The Love Boat: Welcome Aboard

by Saber ShadowKitten
Tiny Smiles 17a

"How would you like to go on a cruise?" was Xander's greeting as he entered the apartment after a very long day at the construction site, a day made longer by the excitement of the idea that prompted his question.

"A cruise?" Spike repeated from the corner of the couch where he was curled up with a book, still in his bed clothes and with bed head, glasses perched on his nose.

"Yep, a cruise." Xander joined Spike on the couch after shedding his winter coat and work boots. He pulled a clipping from Genre magazine from his back pocket and handed it to Spike. "We can afford it, thanks to my brilliant investing with Merrill Anya, and I can get the week off from work."

[Say yes,] Xander mentally pleaded. He really wanted to get away from Sunnydale. He wanted to spend time with Spike that wasn't interrupted constantly by apocalypses, demons, or death. He wanted to get away from the tension between Giles, Buffy, Spike, and himself caused by Drusilla's visit two weeks ago. Willow and Tara were happy that the vampire chose Xander over his century-long love. Buffy was happy, too, but wary of the possibility that Spike and Drusilla really had planned something and were just using Xander, and Angel's visit hadn't helped any. Giles, though, was constantly pissing off Xander by his assertion that Spike couldn't love because he lacked a soul. [It's pretty bad when your father figure is basically telling you meaningless sex is okay, but not love.]

Besides getting away from his troubles, Xander also wanted to go because it was kind of their anniversary. A year ago next week he and Spike had kissed for the first time at the movie theater. Then, later that same night, they had shared their second kiss in the willow tree. [And women say guys don't remember that stuff.]

"Xander, this is a couples' cruise," Spike said, reading the advert. "A gay couples' cruise."

"Yeah, so?"

"You want to go on a holiday with a boat full of poofs?"

Xander grinned. "We'll fit right in."

Spike shot Xander a dark look [which is so effective with bed head and those glasses. Snerk.] "I am not a poof," the blond declared.

[Bwahahahaha.] Xander snorted. "Try again."

"I'm not." Off came the glasses and the dark look got darker. "I don't like men, I just like you."

Xander smirked in self-deprecation. "I don't know whether to feel insulted, or squishy." He snatched the advert from between Spike's fingers. "C'mon, let's go. It's cheap, there are things to do all night, and we don't have to worry about getting our asses kicked because I kissed you under the stars."

"I'm not a fairy, but you most certainly are," Spike said with a teasing lift to the corner of his lips.

"Just call me Fluffy Carmichael," Xander said. Spike's brows shot into his hairline, and Xander laughed. "It's my drag queen name. Willow found the name generator on the Internet. Your drag queen name is the name of your first pet and the street you first lived on. Hence, Fluffy Carmichael."

"Ah." Spike shook his head sadly. "I don't know about you..."

Xander chuckled. "What about yours, Mr. I'm-Not-A-Poof? What's your drag queen name?"

Spike suddenly made a big show of putting his glasses in their case. "I didn't have a pet when I was human. Mother didn't want animals to dirty the flat."


"Stop making that face," Spike growled. "I don't care that I didn't have a soddin' pet."


"Xander, stop looking at me like that."


"Fine. We'll go on your shirtlifters' cruise," the blond grumped, rising from the couch. "Just knock it off."


"And, no, I don't want you to run out and get us a pet, either," Spike said over his shoulder as he headed out of the living room.

"But what about your drag queen name?" Xander said, snickering.

"I have one already," Spike called from down the hall. "According to our mail, I'm Mrs. Xander Harris."

Xander sank back against the couch, a dopey grin sliding across his face. [Mrs. Xander Harris. Cool.]

Two seconds later, Xander shot off the couch and ran down the hall. There was a shriek from the bedroom, followed by laughter, followed by a long, satisfied silence.


Xander couldn't stop humming The Love Boat theme even though the ship they were on was not the Pacific Princess. Julie McCoy hadn't greeted them when they came on board, Ace had not tried to take their picture, and Gopher was a lanky redhead named Wendy. Still... ["Love, life's sweetest reward. Let it flow, it floats back to you. The Love Boat soon will be making another run..."]

The Ocean Sunfire was, in layman's terms, a very big ship. A very big, pretty ship. It had many floors, many cabins, many common areas and, currently, many gay men wandering around examining its many splendors. Xander planned to do the same later, after they were settled in their interior cabin.

"This is us." Xander used the keycard on the cabin door and opened it with a flourish. "Voila. Welcome to our floating home away from home."

Spike rolled his eyes and entered the cabin, the blanket he'd used for sun protection draped over his arm and a duffle slung over his leather-clad shoulder. Xander followed him in, let the door swing shut behind him, and took a good look at their accommodations for the week.

The walls, floor, furnishings, and bedspread were various shades of beige. Tropical prints hung on the windowless walls, adding bright colors to the otherwise drab room. A queen-sized [heh, how appropriate] bed was bolted to the floor on one side of the room, a single night-stand beside it. There was a chest of drawers along the same wall as the door to the compact bath. A television was in a corner caddy high on the wall across from the bed. [Definitely not The Love Boat, but what did I expect for $599 a person, double occupancy, plus tax.]

On the dresser was a pamphlet about the cruise line and an activity brochure for the week. Xander found their PFDs in the bottom drawer of the dresser. "We'll have to hide you in the bathroom during the required lifeboat drill," he commented to the blond, who was still standing the center of the small cabin, looking around with disdain.

"How do they decide 'women and children first' in a ship full of queers?" Spike commented dryly.

Xander goosed the vampire as he passed to answer the knock on the door. Spike jumped and shot him a glare before walking over to the bed. [One bed. One have-no-choice-but-to-share-the-bed bed. Spike and me, sharing one bed for an entire week.] Xander shook his head. [Make that Spike in the bed and me under a cold shower the entire week.]

Despite an admission of love, Spike and Xander hadn't slept together in either meaning of the word. Sometimes after they'd fooled around under the sheets, they snoozed together, but there hadn't been deliberate 'going to bed to go to sleep' activities. And putting 'Spike' and 'intercourse' in the same sentence was guaranteed to cause blushing, stuttering, and sometimes even fleeing. If it wasn't so endearing, Xander wouldn't be continuing to take it so, so [sooooooooooooooooooo] slow.

They were on vacation, though, with one bed and no friends or enemies to interrupt or provide excuses. For one full week, they were completely alone... along with a shipload of other couples. But Xander wasn't planning to allow them into the cabin, or the single bed. Xander was planning to romance the socks off Spike -- literally -- and show him what he'd been missing. [He shall be mine. Oh yes, he shall be mine.]

"Luggage," a mustachioed Hispanic in uniform proclaimed when Xander opened the cabin door. He stepped past Xander, dragging a large suitcase and carrying a suit-bag with Xander and Spike's dress clothing in it. The steward hung the suit-bag on a hook behind the door and hoisted their luggage onto the luggage rack at the end of the bed.

A lump-sum gratuity was to be paid at the end of the cruise, according to the cruise literature, so Xander ushered the steward out with only a "Thanks." The brunette stuck the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the doorknob, closed the door, and turned the privacy lock on the door. The snick of the lock was loud in Xander's ears and, as if it were the switch to his libido, he pivoted suddenly and pinned the blond vampire with a predatory look. [Alone at last.]

Spike shrank back slightly as Xander slowly stalked him. He was a perfect target, sitting on the edge of the bed, discarded duster laying next to him. Blue eyes widened and strong fingers clenched and unclenched jean-clad thighs with every step closer.

"We're on vacation, Spike," Xander said in a deep, hypnotic tone. His tread was silent on the beige carpeted floor as he prowled towards the blond. "Do you know what that means?"

"Er..." Spike swallowed audibly. "No?"

"It means..." Xander stopped in front of Spike's knees. " Buffy or Dawn..." He trapped Spike between his arms, hands pressed into the mattress on either side of Spike's lean form. " Willow and Tara..." He leaned closer. " mumblegrumble Giles..." Angled his head. " apocalyptic demons..." Licked his lips. " work..." Stared intently into Spike's huge blue eyes. "...and absolutely no interruptions."

"Oh?" Spike said a bit breathily. He licked his own lips, an aroused flush staining his cheeks.

"How would you liked to be kissed for a week straight?" Xander whispered in a possessive growl. Not waiting for an answer, he claimed Spike's mouth in a savage kiss, devouring the soft, moist lips beneath his. Without pause, he ravaged the blond with his lips and teeth and tongue, pulling mewls of pleasure from the vampire.

Spike fell back onto the bed, and Xander followed him down, not relinquishing his ownership of his boyfriend's lips. Framing the blond's head with his forearms, Xander angled his head more and feasted greedily on Spike's plaint, open mouth. He could stay forever with his lips permanently on Spike's, if things like breathing and eating weren't a necessity.

Spike inched up Xander's shirt, and his cool hands slid under the green cotton material. Xander moaned softly, like he always did when his shy boyfriend took the initiative. Comfort played a huge role in Spike's ability to do so, but it still took overcoming reservations about touching someone larger, deceptively stronger-looking, and wholly male.

Luckily, Spike's reservations had gone bye-bye, because Xander didn't know how he had lived without the vampire's fingers digging into his skin, or the taste of Spike's lips, or the way his unneeded breath would hitch when Xander first pressed their lower bodies together. [And he's mine. All. Mine.]

Xander reached down, hooked a hand behind Spike's knee, and pulled it up. Still kissing Spike, Xander dipped his knees, bringing the covered bulge in his trousers flush against the seat of Spike's jeans. Xander wanted to be in there, to pierce Spike with his body as the vampire had pierced his heart. He wanted to feel that leonine form arch and curl and shiver beneath his hands and lips, under and around his bare flesh. He wanted to brand Spike, to possess him in the most ancient of ways.

Xander rolled, swiftly and suddenly, putting Spike on top. He broke away from the vampire's lush mouth and pushed him upright. Disheveled and slightly debauched, Spike straddled Xander, dilated eyes staring hungrily down at the brunette.

With a flick of his wrist and a slight tug, Xander freed his prize. He stared greedily, visually caressing his lover. "Perfect," he declared in a gravelly tone.

"Xander," Spike protested, trying to cover himself, pink-cheeked with shy embarrassment and arousal.

"Don't," Xander growled. "I want to see you." He struck immediately, not giving Spike further time to protest. He put his hands where he wanted, did what he wanted, and watched while he did it. Spike cooperated soon after by rocking against him and on him [-I wish I was in him-] until a whimper tumbled from moist, kiss-bruised lips.

A back arched, a sharp breath was inhaled, and Xander needed a new pair of khakis. Shortly thereafter, he needed a new shirt, too. [Well, we did have to unpack.]

Xander giggled at the thought, and the slumped vampire straddling him tensed. "What?" Spike said warily, hands moving to cover himself again. [Sweet, self-conscious Spike.]

The brunette assisted in fixing Spike's jeans. "I was just thinking that this was one way to make us unpack," he said. He quirked a grin. "I'm glad I brought twice the amount of clothes for the week. I have a feeling I'm going to need them." [Getting Spike to blush is just so damned easy.]

With a kiss on the blond's nose, Xander upended his boyfriend and headed into the bathroom to clean up. When he re-emerged, Spike was busy unpacking. The small lunch cooler that had been hidden in the duffle was open on the floor beside the bed. Although Xander had wanted to bring more, Spike had insisted he could live on a single bag of human blood a day on their trip. Smuggling the blood on board hadn't been a problem, and the bags themselves would be easy to dispose of at sea.

At four o'clock, Xander left Spike "resting his eyes" in the cabin and went to attend the 'Welcome Aboard!' information program held in the very sunny Mandala Room. A raised platform, with a microphone ready to be used, sat at one end of the multi-windowed large room. Above it, strung from the ceiling, a colorful banner proclaimed: Sixteenth Annual Gay Couples Cruise. Green leafy plants in decorative pots were scattered here and there.

Xander chose an unoccupied seat at one of the many round tables and people-watched while he waited for the program to begin. [Or should I say 'men-watching,' considering the only women I've seen in here are on staff.]

About sixty percent of the men in the room looked like Joe Normal to Xander. He wouldn't know their sexual preferences if they weren't on this particular cruise. The other forty percent, though... [Are those pink poms on his clogs for real?] Xander goggled. Made a silent promise to commit suicide if he ever dressed like that. Glanced down at his loud blue and white palm tree-covered shirt and blinding yellow tee beneath it. Looked for the nearest exit, in order to throw himself overboard.

"Hi." A relatively normal [gorgeous] twenty-something, with neatly trimmed dark hair and smiling green eyes, stood beside the unoccupied chair next to Xander. "Do you mind if I join you?"

Xander gestured welcomingly. "Feel free."

"Thanks." He pulled out the chair and sat. "I'm Greg."

"Xander," Xander introduced himself with a smile. He looked around again, and found himself staring at Charo. Only this Charo had a banana in her skirt, rather than on her headdress. "Isn't this wild?"

"Very," Greg agreed. "First trip?"

"Yeah," Xander said, eyes tracking another of the forty percent. [Was that a human or a poodle?] "You?"

"Second," Greg replied, leaning closer to Xander to be heard over the boisterous laughter from a nearby table of men. "I had such a great time last year, I had to come again."

"That sounds promising," Xander commented.

"Most of the men I know who've been on this trip return every year," Greg continued, laying an arm along the back of Xander's chair. "So, did you come alone?"

"It's a couples cruise," Xander said, with a puzzled frown.

Greg smiled a pretty smile. "Then where's your other half of the couple?"

"Cabin," Xander answered, mentally slapping himself. He was being flirted with and he didn't even realize it. [Goes to show how long I've been out of commission.] "Spike's sleeping, most likely. We had to get up way early this morning to get here, and he's so not a morning person. Not much of an afternoon person, either." He grinned fondly. "What about yours?"

"Not here," Greg sighed. "We broke it off, but since I already had the reservations I decided to still come by myself."

"That's too bad," Xander said.

Greg shrugged. "It's okay. I'm not heartbroken." He smiled again. "And I know there's others on this ship in the predicament. Or couples looking for a third."

Xander ignored the hint. [Sorry, Green Eyes. Not interested. I'm a one-vampire man.] "Well, maybe you'll get lucky." He nodded towards the table beside them. "From what I've overheard so far, if you're interested in an orgy that puts Sodom to shame, find them on Monday night."

Greg laughed a pretty laugh. Xander couldn't help but chuckle, too. It felt weird, to be chatting with another guy about other guys again. It was December, a full year plus after his wild summer in Oxnard, and his only real contact with non-straight men in Sunnydale had been a flyer from the local GLBA. Spike didn't count. [He's not gay, he's shysexual. Snork.]

The 'Welcome Aboard!' program began, and conversation fell off. The perky woman on the platform at the front of the room started her presentation. She detailed the ship and staff, ports of call, and shipboard activities for those who wished to stay on board. Xander paid close attention when she got to the ship's nightlife. While he might sit on deck in the sun during the day, working on his skin cancer, Xander was planning to keep vampire hours on the cruise [along with my vampire.]

By the time the program was over, Xander was brimming with excitement. There was so much to do, he could strike the word boredom from his vocabulary on this trip.

Making non-committal plans to meet Greg for a drink later that week, Xander bounded back to the cabin and burst inside. "Spike! You would not believe all the stuff we can do on this trip," he said excitedly to the vampire lounging on the bed. Xander snagged the remote from Spike's hand and shut off the television. "There's jugglers and a magician and comedians and karaoke, which I won't do, but you sing sweet so we can still go if you want. Oh, and there's dance clubs with all types of music, from disco to swing to Top 40 to Caribbean, and they're open all night, every night. Do you even dance? I dance. Well, I flop around to the beat, anyway--"

"Xander," Spike interrupted amusedly, "breathe."

Xander stopped talking abruptly and sucked in a huge breath. He shot Spike an off-kilter grin. "Sorry. I'm just excited."

"I can see that." Spike leered, his eyes darting to Xander's crotch. The blush totally ruined the effect, though.

[My brave virgin.] Xander winked, and the vampire colored more. Making big strong manly vampires blush was fun.

"All right, blondie." Xander snatched a kiss before jumping over Spike and landing beside him on the bed. [One bed...] The brunette propped a pillow against the headboard and settled back comfortably. "We have a bunch of hours 'til the sun sets. Why don't we snooze through whatever's on TV until then, and then go exploring."

"Sounds like a plan." Spike grabbed the remote from Xander and turned on the television again. The satellite receiver made the picture come in crystal clear, which was a blessing. How would they survive their vacation without a television?

"Hey, look, Sherlock Homes," Spike said, landing on a station. "It's The Sign Of Four. Pretty scary stuff."

"Says the vampire," Xander teased. He lifted his arm and tucked the blond against him. Spike glanced up, smiled that heart-melting tiny smile of his, and snuggled closer. Xander sighed contentedly. [This is going to be a great vacation.]

The Love Boat: Formal Dinner