. For a moment he felt something almost like empathy. And then came the mortification. They both looked away, pretending to be looking away because they were looking for something very important on the floor or the ceiling, eyes darting furtively to make sure the other was still looking away, mentally "eek"ing when their eyes caught. Looking away again. The discomfort of that moment? Mastercard Priceless.

Suddenly Spike swept the kitschy figurines off the top of the television, roaring, "You bitch!"

Xander leapt up. Regretted it immediately what with the sudden throbbing headache and need to dodge flying objects. He wasn't about to let Spike see that. "You got a lotta nerve calling me bitch, bitch!"

"The other bitch, you great twat. She's scarpered. Evidence in tow no doubt.

"Evidence? What evi - doh! GOD! Dammit!"



"Fuck. Fuckfuckfuckingfuck." Spike's muttered mantra wasn't the kind of mantra that actually helped locate objects but it seemed to help his concentration as he methodically tore the place apart.

Xander could barely concentrate on getting his feet through the legs of his pants. He found his boxers under the empty bag of Cheetos - after he'd caught his pubic hair in the zipper. His shirt was buttoned wrong and sported the gummy stains he associated with quick early morning jerk-offs. Danger was everywhere, shame implicit; in the minefield of Scrabble tiles, melted candle wax, empty bottles, sticky pink towels, and broken ceramic figurines. Oh, that's where the fork ended up. He could only find one sock. Panic was riding him like a mechanical bull and he just wanted the bitch off his back. He needed air. To drink in huge goblets of sweet, sweet air. He lurched across the room and threw open the drapes over the sliding glass doors, crying, "Oh my God! How late is it?"

Spike yelped, cursed more than was humanly possibly because he didn't need to pause for breath, and smothered the flames on his bare foot (a foot that Xander had licked - licked for Christ's sake!). He stabbed one finger in the direction of the clock on the VCR, then angled it towards the clock radio and, same finger trembling with outrage, arrowed in on the bright green numbers on the microwave. None of the clocks read the same, but the general impression was near or around five. Slept through the day. Like a freaking vampire. Like a freaking vampire who'd partied all freaking night.

"You could help me search, you berk. Was it a camcorder or one of those little digital things?"

"It was a digital camcorder. She had a camcorder. She took pictures with a digital camcorder. She's probably at Kinko's making 8x10 glossies." Spike's eyes narrowed to dangerous slits. He picked up a pile of mail and flipped through it so fast Xander's eyes refused to follow, so he closed them. But they couldn't stay closed as a more horrifying thought occurred. "Oh. My. God. What if she posts them on the internet? What if someone sees them? What if my friends SEE THEM?"

"Your friends surf a lot of gay porn websites, do they?"

"GAY PORN! Oh Jesus. Jesus Christ. Oh, Lord God Almighty!"

"Stop praying! Giving me a headache. I'll get the sodding goods. Even if I have to hire someone to beat it out of her."

"No, you can't! No beating up. She'll - she'll have to be killed. Yes. That's it. We'll have her killed. No. No. Can't have her killed. We'll have to do it ourselves. Better that way. Can't be any weak links, no way to trace it back to us--"

Spike swiveled his head, lizard-like, and stared at new improved evil Xander, obvious respect and yes, even admiration in his eyes.

"Uh. Never mind. No killing. Killing bad. No beating up either. We'll just have to stake the place out."

"Yes. We'll do that. In our special van with all the high tech spy equipment."

"Why do you always have to be so negative? You're a vampire. You do this kind of shit all the time! Stalk your prey. Study it. Find its weak spots."

"That woman has no weak spots! Looks all soft and sweet, yeah, but she's the devil's own marshmallow pie. Put a toe in and suddenly you're up to your eyeballs in deadly goo."

"Soft evil is the worst kind."

"Tricked us, the bloody bitch."

"Drugged us."

"That's right! Drugged us and made us- do - made us feel--"

"-stuff."

"Right. Stuff. That we don't feel."

"She must pay for her treachery!" Okay, a bit over the top. Again. Even Spike seemed to think so.

"Oh, hell. Maybe she's just run up to the 7 Eleven or something."

"So what do we do, wait until she comes back? What if this isn't even her apartment?"

Spike sighed by way of a growl. Held up what was apparently a utility bill. "Nicolette - C for cunt - Cunningham."

"What if she isn't even the real Nicolette? What if she murdered the real Nicolette and set up this lair?"

"In order to do what exactly? Shag a couple of guys and take naughty pictures of it to get her through the lean times?"

"She could be some kind of incubus!"

"Succubus, you moron. Though the way you're near swooning like a girl with the vapors--"

"Oh like you're not. Your hands are shaking!"

"Low blood sugar!"

"Whatever. You probably don't even care. Just another amusing anecdote your demon pals at Willy's."

"Shut up. You don't know anything."

"God. This sucks."

"Yeah. A lot of sucking going on." Spike shuddered. "We were all cuddly. Like bloody Care Bears. Turns my stomach just thinking on it."

"Wait. Wait. The snuggly Care Bear moments? That's what's freaking you out?"

"Well. Yeah."

"Not the sex?"

"What? Hell no. Sex was bloody brilliant. You didn't think so?"

"Uh..." His eyes slid from the vampire's unbearably earnest expression. "Um - we really have to get those pictures back."

"Destroy the camera as well. Possibly dismantle the World Wide Web itself. Right. Right." Spike pulled on his bad-ass mode much the same way he pulled on his t-shirt and buckled his belt. "If you say anything to anyone about this, ever, I'll gut you like a fish and use your entrails to decorate my Christmas tree."

"Right back at ya, there, pal."

"Fine. That's settled." He waved a piece of paper he'd retained from rifling her correspondence. "Pay stub would indicate she works at Tower Records on 5th and Main. So. I'll do all the leg-work, stalking and what have you, meet you outside here tomorrow night for a little breaking and entering at, oh, say, ten-ish?"

"Sounds good to me."

"Bitch is going down. Er, metaphorically speaking."



Xander ended up walking home, which proved to be, in true Sunnydale fashion, only a couple of miles from Nicolette's apartment. He ignored his mother's nagging concerns as to where he'd been all night and most of the day. His dad happened to be in Bakersfield on business so it was a lot easier to say screw you, I pay rent, then fall into bed and sleep for fourteen hours. Not that he felt good about doing it, but his mom was less inclined to knock him upside the head when he was being a shit. She just got that trembly lip thing. He'd deal with that later.

The next night he got lassoed into doing reconnoiter on the military guys. Fortunately it gave him an excuse to carry his backpack with his stake-out stuff inside. But it was nearly ten before he managed to fake an injury convincing enough to make good his escape.

"Ow. Damn. Pulled a groin muscle. Damn."

"What? So no sex tonight?"

Throughout the evening, Buffy and Willow had been running neck and neck in the eye roll category. Willow added a growling snort and a headshake as she turned away in disgust, proving she was still champion in the Why the Hell is Anya Here Anyway competition.

The sex question brought a fresh surge of panic, until he remembered the coup de grace. "But I thought you were---you know, still---you know that girl thing."

"Menstruating? Yes. But I read that having sex during can relieve the unpleasant cramping."

A groan from Buffy. "Can you guys discuss this somewhere not here?"

"I'm really in a lot of pain, An. Lot's and lot's of - ow, oh man, this hurts."

"Ice'll fix it right up."

"Hey, Anya," Willow said in her dangerously chipper voice. "Why don't you go ask Spike? Hungry little vampire, reduced to begging for handouts? Bet he'd be really grateful to share the bounty of your glorious womanhood."

"God! Willow!" Buffy squealed in equal measures horror and amusement. "Gross!"

"What? It's a classic Hell's Angels rite of passage."

At which point Anya got huffy and Xander was off the hook. He limped away until he thought they couldn't see him then ran like hell, tormented by images of Spike indulging in the bounty of glorious womanhood.

He was half an hour late. Spike was nowhere in sight. Or even out of sight. The drapes were closed in Nicolette's apartment, but it looked like the lights were on in there. He settled down next to the dumpster and started his own stakeout, with thermos of coffee and sandwich and binoculars and an internal monologue about the loneliness of the stake-out practically writing itself in his head. So when the cops showed up he was kind of surprised. Apparently somebody had noticed a guy by the dumpster watching the building through binoculars and called them.

"Hey, buddy. What're you trying to get a peek at?"

He didn't try to run or anything. They both had their hands hovering over their weapons. "It's not what it looks like."

"Really, cuz it looks like you're casing the building."

"No. What? NO. I'm not here to rob anyone--" As he said it, he realized that wasn't exactly true. "I mean, I'm just waiting for -" nor could he say a friend "this - guy I know."

"Does he live here?"

"No."

"You know anyone who lives here?"

"A girl. She lives in that apartment."

"Spying on your girlfriend?"

"No. Look, she's kind of this girl who - I met her the other night and she - I think maybe I - shit."

"We're gonna need to see some identification. Why don't you let Officer Pizarek hold the binoculars for you, Mister...Alexander Harris? You know what it looks like to me, Alex? Looks like you might have formed an attachment to a girl that she might not share. You know what we call that? We call it stalking. There's a law against it in the state of California. Were you aware of that?"

"Ye-es. But I'm not stalking her - that's not what I'm - it's not like that-"

"You want to show us what else you've got in the backpack, Alex?"

"Nothing. I mean, just another sandwich and some HoHos and-" oh fuck. "Heh heh. Those? Those are - uh - plant markers. I've been helping my mom in her garden. Planting. Love the planting. It's planting time at the Harris homestead, yup and - oh, that - that's just for - carving the plant markers. So they stick in the ground real deep-"

"We're going to have to ask you to come down to the station, Mr. Harris."



Giles looked tired. And annoyed. Xander could see the hems of his pajamas sticking out from under his trousers. His hair was sticking up. He was wearing slippers without socks. It did not bode well.

"Thanks for coming. Sorry I got you out of bed and everything."

"Just get in the car, Xander."

"I'll pay you back for whatever money you had to put up-"

"There were no charges filed against you. Or were you not paying attention to the nice officer when he returned your plant markers and the very large knife you used to whittle them?"

"I was too busy being relieved that I didn't have to spend the night with Donny and Lloyd."

"Yes. Well, the young woman in question didn't want to press charges. Her boyfriend said there was some rivalry between you?" Boyfriend? She has a boyfriend too? "Still, both of them assured the officers you were harmless. In fact, they suggested you were - I'm quoting here - developmentally disabled."

Spike. He'd been there, in her apartment, the whole goddamned time. Disabled. I'll show him disabled. Son of a bitch.

"Where is Spike, Xander?"

"What? What d'you---? He's, he's - at the house! My house."

"You're sure of that, are you?"

"Waiting for me to bring him some blood. Which, I wasn't able to get. Because, you know, picked up by the police. So I guess he won't be eating anyone - any thing tonight. Again. Just like last night. When he didn't eat, so he'll be tired and worn out - from the not eating." Stupid traitorous son of a bitch.

"Yes. Well, good. Stay on your toes. He may not be able to kill but he's still capable of great - mischief. May I ask why you were spying on this girl? And please tell me it's because you've discovered she's associated, however loosely, with a certain mysterious military operation."

"Uh...kind of." If you count sleeping with a vampire who's been experimented on by said mysterious military operation. And me.

"I'll expect a full account of this tomorrow. Er, not before ten in the morning however."

"Thanks for not forcing me to call my folks."

"You're welcome. And you owe me five dollars for gasoline."



So. Funny story. A guy walks into his house at two o'clock in the morning and there's a vampire in the kitchen drinking coffee--

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

"Alexander Lavelle Harris!"

Spike had actually jumped when Xander yelled, but as soon as Mom asserted her mom-ly authority with the use of his full name, the undead shithead oozed back against the kitchen counter in a loose-limbed, utterly relaxed lean. Quirked a brow. Mouthed "Lavelle" in a way he'd seen a million times before, so no points for originality. Easy to ignore. What could not be ignored was that Spike was here in the kitchen with his mom. Like it was normal for him to be here. With Mom. At two in the morning. Holding a coffee mug that apparently contained coffee.

There was coffee still in the pot. And powdered sugar donuts in a box - the crappy Hostess kind. There was powdered sugar on Spike's t-shirt. Mom was sitting at the kitchen table, a box of Kleenex standing shoulder to shoulder with a half empty bottle of Southern Comfort. Crumpled tissues scattered about her own mug of coffee like corsages the day after prom. She twisted and untwisted the latest tissue in her hands.

Drinking and crying. Damn. What had his dad done now?

"Spike's been nice enough to keep me company. What with you disappearing for days and your father away."

Oh, man. It's about me. "It hasn't been days, Mom."

"Ought not to worry your mum so, Xander. A boy's mother is his dearest friend."

Crushing guilt turned immediately into seething hostility. "And you know this how?"

"I had a mother," Spike said, defensively, chin thrust out. Then he sighed, hung his head. "Once."

His own mother's face went all mushy sympathetic and she emitted a little "oh" blinking back fresh tears.

"Oh for Christ's sake," Xander muttered. "Spike. Why are you here? Talking to my mother?"

"Ah. Yes. Well, 's like this, right? I stopped by with that camcorder you wanted to borrow and found your mum all alone, frantic over your whereabouts."

"Oh. The camcorder. Great. Uh - what about those movies you were going to download for me?"

"Down. Load--? Oh, right. Got 'em."

"Hand 'em over."

"I'm not liking your attitude lately, mister."

"I know, Mom, I'm sorry. Look, I'm home now. Maybe you should go to bed. We can talk about this tomorrow."

"Spike's been very sweet. So polite." She gave the vampire a wobbly smile. "Are all English people so polite?"

Spike shrugged in a way that suggested humility and superiority at the same time. "Spare the rod, spoil the child."

Xander's teeth were in danger of being ground into powder.

"Well, you're very polite." She turned to her son. "Not like that girlfriend of yours. Or those other friends."

"Who among my many friends is impolite to you, Mom? You've known Willow since she was five. She brings you flowers on your birthday."

"I think she's into some questionable things now. At college. College offers a lot of temptations to a girl like Willow. All that freedom. And Buffy Summers. I'm sure she's the one who got you into all this."

Oh shit. He's told her we're all on crack or something. "All this what?"

"That vampire game."

He felt his face turn into a big question mark followed by an exclamation point.

"I thought you outgrew that Dungeons and Dragons nonsense a long time ago. And that other one--"

"Magic, the Gathering," Spike helpfully filled in. Xander shot him a look.

"And now you're obsessed with this vampire card game. The way you talked to me yesterday when you got home - well, I never thought I'd say this, but I think your father's right. You need to stop living in a fantasy world."

"Okay, Mom. Can do. You really should go to bed. Uh. Spike's gonna crash here. That okay?"

"Oh. Okay. Sure honey. I do feel safer knowing you boys are around."

"Good. Cling tight to that illusion."

"What's that, honey?"

"Nothing. Night Mom." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Night sweetie."

"Aw," Spike said. Xander waited for the sound of a door closing off the hall then grabbed him by the elbow to pull him towards the basement door.

"Leave off, Harris. You're gonna make me spill my coffee!"

"Like you drink coffee," he hissed.

"Got whiskey in it." He gulped it down quickly then turned - to rinse the fucking mug! "Your mum sure likes her toddies, don't she?"

"Just what's that supposed to mean?" Knew what he meant, but even so.

"Good looking woman like that ought not to drink alone 's what I was thinking."

"My mother is not good-looking - I mean, she is, maybe, but not to you. Or to me. Just - don't be thinking about my mother, you vampire perv." He opened the basement door and shoved. Spike failed to tumble down the stairs in a gratifying manner. Or at all. Bastard.

"Case of pot calling the kettle pervert, seems to me-" Tapped a cigarette out of a pack. "Don't know what you're getting all pissy about-" Strolled toward the washing machine. "I'm not the one run off and left me to handle all the details-" Nudged a lumpy duffle bag on the floor with a scuffed boot toe. "Lucky I came back here at all. Could get me a nice bit of dosh for this stuff."

"I didn't run off, as you damn well know."

Lighter flared against the tip of the cigarette. "I was there at nine sharp just like we agreed."

Xander slapped it out of his hand. "No smoking! And you said ten, idiot!"

"Waited 'til ten and you didn't show! Narrow window of opportunity, Harris. Kinda had to take it." He picked the cigarette off the floor and brushed the dust off. It was still burning so he put it between his lips and grinned through the smoke. "Made good work of it though. In and out in under fifteen minutes."

"Wow. Only fifteen minutes. I'm surprised, considering what a stud you were the other night."

"I'm thinking that's what passes for sarcasm round these parts. So then, what bug's crawled up your arse this time?"

"I know you were in her apartment when the police showed up. Hell, you probably handed her the phone to make the call. Ooh er, officer come quick, there's a nasty boy in the parking lot spying on me girlfriend."

"Is that supposed to be the way I talk? Because you're doing Ringo Starr. And again - the hell?"

"The boyfriend that talked to the police? Told 'em I was a harmless retarded boy spying on her because I thought of you as rival for her affections and - oh shit - you don't have a clue what I'm talking about do you?"

"We've been had."

"In oh so many ways."

Spike flicked his cigarette across the room heedless of piles of laundry and sofa cushions that could catch fire, suddenly all business. He plonked the duffle bag onto the washing machine and began pulling out the booty.

Camcorder? Check. Pile of disks? Check. Laptop? Uh. Oh.

DVD player! Oh shit.

"Noticed you didn't have one. And look. The Godfather boxed set!"

Suddenly Xander had a clear, stunning vision of himself in the future, in this very basement, sitting in that very chair, sporting the requisite mullet hairdo and an ACDC t-shirt stretched over a beer gut, enjoying an evening of WWWF Smackdown, with eau de spilled bongwater perfuming the air, surrounded by empty beer cans, unaware, as he waited for Donny and Lloyd to deliver the stolen goods from their latest robbery, that one of them had cut a deal with the Feds and would be wearing a wire.

He took a deep breath and began the difficult ascent up a slippery slope. "No."

"But it's got special features!"

"No. We check the disks that might have us on them. Destroy them. That's it. Then we - no I - will take this stuff back tomorrow."



An hour later.

"Can I watch The Godfather now?"

"NO! Fuck. What's the point of having a DVD player if you can't play stuff you get off your camcorder? I mean that's one of the selling features of this technology. Make pictures. Watch them."

"Use the laptop."

"I can't get it to boot up."

"I'll boot it up. Piece of shit-"

"Quit it! We have to take this stuff back!"

"Sure. Right. Do that tomorrow. Don't worry. You should get some sleep now. I'll just watch The Godfather very quietly-"

"Spike. If you mention The Godfather one more time so help me GOD, I'm going to kill you. Long. And hard." Gulp. "I mean-"

A low rumble of a laugh. Miles away, whisper close. "Mmmm. Gonna make it hurt, are you? Make it last?"

The big thing stuck in his throat would not go down and he made entirely too much noise trying to swallow it. His voice came out a clotted whisper, "You need to shut up now."

"You don't want me to shut up. You wanna make me scream. I bet you could too." The voice was all over him now, in his hair, under his shirt, stroking his thigh. He could hear the blood rushing around inside him, running from Spike's voice. "Make it hurt in all the best ways."

He hadn't blinked, but suddenly the distance between them was non-existent. "Deep dark waters run through you, don't they? Sensed it. I could show you things. Things didn't get around to showing the other night."

Fear. Yeah. And something else. Something worse. Curiosity. What things?

"Back off, Spike."

"You sure that's what you want?"

"Spike. Back off. I mean it."

"Or what?"

"I won't let you watch The Godfather."

Spike was in the chair before he'd finished saying the God in Godfather, legs bouncing like a kid with ADD.

"You did that on purpose!"

"Maybe. Either way, get what I want."

"Asshole." He kicked off his shoes and crawled into bed with his clothes on.

Just as he was drifting off to the sounds of Sonny being whacked at the tollbooth, he heard, "Harris?"

"Yeah."

"Time doesn't heal wounds."

"Right. Established that."

"Has a tendency to make you forget the good stuff though. Like - these films are brilliant, right? But it's only when I watch 'em again I remember all the reasons they're brilliant."

Xander rolled over, squinting against the strobing light coming off the television screen. "So what are you saying? It's okay if Nicolette keeps her precious memories of our happy, fucked-up-on-drugs time together, to watch over and over at her leisure? That you're okay with that? Is that what you're saying?"

"I'm saying...look, you had a good time, didn't you?"

Xander considered this. His legs couldn't do the knee-jerk of denial in his current state of exhaustion, so it was easier to be rational. Did he have a good time? Well, it seemed like some it was pretty incredible, except... "Guh. Hell if I know. I can barely remember the ride in her car now. Yeah. Okay, I get it. Not a memory that's gonna stick with me. But I'm warning you, if you bring it up privately, or in mixed company, if you even allude to it for the sake of your own amusement, I'll tell everybody that you said you loved me."

"I never said that!"

"How do you know?"

"Ah. Yes. Right. We've reached an understanding then. Now shut yer gob. Watching Scorcese here."



Alexander? Honey? Wake up.

"Huh?" His mother's face bending over him. Was it a school day? No. No school. Not any more. Because, hey, no school building. "Yeah, I'm awake. What?"

"There's a call for you. Upstairs."

"Can you take a message?"

"Do I look like your secretary?" The words lacked impact due to her whispering. He couldn't figure out why she was whispering. And then it hit him. Spike was still asleep. She was being all solicitous because a widdle precious vampire was sleeping in her basement.

He lifted his head. Yup, there he was. In the chair, knees drawn up, hands clasped beneath one cheek. Features softened to, well, if not innocence, at least blessed silence for once. And obviously his mother was all over that. Didn't notice the asshole wasn't breathing. He let his head drop back onto the pillow. Scrubbed a fist over his eyelids. "Please, Mom. Can't you take a message? I'm begging you."

"No, I can't. She said it was really important."

Oh crap. "Was it Buffy?"

"Mmm...Nicolette something. I didn't quite--"

He shot out of the bed.

"If you're getting up you should let Spike have the bed."

"He's fine where he is." Up the stairs. Picked up the receiver from the kitchen counter. "Hello?"

"Xander. How's it going?"

"Uh. Fine?"

"I want that stuff back."

"Yeah, hey, sorry about that. Spike's kind of-"

"A thief?"

"Among other things. Look-"

"I'm willing to do an exchange."

"Uh huh."

"I'll give you the vids I made. You guys can do whatever you want with them. But I really need that stuff back."

"Not yours, is it?"

"Um. No. It belongs to this guy I know. He's kind of wigging about it. Especially The Godfather boxed set. Can you guys meet me at the Bronze around ten tonight?"

"Are you planning on slipping Rohypnol into our drinks?"

"Never accept drinks from strangers, Xander. Any girl knows that."

"You really are evil."

"No I'm not. I'm just drawn that way." He could practically hear the dimples of her smile burrowing into her cheeks. "Ta ta."



There was no band on Mondays. Monday was karaoke night. He never went to the Bronze on Mondays if he could help it. Or Tuesdays, for that matter, but that was because of the open mike poetry situation, not because of the multitudes of people who couldn't sing but insisted on doing it anyway. And there she was in the midst of it all. Nicolette. Sitting at a table too close to the stage. Dressed in a tight red top. The breasts were like beacons - yoo hoo, boys, over here. He tapped Spike on the arm and jerked his chin in her direction. They threaded their way between the tables, both twitching and wincing as a skinny blonde attempted to reach high notes that were best left to Mariah Carey, and even then should never be performed in the presence of fine crystal or small animals.

Xander sat down across from her. Spike pulled up a chair, which led to a brief scuffle with the guy he pulled it out from under. But when Spike flashed something from inside his coat the guy went away. This knack for intimidation without the ability to actually follow through on any threat was remarkable. To someone. Probably. Xander could give a rat's ass, actually.

"So," he yelled, leaning in close to her, but not too close. "You got the stuff?" It sounded like really bad dialogue from a really bad movie and he could feel himself flush in embarrassment. Naturally Spike punctuated this embarrassment with an eye roll. Unscrewed the cap to a pint of Jack Daniels. A waitress chose that moment to appear, a girl with chunks of short hair like a collection of horns on her head, and a smooth tanned belly showing above her low-slung apron--

"Yo. Babe-alicious. Told you before you can't have that in here."

"Oh right." He upended the bottle and drank the entire thing in one ha-ha-don't-need-to-breathe gulp. "See. 'S like it never existed."

"You know, Spike," she said, scooping up the bottle and slipping it into her apron pocket, "one of these days, that tight little ass of yours is going to start sagging and you won't be able to get away with this shit anymore."

"Not in your lifetime, love."

"What'll you guys have?"

"Nothing for me. Thanks." Xander said, feeling guilty about it.

Spike grinned. "I'm good for now."

"You better tip me."

"Don't I always?"

"With your own money this time."

Xander watched the exchange, and the end of it, which involved eyebrow waggling and eyelash batting. The Mariah Carey girl ended her song to whooping and generous applause from her friends. Xander pressed the advantage of relative silence. "Look, Nicolette." She glanced at him, all the appearance of polite attention while her eyes darted to the stage. "Can we just take care of this? I kind of have things to do-"

"And now for the one we've all been waiting for," the DJ announced in his rockin' radio voice. "The soulful song stylings of our own Nicolette Cunningham!"

She gave his forearm a squeeze. "Sorry. I'm up!" Then she was. Up. On the stage. Removing the microphone from the stand like a pro. The first beats of her chosen song started and the crowd went wild. Next to him, Spike said, "Oh sweet motherfucking god." He grabbed Xander's wrist, eyes bouncing in panic between Xander and the big girl in tight red on the stage. "It's Aretha. We're doomed!"

"No. We can do this. Be strong! You're an evil soulless thing. Soul music cannot affect you."

"It's not just Soul! It's fuck-me Soul!"

"'Rock steady baby, that's what I fee-eel now. Let's call this song exactly what it is.'"

Damn. Spike was right. It was Fuck-me Soul. She wasn't doing Aretha. She was doing Nicolette. The Nicolette with whom they were intimately acquainted

"'Just move your hips with a feeling from side to side. Set yourself down in your car and take a ride. And while your movin' rock steady, rock steady baby-'"

They sat like dogs fresh out of obedience training school, unable to shake to the beat like the rest of the audience, yet unable to keep their tails from wagging or their tongues from hanging out. Because they knew what those big bouncing tits felt like, what those undulating hips were capable of, how deceptively jelly-like was the flesh of her thighs, thighs that could squeeze, render ordinary men and vampires into whimpering shells of their former selves, posing for pictures, dicks in hand.

"'Let's call this song exactly what it is. What it is, what it is, what it is, yeah. It's a funky and low down feeling. Move the hips from left to right. What it is, I might be doing, this funky dance all night-'"

"I say we wait outside."

"Good idea." They scrambled for the back exit.

In the alley, Spike bent over, hands on his knees like he was trying to force the blood back into his brain. Maybe it was that simple for a vampire, but for mere human Xander the process was slower and more painful. Spike straightened and began patting his pockets. It suddenly struck Xander as odd, that a vampire could seem so normal as to be addicted to cigarettes. Or addicted to the ritual involved in the habit. Spike's normalness was a kind of thrall unto itself.

It sucked you into his gravitational pull, until you were standing much too close and were in danger of forgetting that he was bad for reasons other than the fact that he stole DVD players and smoked cigarettes. Now, Angel - Angel had always seemed totally alien even when making an effort to be normal. Angel was otherworldly, superior, aloof. His hatred of Angel was all about fighting the sense that this tall brooding guy was actually better than him, and not just because he was older and smarter and really buff. Even when Angel referred to himself as "cursed" and "an abomination" there was this subtext: Angel, the most special cursed abomination that ever walked the Earth. Or maybe that was just the way Buffy looked at him.

Spike elicited the opposite response in her. He was the lowest of the low. Belly-crawling low. Spike was the kind of evil that crawled out from under rocks and only hissed after he'd bitten. So this sudden awareness of Spike's normal-ness, frantically searching for his goddamned cigarettes, lighting one up, saying "ah" like the nicotine was doing its job on his brain chemistry when, hello? No chemicals moving about in there. All these obnoxious but completely normal human behaviors sent a fission of irritation through Xander that started in his toes and rushed up his spine right out the top of his head.

"I fucking hate you!"

"Feelings mutual. So what?"

"I hate that you got me into this. I hate that I'm stuck out here with you while you blow smoke in my face-"

"Could be blowing it up your arse."

"--I hate your stupid hair and the way you get away with shit that nobody else can. I hate that you picked out the only girl in a bar that has a camcorder, a stockpile of illegal substances, and a kink for two guys getting it on. I hate that we--" He broke off, not wanting to say the words that would make it a really real reality.

"Got it on?"

"When this over I don't ever want to see you again!"

"You breaking up with me, lover?"

And oh, that smug, mocking look had to be eradicated. Terminated with extreme prejudice. His fist came up. Blind rage was not just an expression anymore. He knew because there was only Spike's face, his fist and everything else did not exist. He felt something crackle, possibly the bones in his hand, but there was a bright gush of blood and it was good so he drew back and belted him again. And again.

He probably only got two good punches in before Spike grabbed his arms and threw him into the wall. The wall was solid, comforting, a product of good old fashioned human industry. He let himself slide down it. Sat listlessly, listening to the howls and anguished sobbing for what seemed like forever, without really connecting the sounds with the creature on its hands and knees some few feet away.

"You're kind of a bully aren't you?"

Xander looked up. Nicolette came walking, her fluttery skirt fluttering, shiny red boots scattering gravel. It took him a moment to realize she'd been talking about him. He ran a shaky hand through his hair, pulled it away when he realized it was bloody. "I'm not. Usually. Tired of people messin' with my head." He glanced at Spike, who had both feet beneath him again, face turned away from them, a hot, angry muscle dancing along his jaw as he swiped the blood from his mouth and nose. Guess he was tired of it too. Xander swung his gaze back around to Nicolette. Stared coldly. Waited.

She looked down, turning a CD case over and over in her hands. For just a second it seemed like she might be feeling contrite, or maybe even sorry. But then, "You should be nicer. You guys are so hot together."

Spike growled. And not in a sexy way. In a way that made wise men pee their pants and then flee in terror. Her clever boots shuffled back a little. Xander felt his lips twitch.

"Yeah. We sizzle," he said. He jerked his head at what she held. "Is that it?"

"Yes."

"I suppose you made copies."

"No."

Somewhere over his left shoulder, Spike snorted eloquently and lit another cigarette.

"I didn't! I watched it a couple of times. Or five. Honestly. No copies. It's all yours. Do what you want with it." Xander got up to reach for it. She snatched it back. "After you load all that stuff you stole into my car."

When the last of the goods had been vented from the trunk of Spike's DeSoto into the open hatch of her Honda, and hatch and trunk were slammed shut, Nicolette tossed Xander the disk. She leaned her ample bootie against the car, grinning full-on dimple action. Butterfly clips bobbed in her glossy hair. Bountiful tits tried to break over the retaining wall of her red velvet bustier. She crossed one shiny red boot over the other. "Well, been nice working with you boys. Maybe we can do it again sometime."

They both went stone still for a moment. And it wasn't like the stillness had anything to do with considering her offer. Necessarily. More like they were mentally inserting steel rods into the place where their spines used to be. Before she smiled in that particular way.

"Well, see," Xander began, pleased by the firm but carefree tone of his voice, "there's a whole hell freezing over thing that has to happen first."

"I understand. But you really ought to watch it before you destroy it. Because, you guys may sizzle, but the three us together? Volcano hot. I'm talking lava, rain of fire, magma flows. Hot hot." She sighed dreamily then gave a little shimmy, riveting two sets of eyes to her chest. "So. I guess this is it then." She pushed herself from the car, walked around, got inside and drove off.

They stood there for a minute, blinking stupidly as the car rounded a corner until the taillights faded and it was okay to breathe again. Xander had to, of course. Unlike the vampire who did it merely for effect He gazed resignedly at the CD in his hand. "Shit. I guess we'll have to watch it just to make sure."

"Yeah. Could do that."

"I mean, we don't know that this is even --you know."

"Do you want to watch it?"

"Do you?"

"Well, say we do. Watch it. An' it's just a lot of snaps of her sweet sixteen party or such. Then we have to go through all this again. Staking out her place, nicking her stuff--"

"Wasn't even hers."

"--nicking stuff she nicked from someone else. Back to square one. Seems a waste of time to me. Especially when we could be watching - " He pulled a fat book shaped something from inside his coat and presented it with a flourish of triumph. " - this!"

The Godfather. Boxed set. "Fuck yeah! You kept it!" Xander snatched at it greedily. "Um. Bad evil monster. Got a line on a DVD player?"

"I could steal one again, but Blockbuster rents 'em."

"Need a credit card for that."

"Give us a mo' I'll get us one," Spike said, looking around for likely prospects.

"Nah," Xander said. "I mean NO. Absolutely not. I'll... borrow... my mom's. Anyway, one of the guys who works there is a friend of mine."

That was that. All settled. There was only one thing left to do. Xander opened the CD case and dropped the disk on the ground. He stepped down hard and twisted until it cracked. Spike did the same thing only his boot was heavier and the crunching sound more satisfying.

They went to Blockbuster and never spoke of certain things again.

Because, though memory might indeed be cellular, scored into the flesh, eyes, minds and hearts of every living creature, in the land of Sunnydale, denial was king of all it surveyed.

The End

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