Chapter 13: Talk

Chapter 13: Talk

Xander met Oz as he was coming into the house. Oz was going out, his instrument case in his hand, keys dangling from his fingers.

"Hey Oz."

"Hey. Gonna go hang with Devon and the band, maybe practice a little."

"Sure - that's cool. See you later." Oz grinning and bouncing down the walk to his van, Xander pushing inside, dropping his tool belt, wondering if there were any sodas left in the fridge. Spike in the kitchen, smoking and eating toast, methodically buttering and then spreading jam and crunching noisily. He'd already lit some candles for the kitchen, and the rest of the house was dim, the saffron light of the westering sun making glowing haloes around the edges of the curtains but not providing much illumination. The radio on, playing something full of brassy horns, women singing:

"He makes the company jump when he plays reveille...
He's the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B..."

Xander walked up behind Spike and put both hands on his shoulders - bent down to kiss his neck and the soft skin just behind his ear. Spike turned his face up, slim hands reaching and pulling Xander in for a kiss, butter and crumbs and blackberry jam, sticky-sweet, lush. Xander sighed happily into the kiss and Spike twisted in his chair, turning around so they were face to face, pulling Xander down into his lap and really kissing. *Ohhh, that's so* Xander slid his hands up under Spike's t-shirt, caressing the cool back, feeling ribs and spine and shoulder blades, stark under the satiny skin. Spike's hands were on Xander's hips, his fingers slipping into the waistband of his jeans in the back, just brushing with his fingers at the swell of muscle - the little dip at the very top of Xander's buttocks, sliding into the crease there.

*Nice, nice, oh, just...*

*Said you weren't gonna get distracted. Things to talk about?*

*Right. Talk. Ohh, fuck...* Xander reluctantly pulled away. Spike was smiling at him - a small, sweet smile that was so very different from the usual expressions - the smirk or the sneer or the arrogant amusement. This smile was...relaxed. Real. Xander couldn't help but smile back.

"What, love?" Spike asked, and Xander reached to touch his cheek - run his fingers back through hair still mussed from the bed.

"I like your real smile. Spike..." Xander sighed and looked down at the pale hands on his thighs that lightly kneaded the muscle there. Fresh coat of black nail-polish and a little cut on one knuckle, nearly healed. And the eyeliner again, smudgy black that made the blue eyes wider, more vivid.

"Yeah, pet?" Anxiety - fear? shot through the link and Xander looked up sharply, catching the same things in the wide blue eyes before Spike shut it down.

"Tell me about this. This - link? You said...that night you came back that 'it worked'. What worked?" Xander clasped his hands on the back of Spike's neck and leaned back a little, rubbing crotch to crotch. The change in angle sent a little shock through his groin and he felt it from Spike, too - sudden darkening of the eyes and *want want* clear as day.

"It's something that happens when you - we - share blood. I drank from you, you drank from me. It makes a link - a bond. Get's stronger if we keep doin' it, the blood sharin'. It'll never go away but if we never did that again it'd get...weaker." Spike lifted his hips just a little, and Xander grinned.

"So - why? I mean, why does that - work that way?"

"Dunno, pet. Just does. If you were my...if you were like a minion, like a thrall, then I could keep track of you - make you do stuff. I could...hurt you through it. But you're..."

"You can control me that way?" Xander frowned at him, and Spike huffed in annoyance.

"No love, if you were already controlled. Look - sometimes a vampire'll need a human for something - for work in the day, or protection. Somebody to run errands, take care of money. It happened a lot more before - when there wasn't phones and 24-hour shops and the bloody Internet, you know? Somebody to take care of the soddin' horses an' hire the maids. Don't need to do it so much, now. Most never do it. Angelus did, once or twice, for Dru. Before she turned me. She needed lookin' after." Spike looked at him uncertainly, as if mention of Drusilla were off-limits, and Xander sent *want want* right back at him, grinding his hips a little, rubbing his fingers up and down the nape of Spike's neck. The hair there was like raveled silk, the skin even softer, and Spike shut his eyes and pushed into the caress.

"Ok. So it's just a really nice extra. Stronger like - I'll be able to feel you further away, or stronger like...we can read each other's minds?" Spike didn't open his eyes, just started up that rusty, thready grumble in his chest. Xander almost laughed, watching Spike purr and rub his head into Xander's hands, so cat-like it was ridiculous. *Wonder if they're related, cats and demons. Wonder if he'd like a saucer of milk?* A sudden image of Spike on his hands and knees, black collar around his neck and tongue going out to lap... Xander shivered and Spike gasped, eyes opening wide.

"Somebody's thinkin' nasty thoughts..." he husked, and ground his hips up, holding Xander tight to him, denim and heat and hard flesh.

"Mmmm...wanna bowl of milk, kitty kitty?" Xander whispered, and Spike leaned up and nipped at his throat, making Xander's breath catch.

"M'not a cat," Spike grumbled, the purring starting to peter out. Xander felt a smile stretching his mouth, every bit as lascivious as the one Spike usually wore.

"No, but you'd look good in a collar..." Spike raised an eyebrow - leaned in to nip at Xander's throat again, hands going down the back of Xander's jeans, kneading his buttocks, pulling him open.

"Why pet - what a nasty little idea." Spike's fingers were going lower, groping and sliding, trying to find entry, and Xander tangled his hands in the silver-blond hair and tipped Spike's head back, claiming his mouth in a frenzied, demanding kiss. *We'll never find out what we want to find out* the soldier grumbled, and Xander couldn't help it, he had to laugh. Spike squeezed his buttocks, and one fingertip just brushed over the sensitive skin of Xander's opening.

"What's funny, pet?" Xander laughed again, soft, leaning his forehead to Spike's.

"Just - I've got the soldier in my head trying to make me stop kissing you."

"What?" Spike looked a little shocked, pulling back to look straight into Xander's eyes. "Don't he like this?" That finger again, probing in a bit, just breaching the muscle, making Xander shiver.

"Oh yeah, he likes. But I was gonna talk to you when I got home. Ask some questions... Oh..."

"You wanna talk?" Spike didn't sound pissed, just...amused, and a little puzzled. Abruptly he pulled his hands out of Xander's jeans and stood, steadying Xander as he stumbled a little, getting his feet under him in a hurry.

"What - "

"Strip," Spike said, and there was that smile, the one Xander had been trying out a minute ago. *Oh, I think he does it better, much better...* Xander just stared at Spike, who turned and went into the bedroom. Then Xander started to strip, yanking at his boots and shucking out of his jeans. There was the sound of a drawer opening and closing - the rustle of clothes - and Spike stalked back into the kitchen naked, grinning. He moved like oil on water, all smooth and glide and soundless, head down and eyes gone the color of the sea at twilight. Looking up at Xander through his lashes - looking at Xander as if he was going to eat him alive. The eyeliner made him look like an Egyptian prince - or a pirate. What was coming through the link was mindless *want* and it made Xander shiver. Sparks of pure lust tingled over Xander's skin, and he took in a deep, deep breath. Spike sprawled back down in his chair, a tube of gel in his hand. He opened it and squeezed some out - slowly slicked himself with it, dragging his fingers down the length of his shaft and up - back down to cup his balls and fondle them, then up again, circling the tip of his cock and smearing the pearl of pre-come that was there over the head. Xander watched, his own hands wandering over himself, one hand going to his chest to tease his nipples into peaks, the other just lightly stroking his own erection. His finger came away wet, and he saw Spike staring - saw the tip of the vampire's tongue come out between his teeth. Xander stepped up closer and put his finger to Spike's mouth - gasped as the cool, wet flesh took his finger in to the base; sucking and licking, tiny scrape of teeth. *Oh man, oh FUCK, he is so...*

"S-Spike..." Spike let his finger go - reached up and captured Xander's hand and squeezed more lube out, onto Xander's fingers.

"Turn around, pet. Turn around and bend over and make yourself ready for me. Wanna watch..." His voice was low, rasping - breathless - and Xander felt a heavy pulse of arousal go through him - knew his cock was leaking freely now, felt the twisty little fire in his belly that would build and build. *Fuck, his voice...could come just from that...yeah, turn around* Xander caught a shaky breath and turned - bent over, one hand reaching back to pull himself open, the other slicked and ready, teasing himself, sliding a fingertip in and making shallow little thrusts, twisting. He moaned, panting, and heard Spike shift in the chair. Xander pushed the finger in deeply, shuddering, then a second finger, feeling his hips start that rise and fall, wanting *oh, touch me, Spike, come on...fuck...*

"Xanderrrr... " Spike groaned, and Xander added a third finger, pumping now, and suddenly Spike was pulling at him, turning him, and his fingers slid out. Spike pulled him over his lap, holding his cock steady, his eyes gone golden and his chest moving with hitching, needless breaths.

"Come on - take me fuckin' lovely, Xander..." Xander put his hands on Spike's shoulders and lowered himself, stopping when he felt the tip of Spike's cock pushing at him. He took a deep breath and leaned to catch Spike's mouth with his, kissing hard, biting at the vampire's lips. And pushed down, one smooth, hard push that engulfed Spike; the cool flesh easing the burn a little, Spike's mouth gasping helplessly under his, his body arching up as Xander went down, ruthlessly. *fuck, hurts good, oh man,

oh...FUCK...* Xander felt his buttocks on Spike's thighs - felt the full length of the vampire inside him, the stretch and burn of it just a part of the fire, the delicious fire in his belly, his balls. He sat frozen for a moment, just breathing, lips open against Spike's, hands trembling on Spike's shoulders, eyes shut. Spike's hands were on his hips, tight and cool, anchoring him, and when he started to move, to ride up, the hands held him down.

"Spiiike..." low, needy, ragged.

"You wanna talk, love. So talk. What do you. Wanna talk about?" Spike wasn't any better, the words coming out in separate mouthfuls of air, voice gone husky and low. Xander clenched inner muscles, rolling his hips a little. Spike took in a hard breath, and his fingers tightened on Xander's hips, hurting a little. "Xander..." he warned, and Xander opened his eyes. *need need...fuck, let me...* Spike was staring at him, demon-eyed, grinning. *Oh, gonna get him for this...* Xander gulped in a breath and let one hand slip down Spike's chest, to rub and pinch at the pale nipples. Spike lost his grin.

"What about - this link. Gets stronger?"

"Yeah. To a point. Then it'll stop unless...oh..." Xander dragged his teeth over Spike's throat, nipping, and Spike shuddered, his own hips rolling up involuntarily, driving in a little deeper and Xander tried to wiggle around, to get more.

"Unless what?" Xander bit at the cool, pale flesh *like expensive vanilla ice cream...mmmm...* started licking in broad strokes, throat and jaw, back down to shoulders, alternating little bites. Every time his teeth nipped, Spike would move, thrust just a little, and it was heaven and it was driving Xander crazy.

"U-unless we...make it p-permanent." Spike gasped, and Xander sat up *oh gods, ohh niice...*

"Permanent how?" Spike stared at him, tongue going out to lick his lips, hips just moving, undulating, and Xander leaned back a little, doing his own little hip-roll thing, letting his slippery hand drop down to his cock, to glide up and back, just once. Spike watched him - looked back up into his eyes.

"There's a spell. S'real...sssimple. Makes the mark - permanent. Makes you mine forever. Claims you. Marks you...for every vamp...every demon to see. Nno...turning back." Spike bucked under him, and Xander braced on his shoulders again, ready to move, to have more. And the hands tightened again, stilling him.

"Oh fuck, Spike, please..." Spike just looked at him, and one of his hands slid over Xander's belly to his cock, fingers just fluttering around it, moth-touches.

"Talking still," Spike said, and Xander tried to gather his thoughts a little. Sent *want want need you love you* spilling the physical into the link and watching Spike react to it, eyes going wide, mouth open in gasping breaths.

"A spell...marks me...what Marks you, too?"

"Yeah. Same. Marked - bound - linked...forever...aahhhh..." Spike was moving again, his hand loosely gripping around Xander's cock, and Xander braced his feet and moved, up and back, hard as he could. The wonderful slip and drag of flesh inside him, making him open and hot and *there, just there, ohh, again ...* He was gasping, panting. Spike was motionless under him now, hands back on Xander's hips but helping this time, lifting him, pushing him down. Hard and harder, flesh impacting flesh, loud enough to drown out the radio, insistent as a heartbeat. They moved together, hands and mouths licking and stroking and mauling, teeth biting. Spike's hand tight on Xander's cock, pumping and squeezing and his other hand clawing at Xander's back and Xander's own fingers digging into Spike's shoulders, making bruises, a ragged nail drawing blood so that Spike hissed and craned up to bite Xander's mouth, lips, tongue. He was suddenly the demon, the strangely rigid flesh solid against Xander's throat, the fangs prickling and prickling. Xander gasping and then Spike's hand slipping behind to tease the straining flesh around the vampire's cock, to push inside Xander a little, more friction, more there, and Xander threw back his head and yelled and Spike bit, striking snake. Fangs like brands, cascade of lightning, fire in Xander's veins and up through his cock and spattering on the heaving belly and chest pressed to him. Xander felt Spike withdraw the fangs, lick and lick at the wound, and then Spike's wrist at his gasping mouth, wetness there, and Xander bit heedlessly, deeply, and Spike roared, arching up into him, pounding into him as Xander drank the blood that flowed out. Sparks on his tongue; the blood tasting rich and spice and cool... *never give this up, never give him you love you* Finally Spike's body slowed - his wrist dropped away and Xander leaned into him, gasping, feeling the vampire's belly heaving under him, feeling the dying twitches of the final moment of orgasm in him, pleasurable little twinges through his groin. The pounding of his blood in his ears began to slow, and the radio was suddenly clear, and Xander started to laugh.

"What..." Spike gasped, and Xander pushed himself up a little, quick kiss to the scarlet, swollen lips.

"This song..." he said, and laughed again, and sighed, and draped himself over Spike, chest to chest, arms around his neck.

"Isn't it romantic
Merely to be young on such a night as this?
Isn't it romantic?
Every note that's sung is like a lover's kiss.
Sweet symbols in the moonlight,
Do you mean that I will fall in love perchance?
Isn't it romance

"What - getting fucked on a kitchen chair isn't romantic?" Spike laughed, too, and Xander hugged him.

"Can we do it?"

"Do what, love?" Xander sat up, Spike shifting inside him, more tiny sparks up his spine, down his thighs.

"Can we do the spell? Make it - permanent?"

Spike stared at him, the hands that had been rubbing slowly up and down Xander's back frozen at his shoulder blades. Nothing at all came through the link.

*Oh FUCK, didn't think about that at ALL...fuck's sake...what if he says no - bound to say no - damnit, DAMNIT.*


"Fuck, Spike - sorry, I'm sorry, I should think first, you don't wanna - "

"Hush, pet." Spike's hands moved again, jerkily - up Xander's back to his shoulders, to his face, cupping his jaw, fingers delicate on his cheeks, thumbs just under his lower lip, pressing lightly.

"Spike, I - "

"Do you - really? Really want to?" Spike asked - whispered - and Xander saw it, saw the look. A look he'd seen in the mirror for years. His own look, so familiar. Hope. Desperate, desperate need. Suddenly the link slammed open as Xander poured everything out - everything he'd been feeling for two years - all of the longing, the loneliness, the need. A rush of emotion that seemed to physically strike the vampire, knock him back in the chair and shake him. Spike took in a hard, shaking breath, and then it was Xander's turn to be knocked back by the flood of emotion so strong it was almost tangible. *love love want need always you always want mine mine MINE* And they were kissing, each as if the other were the last breath, the last drop of water, the last solid thing in a flood, and Xander felt tears threatening, and felt them, cool and slippery on Spike's lips.

"Oh, we're a pair, we are. Love you, Xander. We can do it, anytime. Anytime you want."

"Love you. Fuck." Xander wiped at his face - used his thumbs to wipe the moisture off of Spike's cheeks as well, smiling shakily and wanting to leap up and scream and jump and act like a fool. He sent it through the link instead, wild leaping joy and delight, possession and wonder, want, and Spike laughed aloud.

"Still wanna talk, pet?"

"Mmmm...yeah. What - " Xander rubbed his hands over Spike's shoulders and down his arms - stopped at his wrists and held them. *Thin, they're a girls, but he can punch through a wall - through a rib-cage... * "What about - Angel. Are you...ok?" Spike shivered a little, turning his wrists in Xander's grasp - not fighting at all as Xander slowly lifted Spike's arms up and over his head - held Spike's wrists together behind his head and lightly brushed his lips over Spike's face; cheeks and forehead, nose and eyes, chin and jaw and lips - not kissing, just...knowing.

"He knew. 'Bout the soldiers. 'Bout what they did. Xanderrr... " Xander let his tongue flicker out and trace Spike's lips - pulled back when Spike tried to press their mouths together.

"What love?"

"Kiss me...just..." Xander kissed him - soft, soft; delicate touch of tongue to upper lip, darting at his teeth, no pressure. Xander leaned his chest on Spike's and felt Spike shift in him, hardening again, pushing at him from the inside.

"He knew. Knew?"

"Yeah. Didn't care. Didn't...try to help. I - he ended it, love. He didn't...come for me. Didn't care. Left me again, just like before. Said he would - kill me. He's not - we're not..."

"No more claim on you," Xander said, and brought Spike's arms back down - settled them around his own waist and then sighed as Spike hugged him close.

"No more claim. He could try, but...the demon - won't recognize him." Spike looked up at Xander, his eyes flickering, watching. Xander pushed himself up and let his fingers run over Spike's collarbones and throat - down again to his chest, rubbing with the backs of his fingers and then with fingertips, over and over the erect nipples, the ripple of muscle and bone along the vampire's ribs, across his sternum and down his belly. The gold-green murk of the shuttered house like a gauze, making the edges of things blurred, making the sharp-edged beauty of the pale body under Xander softer - ethereal.

"What are you doing to me, love, what..." Spike whispered, and Xander glanced up at him, smiling just a little.

"Knowing you. Learning you." *loving, loving you...want every inch of you* Spike closed his eyes and started to move, sinuous rise and fall, and Xander moved as well, slow rhythm of hip and thigh, rocking and sliding. They were both silent, blind to each other, knowing only skin, only breath and wet touch of tongue. Xander felt the heat gathering in his belly, the tug and push in him of Spike. The vampire's cool flesh was soothing to him; under his thighs, against his chest and inner arms, against his neck where Spike mouthed the bite mark. Their orgasms built slowly as they both shifted and strove and gasped, and when they came it was silent; each with their arms around the other, tight enough to hurt. Earthquake of flesh running through them both, ringing through them as if their bones were hollow.

After a while they managed to pry themselves apart and stumble into the bathroom, and while they were drying off from a shower Xander thought of another question.

"Spike - how am I managing...all this sex? I know I'm a healthy young man - " he grinned when Spike snapped his towel at him. "But"

"My blood. Vampire's are the fuck all night and all day kind, and you've been getting my blood, so... you're getting a little of that too, pet. And healing just a little faster. S'why you're not all dizzy and tired when I drink from you." Xander thought about that.

"You don't take that much blood. Do you?" Spike tossed his towel at the towel-bar and missed, and cocked an eyebrow at Xander.

"No, I don't. But you lot are fragile. My blood makes you a bit tougher. You're not a demon, but you're not quite... the same as the other boys, anymore." Uncertainty was in Spike's voice, and Xander hung his own towel up, and regarded Spike's.

"Ok. Another plus, like the link. And I'm not picking up your towel." Xander's stomach suddenly made the most obnoxious noise possible, and they both laughed, heading for the bedroom.

"Guess it's pizza time," Xander said, grabbing an old pair of faded jeans. Spike's hands on his wrists stopped him.

"Let's go out someplace, eh? I'll buy you a steak. You eat too much pizza."

"You wanna - go out?" Xander just stood there, and Spike shifted a little, looking uneasy now, his hands fiddling with the buttons on his own jeans.

"I - yeah. Want some real food, want some wine, want to see you being treated nice. Me an' Dru - she loved to go out to the posh places; get all dolled up, get treated like a queen..." Spike looked at Xander, his head a little to one side, his expression serious. "You don't want to?"

"Yeah, I - I guess I do. I'm just...I don't want any of the gang..." Spike smirked at him, stepping up close to kiss him.

"Don't worry about them, pet. We'll go someplace they can't afford - won't be anywhere near us. We'll go to Calisto's. That suit you?"

"Calisto's? Wow. Umm...think I can eat without embarrassing myself?" Xander felt a little flutter of nerves in his belly. It was definitely an expensive place - one he'd never set foot in, and never hoped to.

"Wouldn't embarrass me if you ate with your fingers, love." Spike kissed him again and finished dressing; jeans and Docs and t-shirt, and Xander just looked at him.


"Will they let us in, dressed in jeans and stuff? I've got a suit but it's - it's damn ugly."

"Nah - got a dress code an' all there. We'll go shopping first."

"Shopping? Ummm...Spike. Do you have a fever?" Xander made a show of putting his hand on Spike's forehead, making a worried face, and Spike poked him in the ribs.

"Stop that. I wanna take you out someplace, we both have to dress nice to go there, so we go buy some posh gear. Dolly, love."

"Uh. Dolly?" Spike just looked at him, then rolled his eyes.

"Simple, love. Right?"

"Right. Ok. Shopping." Xander finished dressing and did a quick check of the doors while Spike made a phone call and blew out candles. Then he tried to talk Xander into wearing a little liner. Xander just laughed.

"I am so not the eye-liner type, Spike. That's for the drop-dead gorgeous evil undead and the quirky musician types. I'm a manly Construction Man type. I'd look silly." Spike just shook his head, reaching to pet Xander's hair *beautiful sexy mine* so soft through the link. Making Xander shiver. *Me. That's me he's thinking that about.* Xander made sure the spare key was on the porch for Oz *Need to do something about that - gotta remember*

"So, we're off to the hell of the 24-hour Super-"

"No! I mean, no. Go downtown - that place near the post office? Can't remember what it's called..." Spike lit a cigarette and looked thoughtful, and Xander tried to remember what was near the post office. *Lucky Garden. Shoe repair. That place that sells sewing machines. The dress shop Cordy was working in and... Oh.*


"Right. They've got posh stuff there - nicked me a shirt outta there once - Dru burned my old shirt."

"Really? I can't imagine. Could it be because you...oh...wore the same damn shirt for three years?"

"It got washed, pet. She had some spell or other she was trying out. Didn't work, though - just torched me shirt."

"Yeah, right, spell. I'll have to remember that one, " Xander teased. *Can't believe I'm joking around with him about Drusilla. Too weird.*

"Speaking of shirts...what was that, last night? Your clothes were all bloody - "

"Hellmouth, love. Always something to kill, isn't there?" Spike flicked his cigarette butt out the window and Xander nodded. Yes, there was, but... Xander decided to leave that alone, for now.

*Coward, Harris.*

*No, just...selfish. I can'tů*

Brennermans was a rather high-end men's shop, and Xander remembered looking in the windows from time to time, thinking mostly that he wouldn't be caught dead in white pants and matching sweater. *Hope it's not white pants...uh...season. Really don't like that.* They pulled up in front of the store, and Xander was happy to see there were no other customers so close to closing time.

It took almost twenty minutes to find clothes that both Spike and the clerk agreed on, and Xander felt vaguely foolish trotting out of the dressing room in this or that 'ensemble'. But he had to admit that the final choice looked good. He looked - like a grown-up. Dark charcoal trousers that the clerk said were Irish Linen, as if they were the Holy Grail. And a thin, v-necked cashmere sweater, a creamy almost-white that made his construction-worker tan look darker and his hair almost black. He pushed the sweater sleeves up and held out his arms and Spike clapped his hands.

"Perfect, love. We'll take those, then. Gotta wear 'em out, though, so lets get those tags off."

"Wear them out?" the clerk - Robert - inquired, stepping up with a tiny pair of scissors. Robert's dark-blond hair was streaked in about five other shades of blond and worn in a floppy style that Xander associated with various chick-flicks he'd been forced to watch with Willow and Buffy.

"Movin', aren't we? An' just realized tonight all the good stuff's in boxes and probably a bloody mass of wrinkles." The clerk nodded and smiled and snipped tags. Spike disappeared into a changing room and came out a few minutes later in black trousers of the same linen and a red silk shirt.

"Spike! No way."

"What, pet? This looks good on me."

"Well yeah, but - remember Drusilla? The 'spell'?" Xander made little air quotes with his fingers.

"Yeah... " Spike seemed puzzled.

"Well, I know why she burned your shirt, ok?" Robert made a small, strangled sound, and Xander smothered a laugh. "Get anything but red. I mean - I'm getting dress shoes here - the dreaded loafer! You can wear something besides red." Spike scowled at him and Robert stood back, one hand to his mouth, looking at Spike critically. Then he turned to Xander and they both spoke at the same time.


"Now love - " Robert scurried off and Xander walked over to Spike, smoothing the sweater over his chest. Spike watched his hands - reached out when Xander was close enough and did the same, closing his eyes a little. Spike, Xander had discovered, was rather...intrigued...with the ultra-soft cashmere.

"Just think how nice that'd feel on...mmmm...various other...places..." Xander let his fingers brush lightly over Spikes' groin and the vampire made a tiny whimpering sound.

"Xan-derrrr... " Spike purred, and Xander swayed in close to him, lips just touching...

"Here we are!" Robert trilled behind them, and Xander jumped. Robert was holding another silk shirt over his arm, but this one was a deep, deep slatey blue - almost a gun metal color - and Xander knew it would be perfect. Spike just stared at it for a moment, a little dazed, and then he shrugged out of the red one and pulled on the other.

"I knew it!" Robert crowed, and Xander smoothed the shoulders of the shirt, smiling. It was perfect - it made Spike's pale skin look like alabaster and it made his eyes so blue they seemed electric. His hair even had a more silvery sheen to it in contrast to the shirt.

"Totally...edible," Xander whispered, and Spike's eyes flashed gold at him for a second.

"Right. We'll take the red one, too, and another of these sweaters here - "

"Shoes, Spike, " Xander said, grabbing Spike's duster - and the money in its pocket - and herding Spike towards the shoe racks. Robert followed Spike with his scissors and Xander piled all their clothes on the counter, folding the jeans and t-shirts into a neat pile. Spike still had a huge - to Xander at least - amount of money left from the bag he'd had stashed in his crypt. He'd given half of it to Xander - told him to put it in his bank or in a jar or whatever and use it when he needed it. He could always get more. Xander had looked at him and nodded and not thought terribly hard about where the 'more' would come from. *In for a penny in for a pound. Or so they say.*

In a few minutes Spike and Robert were back with the extra shirts, and Spike was wearing...well, they were a bit more bootish then the shoes Xander had chosen, but they were definitely not Docs. Robert had them rung up in minutes, everything tucked away in silver and cream striped bags. Spike pulled his duster on and they left, heading across town to Calisto's. It was a Greek restaurant, near the back of the UC Sunnydale campus. The surrounding neighbor hood was quiet, tree-lined, and expensive. The Dean of the University lived there, as well as a number of the professors and, Xander was sure, Cordelia's old house was around there somewhere.

Xander parked and they walked to the restaurant, and Xander couldn't keep the smile off his face. Spike looked - amazing. Totally different, but his essence - his predatory self - was there for all the world to see in the way he walked, and smiled, and looked at you with eyes like cobalt fire. Xander felt the slow heat of arousal wakening in him and fought it, not wanting to embarrass himself. A sudden blast of *hot want* from Spike made him groan. Spike caught his hand and laughed at him.

The restaurant was crowded and Xander didn't think they'd get a table, but then a familiar-looking person bustled up with menus and a big smile, and they were seated in minutes.

"Spike," Xander whispered. "The maitre d' looks kinda like...Clem. Only not so floppy."

"Yeah. Cousin. Clem's got lots of family. How we got a table on such short notice." Spike grinned at him and he grinned back, and then the ouzo came, tiny measures of liquor tasting strongly of licorice. Xander wasn't sure if he liked it or not. The tables had real linen cloths on them and candles in colored glass holders and Spike glowed. *How'm I gonna even eat? He looks you love you*

And Spike smiled back, his eyes blazing in the candlelight.

He'd wanted steak - or at least - he'd thought he wanted it, but Spike had read the menu and described everything to him and it had all sounded so different and so good that Xander had ended up letting Spike order for him. First were stuffed grape leaves and a salad with cucumbers and feta cheese. Then fish-and-lemon soup, octopus with rice and lamb with tomatoes. Spike annoyed the waiter by insisting on no garlic, and Xander just smiled and ate, amazed at the new and interesting flavors, amazed that he was liking octopus and fish soup. *It's the clothes. You're ACTING like an adult, too. Willow would be so proud* The thought of Willow made Xander frown for a moment, and then Spike launched into a story about him and Dru in Greece, on the train from Athens to Patras to take a ship to Italy. Their waiter eavesdropped, doing a poor job of busing an adjoining table. Xander was fairly certain that Spike edited out quite a bit of the eating of the other travelers and the terrorizing of the staff, but by the time Spike was finished, the chubby old man who'd been so annoyed over the garlic was beaming and nodding and patting Spike on the shoulder, all pretense of not listening gone. He talked to Spike a mile a minute in Greek and Spike talked back to him, not looking even remotely like he wanted to tear the man's throat out. The waiter finally waddled away, and Xander looked at Spike in astonishment.

"I didn't know you could speak Greek, Spike."

"Well, you pick things up, you know? Comes in handy, pet. It's not hard to learn languages - you should try some time." Spike picked at the last bit of his lamb, and Xander stiffened in his seat when he felt a socked foot rubbing his ankle.

"Uh...languages? No - not me. French in high school was hard enough." Spike snorted, his toes wiggling up Xander's pant-leg.

"High-school French. Not the same thing. You learn it by speaking it, not just staring at a bloody book full of it. You pick something sometime that I can speak and I'll teach you some. Demon language, maybe." Xander just stared at him, and tried to ignore the agile toes that were inching along his inner thigh.

For dessert there were baked quinces *I don't even know what a quince is, but I like it* and then they were done. The waiter came by with a package wrapped in brown paper and shoved it into Spike's hands, all the while talking and smiling and bobbing. Spike answered him, smiling faintly. They left money on the table and walked out.

"Hold this for me pet?" Spike asked, and handed the package to Xander. Spike lit a cigarette and slipped his arm around Xander's waist and they strolled back to the truck. The moon had set long ago, and in the clear vault of the sky the stars seemed to be just barely out of reach, like Christmas lights strung across a ceiling.

"What was up with the waiter, Spike? Another cousin?"

"Nah. He heard me talking and was excited because he's from Patras. Wanted to reminisce."

"Hmmm. That was nice of you. To talk to him."

"Sure. Got us free baklava." Spike tapped the package and Xander looked at it.

"What's that?"

"Ohh, pet, you've never had it? Honey and butter and nuts and pastry...better then any bloody Twinkie."

"Better then Twinkies? Never!" Spike just turned his head a little and kissed him, and they stole kisses off each other all the way to the truck. And all the way home. *This is so weird. Is this Spike? Is this what expensive clothes and good food does to vampires?* Xander laughed to himself at that - expensive clothes hadn't made Angel easy to be around.

Oz was still gone when they got there, and the baklava barely made it to the kitchen counter uncrushed. After a while, in the bedroom:

"I've never actually been asked to put clothes back on, even by Cordelia."

"C'mon pet. Please?"

"Ok...wait..." There were several minutes of quiet rustling and breathing.


"You really like that, huh? How "


"Spike...fuck...ahhh... " Panting, gasping, and creaks from the bed, and then, slowly, silence.

"Damn. This has to be dry-cleaned, doesn't it? You are taking it in and handing it to the person behind the counter."

"Mmmm...anything, pet. Where's the other sweater?"




The Andrews Sisters - Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

Ella Fitzgerald - Isn't It Romantic

Prologue Xander doesn't really remember 'when it changed'