Beauty Effulgent

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Sunday Morning Coming Down


Thirty minutes later, Xander had worked his way through most of a pint of Jack Daniels and his begrudging host was still staring at him with a mixture of suspicion and confusion.

Spike watched over the neck of his own bottle as Xander attempted to right himself atop the sarcophagus, only to list to the side again, snickering. First of all, Harris had showed up at his crypt and knocked – knocked, for fuck’s sake – instead of barging in bellowing, “Fangless! Demons! Come!” Secondly, the boy was all earnest eyes and too-wide smile, asking if they could have a chat, as if their brief and never-to-be-repeated graveside moment had made them mates for life.

So far, the only attempts at conversation Xander had made were, “Got any more whiskey?” and “Soap.Net, huh? How’d ya get cable?” Spike had answered obligingly, “Suppose I do,” and “Saw a man about a hook-up,” and then left off, watching Harris drink himself into oblivion and stare back at him, start to speak and then drink again.

When those dark and increasingly bleary eyes darted his way again, Spike wedged his bottle between his knees and leaned forward, sighing. “Something on your mind, Xander? ‘M guessin’ the Bit’s not in trouble and there’s not another bloody world ending afoot, or you would have already blathered my ears off. So just spell it out, already. The not caring’s killing me.”

What followed was an eruption of babble so over-lapping that even Spike’s vampire hearing had to strain to sort it out. Something about “Anya” and “ring” and “fucked up big time” and what could have been a terribly off-key rendering of What’s Love Got to Do With It, followed by a stream of hysterical giggles and ending with a whimper of “nothing matters now, anyway” and “why did you have to say that?”

Spike sat and considered all of that for a moment, watching the other man suck desperately at his drained bottle. “So…let me get this straight. Anyanka left you because you refused to propose again, because evidently once wasn’t the charm, so you decided to come over here and butcher Tina Turner an’ drink my whiskey because I care? Isn’t that, uh, Red’s job?”

Xander snorted. “Yeah. Willow. That’d be helpful. She’d be all ‘ding-dong, the demon’s gone’, we’ll make cookies and poof – all better, and anyway she doesn’t have whiskey and itwasallyourfaultbuddy!”

Spike choked on the mouthful of whiskey he’d just gulped. “My fault? You didn’t have the stones to honor a promise you made to a sodding vengeance demon and it’s my fault?”

Xander frowned, swaying a little and scraping his palms against rough stone as he attempted a graceful dismount. This wasn’t going at all the way he’d imagined. Some evil friend Spike was…

“Oh, don’t go, Harris,” Spike said, waving him back to his ungainly perch. “You Scoobies have tried to pin a lot on me in the past, but this has got to be the most creative. Please, enlighten me as to why I am the fly in your matrimonial ointment. Is it some good soapy plot? Get suspicious that Anyanka and I were having a steamy affair?” Spike grinned wolfishly. “Or did she get a whiff of me on ya tonight and think that maybe you and I had some steamy secrets of our own? Oh, tell, tell, Xander. I’m intrigued.”

Xander’s jaw hung open and he snapped it shut just in time to avoid a deluge of drool. “You and Anya?!” Then he glared, pissed off into a sudden sobriety. “Take that back, you…impotent menace. And you and me? Bah-leah.”

He started to attempt another indignant exit and caught himself right before a face-to-cement impact. “It was what you said tonight. About you and Buffy,” he muttered, not looking at the lord of the evil smirk.

Spike leaned back, his hands clenching on the armrests of his chair, all signs of laughter gone. “What about me and Buffy?” he asked quietly, the words soft and even, but the implied threat in every tense coil of his body.

“That she made you…you said you would have changed for her, if she’d wanted it. I think your exact words were, ‘go all poofy and whipped like Angel,’ if she’d asked. You’d give up everything that meant anything to you, because she was everything. And I don’t know what that’s like.”

Spike’s shoulders relaxed minutely as he looked at Xander, seeing the sadness and loneliness in the boy’s hunched stance, the ‘kick me now, please’ stamped on his face alongside whiskey scented belligerence.

“’S that right, now?” Spike asked in a world-weary tone, tipping the bottle again.

“You know the first time I told Anya I loved her?” Xander continued, as if Spike hadn’t spoken. “The night Riley left. I gave Buffy the ‘chase your dreams’ speech and then watched her take off into the night like some chick flick nightmare, racing toward true love. I even had this whole scenario of them running into each other’s arms, power ballad blaring, and love triumphing over vampire prostitution, brain tumors and mystical destiny.” He chuckled bitterly.

“So I went home and told Anya that I was in love with her. Powerfully, painfully in love with her. Because I wanted to be. I wanted to be the hero, get the girl, have the big romance. Get my heart broken; have hot, angry make-up sex. Get to be the one who ached with love, cried over it, would have died for it. So that’s what Anya was supposed to be about.” Xander looked down at the empty bottle in his hands. “That’s what Anya was always about.”

Spike bit back the, Fuck, Xander, you’re such a bleeding girl, that hovered on his tongue as he remembered a century of dancing to Dru’s quirky tune. Remembered blocking out how she had screamed for ‘Daddy’ and the way it had filled an empty, abandoned factory. And the crumbs he’d begged from the Slayer and salted with his snarky innuendo. His eyes widened and he chuckled darkly.

“Seems like I’m not the only one who’s bent over and played the bitch for love.” He sniggered with genuine amusement as Xander shot up from his drunken lurch.

“Hey! I am nobody’s bitch!” Xander stood frozen, his finger pointed stiffly at Spike, and then his finger began to tremble as a grin overrode his manly sneer. “But I am way frickin’ wasted,” he giggled.

Spike’s lips quirked up in an answering smile. “You, mate, are bloody pissed,” he agreed companionably, toasting Xander with a JD salute.

“…so then there’s Dru, simpering around him like he’s the second bloody coming, and Angel leans over…”

“Angelus,” Xander corrected, with only a slight slurring.

"Angel," Spike said pointedly, bumping his shoulder into Xander's for further emphasis. "That 'Angelus' rot is just a sodding affectation; he's the same bastard by any other name. So, Angel leans over and says, 'Any responsibility I can assume while you're spinning your wheels...' and then he runs his greasy, soulless, beady-ass eyes over my Dru and says, 'Anything I'm not already doing, that is.'" Spike downed another shot. "Fuckin' wanker."

Xander nodded firmly, squirming a bit to get more comfortable as they sat leaned against the hard marble bier. "What a dick."

"But you mark my words, whelp," Spike said, grinning as Xander repeated, ‘Whelp,’ with a giggling snort, "you ask the Watcher, the witches, or any of the rest of the truth and justice lot, who they want on their side against the Big Bad? It won't be Spike or Xander. Nooo. The next time the world goes to shit? They'll be ringin' up His Broodiness while you and I stand there, more man than he'll ever be, soul or no soul."

"Hey! I've got a soul, Spike. I'm souled."

"Nah. Seen you dance. I'm thinkin' pure evil," Spike laughed.

Xander laughed back, pushing his hair off his forehead as he grinned into Spike's laughing, open, and eep, friendly face.

Spike snickered back, looking at Xander and seeing nothing - well, besides drunken goofiness - but laughter. And something like what he'd seen in the Niblet's wide-eyed grin when he was telling a particularly gory tale. Acceptance. Interest. Affection.

Spike cocked his head and his smile faded as he looked at Xander's flushed face, a grin still tugging the corners of the boy's lips as he spun his empty bottle between them.

"Harris," Spike said quietly.

Xander looked up; his grin widening as a snappy comeback formed, and then Spike's lips were on his. Tentative, whiskey flavored coolness slid between Xander's lips, a hand coming up to grasp the back of his neck. Xander's mouth was still open in half-spoken reply, his lips lax and shocked. Just as his tongue decided to give up on talking and take up tangling, Spike was pulling away, shaking his head.

"That's a bad idea, Xander."

Xander stared back at him, mouth open, lips numb, yet somehow still tingling. "Huh?!"

Some dialogue from BtVS S-2 "Passion"

Part Four

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