Xander was bouncing down the basement stairs when, seeing Spike ensconced on the couch, he came to a sudden stop. Finishing his descent at a more subdued pace, he asked, "Shouldn't you be out, oh, I don't know, stealing candy from children? Oh, wait, fangless now. You can't."

Spike, sitting with his legs stretched out onto the coffee table, leaned over, reached into a green and red box, and pulled out a peppermint stick. "Got candy."

"Hey," Xander said, flopping down next to Spike. "Where'd the candy come from?" He popped one into his mouth, took a lick, and then pulled it out again. Waving the peppermint stick around, he added, "Nowhere near Christmas."

"Found 'em upstairs."

"Upstairs?" Xander bolted upright and held the candy away. "Do you know how many decades these have been sitting up there?"

Spike took the candy out of his mouth, looked at it carefully, took a lick, and replied, "Tastes all right."

Xander glared at Spike warily for a moment, shrugged, popped the stick back into his mouth, and started sucking.

The volume on the tv dropped as the commercial ended. Xander moaned when he saw what it was: Blair, with some kind of a monkey, and Jim standing next to a car. "Come on, tell me we're not watching The Sentinel again. You do know how over the top this show is, right? Do you remember Jim hanging from that copter?"

"I like it. Nice and violent even if there isn't enough blood."

Spike reached over the edge of the couch and brought a bottle back around. As he took a swig, Xander asked, "You're mixing candy and booze?" Laying a hand across his tummy, Xander added, "I think I'm going to be sick."

Spike looked at the bottle in one hand and candy in the other. "Peppermint schnapps. Peppermint candy. Works."

"Bleah," Xander said, making a face. "What's with the big minty kick, anyway?"

Spike shifted a bit, getting more comfortable, and crossed one leg over the other. "Make me all nostalgic, didn't it?" He sat up a bit, becoming more energetic as he got caught up in his memories. "There was this hobo who'd had so much," he shook the bottle towards Xander, "that his blood actually tasted of peppermint. He would have OD'd on the stuff, if I hadn't drained him first, that is. Made it a bit of a boring kill, at least until the booze kicked in. Man, I was buzzing afterwards. High as a kite." Leaning back, he gazed off with a smile.

"Eww. TMI," Xander complained.

Spike glanced over at Xander and then, with a wicked smirk, grabbed the box of candy and tossed it over. "Here, have some more peppermint, pet."

"Thanks but I'm not done with... Hey! You want to drink my blood."

Spike looked at Xander like he was crazed. "Well, yeah. Vamp here."

"Well, you just keep your fangs to yourself," Xander muttered sinking back against the far edge of the couch. He'd taken another lick of the candy when, catching Spike leering at him, he tossed the peppermint stick onto the table.

"Sad, your lack of faith in American tech. Sure, I want to bite you but it's not like I can."

"So you say."

Spike rolled his eyes. "If I haven't bitten you yet... How long's it been since you've tied me up at night?"

"I'm thinking maybe I should start that little tradition back up again."

Xander tried to jerk back, further into the couch, as Spike leaped onto him. Straddling his legs on either side of Xander's, Spike leaned forward until his mouth was at Xander's neck. "Or maybe you were right."

"Right?" Xander babbled. "No, I'm never right, just ask anybody. "Um, right about what, exactly?"

"Maybe I've been lying about the chip all this time. Maybe I only starved myself to lead you all on." Lowering his voice, he grazed dull teeth against Xander's throat. "Or perhaps I've finally gotten rid of the damned thing."

Xander bucked against him. "Get off."

Spike pulled back and laughed in amusement. "That all you've got? You really are a pathetic git, aren't you?"

"Pathetic?" Xander's eyes narrowed. He slammed his head into Spike's face.

"Ow," Xander complained, gingerly feeling the sore spot. Looking down on Spike, who was writhing on the floor and holding his head in boht hands, Xander said, "Hey, you didn't lose the chip."

Rubbing his head as he got up off the floor, Spike grabbed the bottle and sat down at the far end of the couch. "Could be I'm still chipped." He took another swig of the peppermint schnapps, hooked his arm around the edge of the couch, and leaned towards Xander. "Could be I'm just toying with you."

Xander stood up. "That's it," he said, nodding his head towards the door. "Get out."

Spike leaned back and looked up with a smile. "Topping looks good on you, pet."

"Now."

"You're kidding, right?" His smile wasn't quite as wide as it'd been a moment ago.

"I'm serious, Spike."

Spike stood, facing Xander. "You know, now that I've been invited, I can always get back in. Not like kicking me out into the cold, cruel night's going to do you any good if I don't have the chip."

Xander pointed towards the door.

Spike grabbed the booze but, instead of leaving, headed for the kitchen where he picked something up off of the counter. He held his lighter up for Xander to see before climbing up the stairs.

Xander, tossing the box of candy back onto the table, sat down at the far edge of the couch so he could keep an eye on the door. Could call Willow over to reverse the invite but he'd look like a moron if Spike was still chipped. After thinking about it for a few minutes, Xander pulled a stake and a cross out of a drawer and settled back in front of the tv to watch the end of The Sentinel.

He didn't let himself notice that it wasn't as much fun without Spike.