Cricket


by Saber ShadowKitten







Part Eleven







Demon turkeys almost did keep Xander away, but a barbeque fork, an electric carving knife, and a really long extension cord took care of that problem.

Xander took off work on Friday, giving him an extended weekend, and he packed a bag to take to Los Angeles in hopes he'd be invited to stay. He didn't know how long Spike would be in California, and he wanted to spend as much face-to-face time with the vampire as he could, especially knowing how unhappy Spike was, being alone while performing his heralding duties.

Sometimes it struck Xander as funny that he, ardent dissident in the Buffy-and-Angel club, was concerned about another vampire. He'd made such a stink about Buffy's relationship with a vampire, then he turned around and started something with a vampire who didn't even have a soul making him "good." Hypocrite, thy name was Xander Harris.

Xander pulled his car into the lot of the Hyperion hotel, and what he'd thought was a streetlight turned out to be Spike, sitting on the hood of a battered light blue pickup truck. Heh-heh. The brunette parked, climbed out of the car, and sauntered over to the glowing blond. "Hi, Cricket," he said, grinning.

Spike smiled hugely, tucking the unlit cigarette he'd been playing with behind his ear. "Hello, Xander."

He held out his hand and Xander engulfed it with his, giving it a brief pump before letting go. The handshake didn't seem to be enough, though, to Xander. Uncaring of the picture it presented, the brunette stepped between Spike's legs and crushed the other man to him in a hard hug. Spike's arms came around Xander's waist, and Xander felt the vampire tremble slightly, causing him to hug a bit tighter.

"Welcome back," Xander said in the vampire's ear. "You were missed."

The blond was blushing and wore a combination pleased-embarrassed expression when Xander released him. "Missed only by you, most likely," he said.

"Yeah, but I'm the only one who counts," Xander said with a wink. The vampire became flustered and Xander laughed lightly, smacked him on the thigh, and joined him on the hood of the truck.

The younger man studied Spike out of the corner of his eye. At first glance, Spike looked like he always had. He was dressed in his usual black tee and jeans, and his blond hair was gelled back. His features were still as angular as always, and eyes a piercing blue.

But there were differences in his appearance, as well. The hollows of his cheeks seemed deeper and the gold glow couldn't hide the dark circles beneath his eyes. With a casual glance, Xander saw that Spike's belt was cinched super-tight, pinching the extra denim. Xander was surprised he couldn't see each of Spike's ribs, but the tee he wore was loose, whether purposely or not was the question. Xander thought that Spike's no longer having the chip would cause him to feed more, but it looked like he was eating even less.

"So, how was the trip back from Finland?" Xander asked, filing his questions away for a later time.

"Not so bad," Spike replied. "Ehrick -- warrior number 27 -- gave me a lift to Ivola instead of my having to take the train, so that cut the trip in half. The flight here was bloody long, though, and I had to sit on the effin' floor for the last leg of it, from New York to LAX, because of all the soddin' holiday travelers."

"That must've sucked," Xander commented.

"It did," Spike said, mock pouting. "I couldn't even watch the in-flight picture or have any of those salted peanuts."

"Poor baby," Xander tisked. "You know what you need?"

"Sex."

Xander snorted. "No, not sex. Although sex is always a good thing to have...," he trailed off as intimate images flashed suddenly through his brain. Images of Spike's naked glowing body arching beneath Xander, those blue eyes hazy with desire.

Xander shook his head, hard, jolting the naughty pictures from his mind. He'd never thought of Spike that way before, naked and writhing under him, begging for his touch. Lips bruised ripe red from kissing. Dark hickies marring the column of that pale neck. Wrists pinned to the pillow, unable to move, completely at Xander's mercy...

Xander made a strangled sound and hopped quickly off the truck. Back to Spike, he untucked his shirt and hoped it hid the raging boner he now sported. This was so not good, Xander thought frantically. So very, very not good.

"Xander, you okay, mate?" Spike asked, putting his hand on the brunette's shoulder after sliding off the truck.

"Yeah," Xander laughed nervously. "I got a cramp. From sitting in the car too long. Bad leg cramp." He clutched his thigh in fake pain. "Ow."

"I've had those a time or five. They're a bitch." Spike clucked his tongue sympathetically. "Best you can do is try and walk it out."

"Right, walk it out." More like run screaming into the night, Xander thought, hobbling towards the hotel's door. He wondered when it was he'd forgotten how to disguise the fact he was rock hard beneath his trousers. Somewhere between year three and four in his relationship with Anya, possibly.

Xander was last to arrive because of the demon turkeys, and it was close to the time dinner was to be served. After receiving a tongue-lashing from Cordelia, he said a fast hello to everyone, then made a bee-line for the restroom to "freshen up."

"What in the world is going on in that sick mind of yours?" Xander asked his reflection in the mirror above the sink. "You don't like other guys that way, especially guys who are your friends."

Confident that he wouldn't further embarrass himself, Xander left the restroom and joined the group gathered around a beige table-cloth covered dining table in the hotel's dining room. Spike's smile was friendly as he motioned for Xander to sit beside him. Angel was at one end of the table and Cordelia at the other. Wesley and Gunn were seated across from Spike and Xander.

Food enough for an army -- or for Xander and Gunn, with a bit extra for the others -- was spread over the table. Traditional turkey of the non-demonic variety had been sliced thinly. There was mashed potatoes and yams, green bean and onion casserole, asparagus, spinach salad, stuffing, fluffy rolls, orange fruit Jell-O, cranberry sauce molded in the shape of the can it came out of. The fine china had been used, gold rimmed plates and real silver silverware, crystal water goblets and wine decanters. The one thing out of place was the bright green plastic pitcher with a piece of masking tape stuck to the side, which had written on it: 'Blood.'

Once a glass of red wine was poured for everyone, Cordelia lightly tapped her glass with her spoon. "Before we start stuffing our faces, I think Angel should make a toast."

"You do, huh?" Angel sighed dramatically, picked up his wine glass, and stood. "Um, well, I'll make this short."

"Good, I'm starved," Gunn said, rubbing his hands together in anticipation.

There were titters all around as Angel gave Gunn a dirty look. "As I was saying," the dark-haired vampire continued, "a toast: with a family like this, I'm surprised I haven't taken up sunbathing."

"Angel!" Cordelia exclaimed as Spike and Gunn booed and Wesley and Xander laughed behind their hands. "If you can't do it right, someone else will!"

"Oh, good," Angel said, sitting.

Cordelia looked like she was going to blow her top any second. Xander surreptitiously started to move sharp objects away from her. Spike came to the rescue by standing and raising his glass.

"A real toast, everyone," the blond said. "I've been gone for six months, thereabouts, doing my job the Powers chose me to do. It's difficult, it's lonely," his gaze dropped to Xander, "and if it wasn't for you taking the time to email and chat with me, I might have quit, and the world would've suffered." Spike abruptly looked at everyone else seated around the table, encompassing them in the statement. "So, er, to family."

"To family," the others echoed, lifting their glasses in response.

Spike retook his seat and leaned over to whisper to Xander as Gunn began passing the food. "Well, I feel like a smegging poof."

Xander gave Spike a tight smile, instead of gathering the blond to him and holding tight, like he would Anya when he became emotional. The food came around, and Xander dished it on his plate automatically. Again, he was feeling things that were a little deeper than what a friend should feel for another.

Out of the corner of his eye, Xander watched as Spike gulped down a full glass of blood without pause, then pour himself a second glass and do it again. Xander didn't know about vampire physiology, but if Spike were human he'd make himself sick eating so fast. "Hey," the younger man said quietly, putting a hand on Spike's forearm. "Slow down. There's more blood in the kitchen, I'm sure."

Spike glanced at him, chagrined. "Yeah, you're probably right." The vampire set the glass down, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and struck up a conversation with Angel. "Tell me, Pops, how goes it with your Second, Lindsey?"

Gunn and Wesley snickered as Angel growled, "Don't say that name in my hotel."

Spike's brow shot up. "Trouble in paradise?"

"I can't stand the little shit," Angel ground out.

Spike looked at Xander, grinned widely, then looked back at Angel with a blank face. "Really?"

Xander tried not to choke on his food in laughter. Cordelia's smirk wasn't helping any. Luckily, Wesley and Gunn were deep in their own conversation, ignoring everyone else.

"He's smart-mouthed, he's annoying, he won't listen to me or do anything I say. He aggravates the hell out of me. And he's... he's... he's short!" Angel sputtered irately.

"Short, huh?" Spike tisked. "How awful." He ducked under Angel's swing, laughingly.

"It's not amusing," Angel snarled.

"Is, too," Spike countered.

"Is not," Angel stated, giving the blond a long look. "I already have you, I don't need your human twin, especially since I can't just beat him into behaving."

Spike slumped in his chair and pressed his hands dramatically over his heart. "You wound me."

"I'm going to wound you," Angel said calmly.

Spike puckered his lips and fluttered his eyelashes at the older vampire. Angel leaned forward threateningly, and Spike squeaked, turned on his chair, and buried his face against Xander's chest. "Help!" he mock-cried.

Xander curved an arm around Spike's shoulders, trying not to notice how thin they were, and played along. "You leave him alone," he scolded.

"Still the White Knight rescuing damsels in distress, eh, Xander?" Angel said, smirking.

"Oi!"

"You bet your big tushie," Xander replied to Angel. "I specialize in protecting tiny blonds."

"Oi -- again!" Spike raised his head and glowered at Xander. "'M'not tiny."

With his face inches away, the circles under Spike's eyes were even darker, his lightly glowing skin taut over the fine bones of his cheeks. His blue eyes were sharp and full of life, however, and the world shifted under Xander's seat.

Xander abruptly pushed Spike away, though not roughly, and cleared his throat. "You are tiny," he said gruffly, reaching for the pitcher of blood. He topped off Spike's glass and foisted it at the blond. "Drink that. All of it."

Spike appeared befuddled, but he accepted the glass and drank the blood under Xander's watchful eye. When the glass was empty, Xander refilled it with the remainder of the pitcher's contents, set the pitcher aside, and went back to his meal, his cheeks burning from his over-protective actions.

The rest of the meal was spent with Xander feeling extremely self-conscious. He almost cheered when dinner was over, and eagerly volunteered to help clean up over the protests of his being a guest. He needed to be busy and away from Spike for a little while.

Xander hadn't expected Thanksgiving to turn out like it had. Actually, he had planned on volunteering for dish duty, but in his mental scenario it was Spike, and not Angel, who assisted him. Spike had gone upstairs to fix up a room for Xander, who, as anticipated, had been invited to stay through the weekend.

Angel was a quiet dishwashing partner, for which Xander was grateful. His mind was in too much of a tangle to try and make small talk.

Xander had known Spike in some way, shape, or form for seven years -- seven years -- and never had the blond affected him so greatly until today. Spike had gone from the enemy, to the annoyance, to the pest, to a friend, to... something Xander refused to put a label on, because that would make it true. "Why does Spike have to have such blue eyes?" he muttered.

"I've asked myself that question a million times," Angel said, startling Xander. "I've spoiled that boy rotten because of those baby blues, and that was back when I was an evil bastard."

Xander gnawed on his lower lip, wondering if he could talk to Angel, as they continued washing the dishes. The brunette vampire wasn't his favorite person, but he couldn't see trying to talk to Cordelia about his odd feelings, and his Sunnydale friends were most definitely out. Angel would be honest, probably bluntly so, since they didn't really get along.

Xander handed Angel a washed crystal water goblet. "Um, Angel?"

"Hmm?" Angel carefully dried the goblet, thankfully not looking right at Xander.

"Would it be... weird... if I said I liked Spike?" Xander ventured awkwardly.

"No. He's very likable when he's not being an ass," Angel replied. He gave Xander a sidelong glance. "But I have a feeling you mean 'like' in a way that involves mood lighting."

Deft vampire reflexes caught the crystal goblet before it hit the floor. Xander reddened in embarrassment. "Good catch," he mumbled. He picked up a fork and scrubbed it vigorously with the sponge. After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, he asked, "It's, uh, that obvious?"

"To me, yes, but Spike is my son," Angel answered. "To the others... maybe Cordelia. Doubtful Gunn and Wes."

"And Spike?"

A smile played on Angel's lips. "I think he's hopeful that you do."

Xander nodded slowly and returned to scrubbing dishes. He knew Spike liked him in that way, he had known it for awhile. The blond had never pushed, though, for reciprocation, nor actually verbalized his attraction to Xander, but the brunette knew the attraction was there.

"But I don't like guys like that," Xander said suddenly as Angel hung up the dishtowel.

"Neither did Spike," Angel responded and walked out of the room.

The unspoken "Until you" hung in the air long after Xander vacated the kitchen.





Part Twelve



Spike gave his bed a loving look as he stripped out of his clothing. He couldn't wait to slip between the clean sheets and have a good sleep for once. No lumpy mattresses in strange hotels, no sheets with unidentifiable stains, no need to keep an ear out for the cleaning person or a guest having been assigned the room. And all that had been when he was lucky enough to stay at a hotel. The rest of the time he slept with one eye open in whatever moving vehicle he hitched a ride on, hoping no one chose the seat in which he was sitting or step on him if he was stuck on the floor.

Spike padded naked into the bathroom for a shower, another luxury and the second he'd taken since he'd arrived at the Hyperion this morning. The strong water pressure and unlimited hot water was heaven, just like the bed and the ensured privacy and the availability of as much blood as he wanted.

It was good to be home.

The blond groaned softly in pleasure as he stepped under the hot spray of the shower. The water sluiced down his body, sliding along the ridges and hollows, warming his constantly cool skin. Spicy smelling shampoo removed all traces of gel from his too-long hair. A real bar of unscented soap, rather than the free perfumed hotel cake-soaps he had been stuck with so far, was used to lather his glowing limbs, tinting the incandescent soap bubbles gold.

Hot water beating on his back, Spike closed his eyes and conjured up the memory of the post-dinner game of Trivial Pursuit. He wrapped soapy fingers around his burgeoning erection as he pictured Xander's ruthless determination to win the game. He pictured the way Xander's face scrunched as he searched his brain for an elusive answer. The way he sucked the salt from the peanuts he was eating off of his fingers. The private wink he'd given Spike near the end of the game, smiling happily as he answered a trivia question that they had debated about over email a month ago.

Turning, Spike rested his forehead on the cool tile shower wall, spreading his legs for better balance. His hand stroked firmly, the soap aiding his quest for self-satisfaction. With a twist of his wrist, he buffed the head of his shaft on each upstroke, calloused palm lightly abrasing the super-sensitive flesh.

Eyes still closed, he imagined it was Xander's large hand tugging his cock. He moaned. Wiping his other hand on his stomach, Spike reached behind him and slid a soapy digit between his cheeks. He moaned again, louder, as his finger breached the tight ring of muscle and slipped inside. He pushed a second digit inside the grasping channel, and began to thrust his fingers in and out as he masturbated.

"Touch me, Xander," Spike panted against the seafoam-colored tile of the shower stall. "Touch me, ohhhh, please... love me... love me, Xander, love me..."

Spike came with a sob, splashing the wall with his sticky semen. Love me. He sighed, his hands falling to his sides. If only, he thought, stepping under the shower spray to rinse clean.

*****

Xander poked his head around the door, no one having answered his knock. "Spike? Are you in here?" he called, venturing tentatively into the suite.

After the dishes had been washed and over the remainder of the evening, Xander had decided that it was all right to like Spike in a "mood lighting" manner. Xander lived in the twenty-first century. He was up with women loving other women and men loving other men. He'd voted to legalize same-gender marriages. He was open-minded to the idea that men having sex with other men had to feel good, or else they wouldn't be doing it.

Okay, no, that still wigged Xander. Not the peripheries of sex, such as handjobs or blowjobs, but the actual back door lovin'. Getting fingered by Dr. Benjamin never did a thing for Xander, besides make him blush.

But Xander was going to be open. He'd try it at least once before passing judgement. Besides, things with Spike may never get to that point. They'd only kissed one time, briefly, and that was half a year ago. Plus, the kiss had been pretty damn bad, and if all of them were like that, it would be a real short relationship.

The bathroom door opened, and Xander turned in that direction. "Sorry, Spike, I didn't know you were--," the brunette's eyes landed on Spike, "--naked."

Spike stood in the bathroom doorway, looking like a naked glowing deer caught in the headlights. He had a towel, only it was wrapped around his head, turban-style, rather than his waist, leaving him naked. Completely, totally naked.

Naked.

It wasn't as arousing as Xander thought it would be. But that probably had to do with the way Spike looked naked. The fact that Xander, Jr. was stirring at all meant that Naked Spike did something for him. Only... "Jesus H. Christ, Spike, you look like one of those glow-in-the-dark skeletons people hang out for Halloween."

Naked Spike moved suddenly, yanking the towel from his head and holding it in front of him. "Sod off," he grumbled, crossing to the dresser and pulling on a pair of those ridiculous white briefs he favored.

"What the hell have you been doing to yourself?" Xander asked in anger and worry as he stalked over to Spike. He grabbed the vampire's boney shoulders and forced the blond to face him. "Gods, Spike, a good, stiff wind would blow you away." Or break him into a million pieces, he looked so fragile.

"It's none of your business," Spike said, glaring at Xander and twisting the towel in his hands.

"I'm making it my business," Xander snapped. "You have circles under your circles under your eyes; you make a skeleton look fat; and earlier you were drinking blood like a starving man." His gaze shifted slightly. "And what is up with your hair? Did you get a perm or something?"

"The curls are natural," Spike ground out between clenched teeth.

And that's when Xander saw the glint of tears in Spike's eyes. He silently cursed his callousness. Something obviously wasn't right with the vampire and, instead of asking with concern, he was berating Spike.

Xander took a calming breath and relaxed his grip on Spike's shoulders. "I'm sorry," he said, lightly brushing his thumbs against the blond's sharp collarbones. "I shouldn't have yelled. But you don't look very good, Cricket, and you haven't mentioned in any of your posts that you're sick or something. I'm surprised Angel hasn't chained you to a fully stocked fridge."

"He threatened to, but I made him drop it," Spike mumbled.

"Well, I'm not dropping it," Xander told him. "Now, talk."

Spike shrugged, lowering his head. "Nothing to talk about. My job's just a tad harder than I thought it would be."

"How?"

The blond fiddled with the towel in his hands. "I'm on the move most of the time, and there isn't always a way for me to get blood," he replied. "And being invisible means I have to be constantly on guard, so I don't get sat on or stepped on, or have window shades opened in the middle of a sunny day."

"I bet the money's bad, too, huh?" Xander teased gently.

"Yeah," Spike agreed dully.

Xander sighed. "You're going to have to take better care of yourself, Spike. I like having something to hold onto when I'm screwing someone into the mattress."

The blond's head shot up, wild damp curls flying everywhere. Xander didn't think Spike's eyes could get any larger. A small smirk tugged up a corner of Xander's mouth. There was one way to find out...

Xander didn't hesitate when he dipped his head and pressed his lips against Spike's. The kiss was soft. Gentle. Almost chaste.

Xander felt the towel drop onto his feet, and he instantly remembered that Spike was naked. No, not naked; Spike was wearing white BVDs.

And suddenly Xander was turned on, faster than a flick of a switch.

Oh gods, he had a kink. Oh gods, Spike's mouth was opening beneath his, kissing him back. With tongue. Oh gods.

Xander dove into Spike's mouth, tasting him, teasing him into retaliation. The vampire thrust his hands into Xander's hair, rose up on his toes, angled his head and fused their mouths together. Their tongues danced a lovers' dance, though someone had to lead. In the end, it was Xander's desperate need to catch his breath that allowed Spike to win.

"Holy shit," Xander panted, then sneaked in for another kiss... or two... or three.

Or four.

He tore his mouth away from Spike's, gasping, "Aah... must... breathe..."

"Breathing's highly overrated," Spike said, and kissed him again.

Xander whimpered and dragged the blond flush against him. The only thing now separating them was Xander's clothes and Spike's BVDs. Groan.

The younger man firmly put Spike away from him this time. "Breath... me... do... yes... now," he panted.

Spike may not have needed to catch his breath, but the dopey smile and glazed look in his eyes proved he was not unaffected. It made Xander want to kiss Spike again. So he did.

"Mearghaaa," Xander gurgled, really pushing Spike away this time. If he didn't stop, what was left of his brain would dribble out his ear.

Spike stood across from the brunette, in his underwear, wobbling slightly. Or was it Xander who was wobbling? Or was the world wobbling on its axis?

"Much better than the first kiss," Spike commented.

"How can you... sound so rational... and not fall down?" Xander asked, still breathless. Whatever moron said just to breathe through your nose when kissing obviously had never been kissed like this.

"Vampire secret," Spike replied, then grinned ruefully. "Just don't ask me to move from this spot. I don't think my knees work."

Xander laughed. Then he kissed Spike again. Breathing was overrated anyway.





Part Thirteen





Spike's footsteps thundered on the stairs as he ran down them. Streaking across the lobby for the phone on the registration counter -- he didn't have one in his room -- he punched in Cordelia's number and waited for her to pick up.

"This had better be important," Cordelia growled over the phone line.

"He kissed me!" Spike exclaimed ecstatically to his best friend. "An open-mouthed, tongue-probing, wet bloody-effin'-smacker."

"I take it you liked," she said dryly.

Spike propped an elbow on the counter and leaned his cheek on his fist. He sighed, a glazed look in his eyes. "Yeah."

"Did he like?"

"I think so," the blond replied. "He kept at it. So, yeah. Maybe. I hope."

"Do you want me to ask him if he did?" Cordelia said over the line.

"No!" Spike said immediately. "Hell, no, don't do that! He'll think I put you up to it."

"So?"

"So it'd be bloody embarrassing," Spike replied.

"So?" Spike heard the evil smirk in her voice, and scowled.

"Spike, why are you in the lobby in your underwear?" Angel came up beside the blond, a confused frown on his face.

"Fishing," Spike answered sarcastically. He waved the receiver at the older man. "I'm using the phone, dolt."

"In your underwear?"

"Yes, in my underwear," Spike repeated with impatience. "Now, if you don't mind, I'm using the phone."

"You're in your underwear in the lobby?" Cordelia giggled, obviously listening in.

"This isn't one of those 900-numbers I'm going to pay through the roof for, is it?" Angel said disapprovingly.

"1-900-WANK-OFF," Spike said loud enough for Cordelia to hear. He shoved the receiver by Angel's ear. "Have a listen."

"I don't want to listen," Angel protested, trying to move his head away from the phone. He froze suddenly, his eyes widening and a blush spreading across his cheeks. He swallowed thickly.

Chuckling, Spike put the phone to his own ear again, catching the tail end of what Cordelia was saying.

"--scratch my nails down your muscular chest, raising welts as I ride you as hard as you're making me wet," Cordelia purred in his ear.

Spike cleared his throat, arousal stirring in his underwear. "Sounds good, pet."

Cordelia laughed. "Did I get Angel?"

"Yeah, you got him all right," Spike said, watching as Angel disappeared up the stairs. "He's going to his room to toss off."

"That's yummy imagery for me to dream about."

"Cordelia!"

"What? Do you want me to dream about you in your undies instead?"

Spike sputtered.

"I'll probably be dreaming about you and Xander playing smoochie-face," she said. "Mm, yeah. I like that."

"I'm hanging up now," Spike told her.

"Okay. Bye. Kiss Xander sloppily for me."

"I plan on it," he said.

And he did. Over the next few days, Spike kissed Xander sloppily many, many times. And when they weren't kissing, they were talking, or Xander was forcing blood down Spike's throat. It felt nice to be cared about after months of being on his own. Spike didn't mind Xander's fussing, which included making sure he got plenty of sleep. By the time Sunday night rolled around, he had gotten rid of the dark circles under his eyes and had put on seven pounds.

But now Xander was returning to Sunnydale after dropping Spike at LAX for his flight to New York and then on to Europe. Spike didn't want to leave, nor did Xander want him to go.

"Promise me you'll eat," Xander said, the car parked in an unlit area of the airport parking garage. His youthful features were hidden in the shadows, but Spike could hear the worry in his voice. "If I'm going to try this 'gay' thing out, I want to brag that my boyfriend is sexy as sin, not as skinny as a rail."

"I will," Spike promised, gently squeezing the hand clasped with his on the seat between them. He had no real control over when he fed, but he would when he was able. "You watch your back. I want to brag that my boyfriend is alive."

Xander chuckled softly. "Will do."

A sad silence descended in the car. Spike watched the clock on the dash creep closer to the time his flight took him away from Xander. Finally, he could not postpone leaving any longer. "I have to go," the blond said.

"I know." Xander gave him a half-hearted leer. "Give us a kiss."

Spike folded a leg under himself in order to get closer to Xander in the tight confines of the car. He cupped Xander's face between his palms and brought their lips together. The kiss was bittersweet, a new relationship coming to a partial halt too soon.

"Goodbye." Spike whispered, and was out of the car and walking quickly away, leaving Xander behind.

*****

Life hadn't changed too much since Xander and Spike became a couple. "Other than the fact that I am certifiably insane," Xander muttered, scrolling down the page on the computer screen. Their chats and emails were a little more flowery, peppered with "miss yous" and "kiss yous." Double entendres were heavy in almost all the posts, but the naughty talk stayed implied.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, online, Spike had flat-out asked Xander if he wanted to have cybersex.

Xander's first reaction had been sputtered laughter. Then he found that Spike was serious, and he freaked. He'd never had cybersex before, for one thing. For another, he didn't know if he was ready to take the step towards any type of sex with Spike yet.

Well... that was kind of a lie. Xander had been ready and able to bed the blond over Thanksgiving. He could have easily tossed Spike down and kissed each protruding rib on that too-skinny body. Xander could have played the comparison game, finding the similarities and learning the differences between making love to a man as opposed to a woman. He could have held the fragile-looking vampire in his arms as they curled together in sleep. Xander could have... but he hadn't. Their relationship was too new and, in spite of kisses that left Xander weak-kneed and breathless, he hadn't fully accepted that it was okay to want another male sexually after decades of being straight.

And that was why Xander was surfing the Internet today, reading everything he could about bisexuality and homosexuality. He'd learned a lot so far, including some things he didn't want to know. Still, he wasn't as put off as he'd thought he'd be, especially after reading some first-hand narratives of other men around his age who'd been in similar situations... although none of them were attracted to a malnourished vampire who was also the Powers' chosen Herald ushering in the first days of the apocalypse.

Xander was currently reviewing an "instructional" webpage explaining the literal ins-and-outs of two men copulating. As with every other page he'd read, the word 'Condoms' was in bold, italicized, and underlined. Further down the page, he found the reference to lubricant he knew would be there. His eyes were starting to cross at the constant repetition. This page, like all the others, basically centered around one idea: if it feels good, do it -- with condoms.

cricket818: Hello, love.

The AIM window popped up on Xander's computer screen, blocking what he was reading. He didn't mind. In fact, it was time to put his newly acquired knowledge to use. Anticipation swelled inside him, and caused other parts of him to swell, too.

thatxandershapedguy: Hey. You're on early tonight.

cricket818: I couldn't wait any longer to talk to you.

thatxandershapedguy: IOW: you're horny.

cricket818: You know me so well.

Xander blew out a breath of air, cracked his knuckles, leaned forward in his chair, and cannon-balled into the deep end of the cybersex pool.

thatxandershapedguy: Actually, I don't know you that well. I don't know if you'd shiver if I licked the rim of your ear. I don't know what sound you'd make if I sucked hard on the side of your neck, bruising you with my mouth. I don't know how you would look pinned under me on the bed, my nude body covering your naked form.

Xander shifted as his Dockers became too tight, and continued typing.

thatxandershapedguy: I don't even know how it would *feel* to have you beneath me, to have your parts pressed intimately to my parts. Would the hair on my legs tickle your nearly bare ones? Would I cover you completely, like a Xander-blanket? Would I squish you?

cricket818: Oh, gods. Xander.

thatxandershapedguy: What?

cricket818: Don't stop. Keep writing.

A pleased smile spread across Xander's face. This cybersex thing wasn't too bad.

thatxandershapedguy: Don't stop? You like me telling you that I want to take you to bed and explore that body of yours, to see if you gained or lost weight using my hands and lips and tongue? Or to find all your ticklish spots and the spots that make you whimper in pleasure?

Xander wondered if Spike was getting as aroused just reading as he was from writing.

thatxandershapedguy: Do you want me to touch you, Cricket? Do you want me to wrap my hand around you cock like I would my own and jag you off? Do you like it fast? Or should I go slow? Would you like it if I tugged on your nuts, squeezing them firmly? Would you like it if I touched that little patch of skin between your hole and your balls? Or would you like it more if I used my tongue?

The devil had prompted Xander to add that last bit and, despite his flaming cheeks, Spike's reaction was well worth it.

cricket818: I can be in Sunnydale in 24 hours.

Xander laughed out loud.

thatxandershapedguy: What would the Powers say if you abandoned your duties for sex?

cricket818: Fuck them.

thatxandershapedguy: Sorry, I don't do threesomes. Or foursomes. Or five... how many make up the PTB?

cricket818: Xanderrrrrrr.

thatxandershapedguy: Spiiiiiiiike.

cricket818: I want you.

thatxandershapedguy: I want you, too. But not yet.

cricket818: ???

Xander sighed, adjusted his pants, and answered honestly.

thatxandershapedguy: Talking dirty is fine and dandy, and I do fantasize about you when I flog the log, and I couldn't kiss you enough back at Thanksgiving, and my hands itch to touch you (either that or I've waxed my pole one too many times), and I'm curious to find out if what I read is true, but... why was I saying no again?

cricket818: Sigh. Because you would feel piss-poor if the world ended while we were bumping uglies.

thatxandershapedguy: There is that, too. But I was thinking more along the lines of being scared to death to take that final step into Homoland, even if the rides sound like fun.

cricket818: And you think I'm not? I've never been with another bloke before, either, and I have 135 years on you. I'm bloody scared shitless that I'm going to suck.

thatxandershapedguy: I'm kind of hoping you will. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.

cricket818: Lol. Kinky.

thatxandershapedguy: No, kinky is me getting turned on by your underwear.

cricket818: You get aroused by my white cotton trolleys?

thatxandershapedguy: Shamefully, yes.

cricket818: So if I told you that was all I had on at the mo'...

Sproing. Xander popped the button on his pants... without using his hands. He groaned and gripped the edge of the computer desk as his mind conjured up the blond in his skivvies. The perverted image in his head would be better if Spike didn't look like he would break if Xander touched him.

thatxandershapedguy: Have you been feeding?

cricket818: Somehow I don't think that was a non sequitur. And yes, I have. Sort of.

thatxandershapedguy: Sort of?

cricket818: I'm in the wilds of Russia, Xander. I'm not about to go chasing after food in the snow. I'm off to Beijing in a few days. In a city there's more blood available.

thatxandershapedguy: Don't remind me.

Brief pause, then:

cricket818: Xander, you don't think that I munch on humans, do you?

Xander was trying hard not to think about it at all, actually.

cricket818: I take it by your non-response that's a yes.

cricket818: Just bloody wonderful. I haven't fed from a human in over six years, Xander, and I'm not about to start now.

thatxandershapedguy: But the chip is gone.

cricket818: So?

thatxandershapedguy: So you're free to eat humans again, Mr. Vampire.

Xander wondered where his brain went. One minute he was having cybersex, and the next he was talking about Spike killing people.

"Way to show trust, asshole," Xander cursed himself, trying to formulate something to say to Spike. The blond beat him to it.

cricket818: If you really think that I'm back to my old ways after all this time, then you don't know me at all. I've got to go. I've got a job to do.

cricket818 has logged off at 10:36 p.m..





Continued