After the last apocalypse Xander volunteered to patrol with Spike to give Buffy and Willow time to catch up on... well, girly stuff. He considered himself lucky when it occurred to neither girl that Xander might want to just be with Spike. Willow had actually thanked him. "I know Spike can be, well, you know, Spike-like. You really don't have to do this if you don't want to."
"All part of the service, ladies. All I ask is that you have fun and come back all rested, rejuvenated, and other relaxed words starting with the letter 'r'."
"Are you sure you're okay with this?" Buffy asked.
"You do remember the last night out, right? When I was somehow included as one of the 'girls'? Buffy, I love you both dearly, but Willow tried to braid my hair."
"Oh yeah," Willow snorted. "And then, when you'd fallen asleep, we painted your fingernails." At a glare from Xander, she added, "Which was very, very wrong of us."
"Which is why I would be more than happy to patrol with Spike," Xander finished. "I mean, not happy happy," he added nervously, "but happy as not being emasculated by my best friends..." He trailed off at the Buffy glare of death. "Did I say emasc... I mean I love you both dearly and you should have fun and I'vegottago, bye."
Watching the grace-in-motion that was Spike taking out a half-dozen demons was worth any amount of Buffy glare, but when Spike started rambling on about rewards – and didn't that bring up interesting thoughts, the kind he really, really didn't need to be thinking around the vampire – Xander started thinking that maybe, just maybe, he should pay less attention to Spike's ass and more to his words.
"I mean it," Spike continued on. "The Slayer, whose sacred duty this is, gets a night off while I'm out killing her demons. Yeah, I think I do deserve a reward."
"Didn't you say violence was its own reward?" Spike stopped and turned to stare at Xander. Oh, shit. Undivided attention was never of the good. "What?"
Spike pulled a cigarette out of nowhere and made a production out of it before replying. "You always know what I've been saying; the chickies never do. Wondering why."
Stay calm. Stay calm. "Nah, I'm pretty sure we all caught that violence is its own reward comment. Buffy was on the warpath, convinced that Dawn had overheard it."
"Hmph." Spike turned and started walking again. Thank God. "What if I did want something more?"
"I thought Giles paid you. Actually, I'm sure he pays you because he was complaining just the other night, something about you being at a bar when you should have been out killing."
Spike turned so fast his coat swirled around to catch up. "Hey, I was working that night, gathering intel and suchnot."
"Um, yeah, of course."
As they continued on their way, Spike added, "It's not about the money. A reward is a recognition for going above and beyond, like tonight, out patrolling with dork-boy while the Slayer takes a rest."
Dork-boy. Of course. "What the hell do you want, a parade?"
"Course not. That ticker tape glittery stuff would spoil my look." He turned to face Xander, walking backward to keep going in the same direction. "A kiss would do."
A kiss. God. Xander found himself staring at Spike's lips. No, staring bad. Xander waved an arm, gesturing to the non-expanse that was Sunnydale's main street. "Have at it. I can make it home on my own."
"What? With some random stranger who has no idea who I am? What am I supposed to do, brag about myself?"
"Because you hate bragging," Xander said.
"Looks pathetic, doesn't it? No, what I need is someone who already knows what a world-saving, noble, er, evil vamp I am."
Xander fell against the wall of the coffee shop, laughing. Spike hadn't been that funny, not really, but this whole talk of kissing had made him nervous. "You," he laughed, "and Buffy or Willow?"
"Hey," Spike growled. "Either one of them should consider herself lucky..." Something in the sound of his voice stopped Xander's laughter dead in its tracks. "Not what I was going for, was it."
Sulking? Spike was sulking? At least it looked better on him than brooding did on Angel. "Right, because so many girls know about your world-saving... Wait. It's not Dawn, is it? Because Buffy would kick your ass."
"No." Spike grimaced. "She's like a kid, isn't she? Anyway, never said it was a girl, did I?" Spike had suddenly turned away and was staring off in another direction. When he turned back, there was a patently false leer on his face. "Maybe I was thinking about something closer to hand."
Xander's heart lurched. Spike couldn't be serious. "Have you been smoking crack?"
"Not unless somebody snuck some into my cigs," Spike said, as if he didn't care, which he probably didn't. Three steps carried Spike right up to Xander who backed up closer to the wall. Spike's false leer was gone, replaced by something that almost looked... vulnerable? Xander blinked. Spike didn't do vulnerable. "What's the matter?" Spike added. "Got something against the undead?"
"You ever hear me rail against Angel?"
Spike shrugged. "That just shows ya got good taste. What'cha got against kissing the undead, and no, I don't mean Angel."
Xander's laugh sounded more like a bark. "Why kissing..." Blushing furiously, he looked away from Spike. "Why it would be a bad idea of tremendous proportions. Let me count the ways. Well, let's see. First, you're a real manly man, all grrr and everything."
"I don't even know what that means."
"Heterosexual," Xander said. "As in, I know you want to be off kissing girls."
"Which is why I'm here with you," Spike said, his voice a dull drone.
"Second," Xander added, doggedly ignoring Spike's tone, "Well, hell, look at you. You could kiss anybody. Why the hell would you be caught dead – um, ignore that dead bit – kissing dork-boy and his amazing glow-in-the-dark Hawaiian shirts."
"That glow-in-the-dark thing was useful, actually, a couple of weeks back when you distracted that demon and allowed me to sneak up behind it." Spike's voice had perked up. Must have been the thought of how Xander had almost gotten killed that night.
"Third, hmmm, let's see. Who have you dated?" Xander said. "Does an insane but hot Goth vampire chick ring a bell? Let's guess who does not fit that bill."
"You know what? Bored now. Self-pity doesn't look good on you, mate." Spike leaned in and pressed his lips against Xander's. It was over almost before Xander knew it had happened. With a push off the building, Spike turned and started walking.
"Hey wait," Xander called out. Spike stopped but didn't turn around. "What the hell was that?"
Then Spike turned. "You figure out what you want, you let me know."
No, Spike couldn't mean what Xander thought he meant, could he? Xander knew what he wanted. He'd spent months thinking... wanting. But he hadn't thought he could have. Really hoping that Spike meant what he thought Spike meant, Xander closed the distance between them. The world seemed clearer somehow, its edges sharper, its colors brighter. He was never going to live this down if he was wrong. Never taking his gaze from Spike's face, still looking for clues, ready to back off at the slightest hint of mockery, Xander slowly brought his lips to Spike's. A dozen butterfly kisses gave way to one long kiss. Xander felt Spike's lips smiling against his. When a tongue tickled up against him, Xander grabbed Spike's head, pulling it to him.
They paused, drawing apart just barely enough to allow Xander to breathe. "Spike?" he asked.
"Maybe we could finish up your reward at home?"
"Oh no." Spike's voice sounded so like silk that Xander missed the meaning for a moment.
"We've got the reward at home, sure, but first we've got to get there. We've got the reward about three feet down the street from here, and then more reward a few feet past that, and then a few feet past that."
Xander's lips broke out into a smile as he pressed himself against Spike. "We'd better get a move on then. That's a lot of reward between here and there, and we need to be home before sunrise."