The Love Boat: Formal Dinner

by Saber ShadowKitten
Tiny Smiles 17b

A very butch female. That's what Spike looked like wearing a suit and tie. [Not that I will ever say that out loud,] Xander thought, straightening the knot in his own dark brown tie. It was Tuesday, the night of the first of two formal dinners on board the ship, and both men were wearing their nicest clothes. This was the first time they'd dressed up on the trip. The other nights, Xander had chosen to forgo the seated dinners in favor of room service or buffet meals, more for Spike's comfort than anything. Although the formal dinner was dressier than usual, sport coats were still required during the regular sit-down meals, and the vampire hated to dress up.

[I can see why.] Xander cast a sidelong glance at his boyfriend, who was working to untie a knot in the lace of his black wingtips. Spike was definitely not the suit type. Jeans, tee-shirts, long-sleeved tees, and the occasional button-down shirts were all good. Just wearing boxers was better. Naked was always the best. [Oh, yeah.] The suit, however, made Spike look... girly. The Big Bad had been replaced by the Big Fag. [Nope, I will never, ever, ever say that out loud.]

"Xanderrrr," Spike whined. "I can't get this bleedin' knot out."

Xander turned, held up his hands, and caught the shoe that was tossed to him. Spike, luckily, was not putting up a stink about having to attend the formal dinner. They'd been alternating nights on who chose what activities to do, and it was Xander's turn to pick. So far, they'd seen a comedian, the jugglers, and had been to a few of the dance clubs. The Jazz club had the best atmosphere for relaxing and conversing with other couples on board, and that's where Xander and Spike usually ended the night.

All the nights so far had been fun. The days, however, had been awesome. As the sun came up, Xander and Spike would slip into sleep, snuggled together beneath the covers in the single queen-sized bed.

The first day they'd had to share the bed had been awkward, and they'd started off laying rigidly on opposite sides of the bed. By mid-morning, it was impossible to tell where Xander ended and Spike began. And Xander liked it that way. [Changes will be taking place at home.]

Thus far, Spike awoke daily at the same time as Xander, mumbled a hello, sat up and leaned against the headboard, turned on the television, and promptly fell back to sleep. Xander usually left the cabin then and spent an hour or two on deck, giving his boyfriend ample time to fully awaken. Then, after Xander returned to the cabin, he and Spike spent the remainder of the daytime in bed doing naughty touching stuff. Very pleasurable naked naughty touching stuff. But no sex. [Wah.] Not that sex was the be all-end all of a relationship. Xander wanted simply to connect with Spike in the most primitive, intimate way.

[Uh-huh. Right. Face it, Harris, the fluffy feelings of wanting to connect have long since passed. Now, you just want to nail that virgin ass.]

Xander managed to untie the knot in Spike's laces and tossed the shoe back to the blond. He gave the vampire a once over, taking in the charcoal grey suit, white shirt, and deep red and grey striped tie. [Yep, he's gay.] Xander chuckled silently, tugged on the sleeves of his own dark brown suit, and pocketed his wallet and the room key. He struck a pose. "How do I look?"

"Like a talking chocolate bar."

"Goof," Xander laughed. He opened the cabin door and gestured grandly. "After you, Mrs. Xander Harris."

Spike rudely saluted, but bussed Xander on the cheek as he passed. Smiling happily, Xander closed the cabin door, and the two made their way to the formal dining room.

The dining room was rich in color, both burgundies and gold. Crisp white tablecloths covered the tables scattered around the room. Tea candles flickered in the low lighting, casting romantic shadows. The low murmur of mostly male voices was underscored by the faint strains of classical orchestral music from the string quartet playing in the corner.

A uniformed host greeted them just inside the glass double-doors etched with frosted flowers. Xander rested his hand on Spike's lower back as he gave the host his name and, with a gently guiding push, escorted his boyfriend to their table. Interested male glances were cast their way as they wove through the dining room, most of them directed at Spike despite his girlish appearance. Or maybe because of. Xander shot a black look at the most blatant oglers, growling under his breath. [My girly vampire.]

The host seated them at a four-person table, indicating that they would be joined by another couple. Xander nodded politely to the host, pulled out a chair, unbuttoned his dark brown suit coat, and sat. He'd purposely chosen his seat so Spike would take the chair by the wall and no one would be able to get to him. [Grr. Mine.] A waiter appeared at Xander's elbow to take drink orders and left again.

"Well, hi!" An overly-enthusiastic twang sliced through the quiet atmosphere of the dining room, earning startled glares. Xander stared as two rather large, pale men, wearing identical rhinestone-studded suits with fringe, took the chairs opposite him and Spike. "I'm Rick," the jowly grey-haired man on the left announced, "and my devilishly handsome companion is Steven." Steven giggled and waved.

"Uh... hi," Xander said slowly. He glanced at Spike. The vampire was staring at the newcomers like they were a pair of cute, fluffy puppies. [I haven't seen him look that disgusted since we were forced to watch Pippi Longstocking with Willow and Tara.] "I'm Xander, and this is Spike."

"It's a pleasure to meet you both," Rick twanged. He looked past Xander and boomed, "Can we get us a couple of Schlitz brewskies over here?"

"Rick, use your inside voice," Steven scolded, his own voice soft, but extremely deep.

"Sorry, dear," Rick apologized, patting Steven's chubby pale hand. He smiled jovially at Xander and Spike. "Sometimes I forget my manners, but Steven always reminds me of them."

The waiter brought the beers along with Xander and Spike's drinks. He informed the table that the meal would begin after the Captain made a toast.

"The Captain says the same thing every time," Steven confided, old brown eyes crinkling in the corners.

"You've been on this cruise before?" Xander asked, relaxing with his drink. If he had to sit with Boss Hogg and a white Barry White, he might as well make the best of it.

"Six times," Rick replied, ringed fingers wrapping around his beer glass. "Steven and I came on the cruise for our twelfth anniversary and had such a good time we've come every year since."

"Cool." Xander covered Spike's hand with his own. "This is our first trip."

Steven beamed. "How do you like it?"

"So far, so fun," Xander said. He frowned slightly when Spike yanked his hand away. The vampire was ignoring Xander, though, sipping his drink and looking around the dining room.

Xander continued to chat politely with Rick and Steven until the clink of a spoon against a glass halted further conversation. The dining room quieted. Xander half-turned in his chair to see the Captain as he made his toast. Out of the corning of his eye, Xander saw Steven and Rick silently mouthing along. A grin curled the corners of the brunette's lips. [I wonder if that'll be me and Spike in six years. If so, shoot me now.]

Dinner was a multi-course affair and really damn good, in Xander's opinion. Conversation ebbed and flowed as he and his table companions stuffed their faces. Xander was thoroughly enjoying himself. Spike, however, Xander noticed, was becoming more and more tense with every scrape of a fork. His replies to queries -- when he chose to reply at all -- were short, blunt answers. His movements were precise and controlled. He finished his drinks as rapidly as they arrived at the table.

"Oh, I was devastated when I heard," Steven was saying dramatically. "Tom and Nicole looked so good together."

"Rumor has it their marriage was a sham," Xander said, "and that he's as fruity as a bag of skittles."

Rick laughed. "That would make thousands of gay men everywhere quite happy."

"If you like them short, dark, and boyish," Steven interjected. He laid a hand over Rick's. "I prefer my men more distinguished."

"In other words, you like old farts like me," Rick teased.

"Not old...," Steven winked at Xander, "... well-preserved."

"That's it." Spike stood abruptly, tossed his cloth napkin on the table, and stalked from the dining room without another word.

Xander, with forkful of green beans halted partway to his open mouth, stared dumbly at Spike's retreating back until the frosted glass doors closed behind him. [Huh?] The brunette blinked twice and lowered his fork.

"Boy, someone isn't happy," Rick commented, craning his neck to look behind him. "I wonder what crawled up his craw."

"Me, too." Xander wiped his mouth, deposited his napkin beside his plate, and stood. "Excuse me."

Xander left the dining room in search of Spike. He checked the cabin first, then the various places Spike had vocally approved of. It took almost an hour, but Xander finally found the blond on the forward deck, hands braced on the guardrail, looking out over the dark ocean. There were other couples on deck, enjoying the romantic atmosphere, but Xander noted they made a wide berth around the vampire.

Xander walked up beside Spike and put his hand on the blond's back. "Hey, there. I've been looking all over for you."

Spike's head whipped around, and he snarled, "Shove off. I want to be alone."

Xander reared back, dropping his hand quickly. [Woah. Crabby vampire.] "Sorry," he placated. "I was just wondering if something was wrong."

"Nothing's wrong," Spike growled and returned his gaze to the ocean.

"Nothing, my ass." Xander was feeling suicidal and decided to push. [Must be the funeral clothes.] "You've been acting snippy ever since we sat down for dinner."

"You mean, when you sat down to dinner." Spike's fingers clenched on the rail. "I sat down with dinner."

"Um... what?" Xander didn't understand.

"I'm a bloody vampire, Xander, or did you forget that?"

"Uh, no, I haven't forgotten," Xander said tentatively, unsure of the correct answer.

Spike released a frustrated sigh, still staring out over the ocean. "Sometimes I really miss Dru. She would've understood."

[Ow.] Xander staggered a step as the word-spear pierced his heart. He turned to the water, grasping the guardrail in a white-knuckled grip. [Not gonna cry, not gonna cry, not gonna cry, not gonna cry...]

"Cor, I can practically taste the blood, spiced with adrenaline and fear," Spike continued, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was shredding Xander's heart. "Dru and I would've feasted in that dining room. Ruined all those pretty frocks and suits."

Xander blinked rapidly as his vision blurred. [...not gonna cry, not gonna cry, not gonna cry...]

"We would've had a ball on this cruise," Spike said wistfully. "A week of violence and death; Dru dancing under the stars like a dark goddess; locked in a cabin, shagging all day. Her needing me to hide the bodies. Her needing me to stop her from trying to swim with the fish. Her needing me to keep her from killing the humans who knew how to operate the ship. Her needing me to fulfill all her whims."

"Why did you let her go?" Xander croaked past the knot in his throat. "She wanted you back, in Sunnydale."

"That she did," Spike agreed, and fell silent.

[I'd thought we'd already settled this, with Drusilla. I guess I was wrong.] Xander was getting Indian Burn on his palms from gripping the rail so hard. His jaw was set, teeth clenched tightly to stop from asking questions he didn't want to hear the answers to. His eyes were watering, but he refused to allow the tears to fall.

"Xan..." A pale hand covered his tan one. "It was too much for me, sitting with the very humans that I'm supposed to eat. I tried, but..."

"Why did you even bother?" Xander grated out, slanting a look at Spike.

"It's your night to choose," Spike replied with a shrug, lightly tracing the bumps and dips of Xander's tense knuckles.

Xander turned his head and stared at the smaller man in confused shock. "That's it?"

Spike frowned. "Er, yes? We agreed to switch off picking what to do, complaints not allowed." He shrugged again. "Right, so I sort of broke that rule, but I'm evil and I do those things. At least I tried, eh?"

Xander gaped at him. A minute ago, Spike was bemoaning his Drusilla-less state, and now he was... he was... Xander had no idea what Spike was saying. "But... what about Drusilla?"

"What about her?" Now Spike seemed confused.

"You just said you wished she was here with you," Xander said, starting to get angry. He fully turned to face the blond.

Spike looked put out. "No, I said she'd understand."

"Same thing."

The vampire stared at him a moment, then smirked. "You're jealous."

Xander glowered. "Am not."

"You are," Spike said with a pleased chuckle. "You don't need to be, Xander."

"I'm not jealous; I'm pissed as hell. If you wanted to be with someone who 'understood,'" Xander sneered, complete with air quotes, "then why the heck didn't you go with Drusilla when you had the chance?"

"Didn't we have this effin' conversation already?" Spike tugged at the knot in his tie. "Told you, I loved you, git."


Spike's brows furrowed. "Why what?"

"Why do you love me?" Xander stared hard at the blond. "I'm not a vampire. I don't 'understand' your desire for death and destruction. I'm basically food in a walking package. A talking chocolate bar, right?"

"You're not food." Spike grabbed Xander forcibly by the arms. Ice blue eyes glittered in the deck's dim light. "You're... sunlight and laughter and warmth. You're safety. I can suck my thumb when I need to without worrying about my image or status. I can come home seriously injured and I know you'll patch me up. I can act like the scared little virgin boy I am, rather than having to be Mr. 'Seen-All, Done-All, I'm-Not-Impressed.' With you, I don't have to be a master vampire. I can just... be."

Tears filled Xander's eyes again, only this time not in hurt or anger.

"Xander," Spike continued, his voice dropping, though it was no less intense. "Drusilla needed me, but you love me. And for that, I'd chose you every time." He dropped his hands, cleared his throat, and looked decidedly embarrassed. "Now, are we done with the subject?"

Xander's smile was trembly. "We're done. Insecure womanly feelings reassured."

"Good." The vampire looked around and, apparently satisfied, snagged Xander's tie, yanked him down, and planted a hard, possessive kiss on his lips.

Soft clapping roused Xander from his kiss-induced stupor. He blinked several times and the world refocused. Spike was looking at someone to their left [don't look at them, look at me.] When Spike didn't listen to his silent order, Xander sighed a small, unhappy sigh at the interruption and turned to look, too. It was Rick and Steven, the Rhinestone Cowboys from dinner. [Joy.]

"You two are so precious," Steven declared. He waves his ringed hand. "Don't they remind you of us when we were newlyweds, Rick?"

"Sure do," Rick replied. "You can almost see the love in the air."

"I bet you can taste it in their blood, too," Steven said eagerly. "Shall we find out?"

"That sounds like a right good idea," Rick agreed. He and Steven looked at each other, smiled evilly, and... sprouted facial ridges and fangs.

Xander and Spike burst out laughing, and Xander continued to laugh as the blond slid into gameface and threw a surprised Rick and Steven overboard. The brunette laughed as they made their way off the deck and through the passageways to their cabin. He laughed as he locked the door and laughed as he stripped Spike out of his very un-Spike-like suit.

Then, Xander was much too busy moaning to laugh.

The Love Boat: Cliched Romance