Wow. No idea where this came from. Oh well, hope you like it.
Rating: I'll say R
Warnings: All human AU.
Summary: Spike's may have a crappy job but at least he's got one interesting customer.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Seriously. This isn't even my computer.
Feedback: I'll get down on my knees. And I'll beg too. *wink*
The sun dipped low and sprayed acid orange streaks across the blacktop. Spike shielded his eyes from the rays with a cupped hand and coughed thickly as he snubbed out his cigarette in the patches of dirt sprinkling the weedy field like a fucked-up Dalmatian. He adjusted his jacket and tried to catch some of the rivulets of sweat running down his back that made his shirt stick to him when he stood up. It was really too hot for leather but the guys had assured him the jacket was bad ass and if the guys liked it, Spike liked it, and if Spike liked it, he wore it.
Another wave of dizziness washed over him but he twisted open the crushed water bottle and poured the last few drops onto his face as he stood. He brushed the clinging dirt from his jeans (black ‘cause the guys said blue was for pussies) and dropped the empty bottle to the ground where gritty dirt soaked up whatever moisture was left.
His boots clunked awkwardly on the cracked cement but evened out as he stepped onto the slightly smoother sidewalk. Spike wiped the sweat and clinging strands of hair off his forehead with an arm and pushed open the door, bell jingling half-heartedly as the blast of menthol-scented breeze frozen by the air conditioner to penetrate like tiny needles slapped him hard in the face and dulled his nerves to a pleasant numb state.
One glance at the beefy red-faced man in the corner critically stacking bottom-bin CD’s but still managing to glare at him with one bloodshot vomit-colored eye, and Spike quickly stepped beyond the rows of sticky candy and spoiling milk and generic condoms to the counter crammed between a wall of medicine boxes and a mountain of slowly eroding pencil cases.
Spike breathed in a mouthful of the liquid nitrogen that passed for air and discreetly pulled out his banged up GameBoy. By flipping the sound off and occasionally pretending to check on the weight-loss pills supply, he managed to appear occupied to the skulking stump of a man that tended to sneak up behind him when his attention wavered and begin ranting brokenly about how Spike didn’t pull his weight and how he should cut his salary for all the dilly-dallying he does while he’s supposed to be working!
Sometimes Spike reminds him that there isn’t much to cut from his already minimum-wage paycheck, but mostly he just nods understandingly and thinks up elaborate yet tasteful ways to slaughter the man as he’s sprayed with insults, hate, and alcohol-flavored spit.
A few cherry-colored neon letters sputtered defiantly above a brightly lit double-door entrance. Balmy air moistened Xander’s palms, already slick with sweat and vomit, as he yanked open the jangling door and stepped inside. There were rarely people in the drug store partly because of its location but mostly because of the state it was in. One half sat on a hill and it appeared sunken in on the one side and bunched up in the other. The blacktop in the front lacked yellow parking lines and any type of smooth surface. Fields of choked weeds drooped lazily on either side, broken only by the scraps of dusty dirt.
Xander breathed out in relief as the chilled air beat his rushing pulse into sluggish submission and helped to keep his eyes open because every time he closed them he saw a curled fist flying towards his face. Walking past rows of food, half-hearted entertainment, and downright useless objects, Xander paused by the refrigerated section to pull out a Bud Lite and then by the snacks to grab a pack of Twinkies. He set these down on the slick counter with a glance at the cashier he recognized from the many other trips he made to the drug store. White hair, blinding in this lighting, and distrusting blue eyes that sized you up whether you wanted to be or not the moment you stepped through the door.
The guy glanced around the store to make sure the stocky man who hung near the corners, presumably his manager, wasn’t around and rang up the beer. Xander had been told he could pass for eighteen, or even nineteen when he didn’t shave for a few days, but by the way he shuffled and the way his shoulders had a natural droop belied his real sixteen-year-old self. It was an unwritten law, however, that if the boss isn’t around you help a kid out. If the white haired guy had judged by his swollen purple eye or the way he could barely turn his head, he’d decided that Xander could definitely use a drink.
A clumsy shaking finger knocked over the bottle of Aspirin it’d brushed against and Xander leaned over to pick it up. Creaking pain flared in his knees for a moment and he had to clutch the side of the Coke display to keep from falling over.
“You okay, man?” A surprised and almost sincerely concerned voice drifted down and slowly plugged its way into Xander’s roaring head. The worry threw him off more than the gritty accent.
“Yeah,” he gasped, pulling himself up with both hands and the slit in his palm broke open and dribbled a string of slippery blood down his arm. Xander fumbled with his pocket, hands shaking absurdly fierce as he pulled out a thin wad of crumpled bills. The cashier took them softly and pointedly ignored the small tear shaped splashes of red blotting the edges.
Xander worried his bottom lip between his teeth and stared blandly at the counter, refusing to look at his own damage splotched reflection but rather at the mirrored image of the wary cashier. After where his nametag read ‘Hello my name is’ someone had stuck a piece of white tape over the original name and written ‘Spike’ in dark loopy letters. Two glittering silver rings split a curved eyebrow and winked dangerously in the severe lights plastered above. The only flaw in his ‘bad ass’ facade were those lonely passionate eyes that spoke volumes of gravity and disappointment. They’d look more at place in a Western movie than a shoddy drugstore that was basically a gas station but lacked even gas.
The sharp eyes flashed down to the glossy counter to meet his own dull brown ones reflected and Xander ducked his head and his eyes returned to their well-known residence at the dirt sprinkled tiles. He mumbled that he didn’t need a bag and snatched up the can and snacks and shoved the change into his pocket. As he stumbled toward the door he could feel the hard eyes digging into his back like a diamond drill and in his hysteria-induced paranoia imagined he felt twin rivulets of blood leaking rapidly down his back. When he stepped out into the moisture and heat-thick air, however, the only thing he felt was cold numbing liquid slipping past his teeth and burning frozen down his throat.
The door opened with a hushed jingle and a few shuffling footsteps clipping quietly towards the food section at a lazy yet decisive pace. Spike flipped the page in his magazine dully glancing at the columns of miniscule writing overruled by the towering image of a generously pierced and tattooed guy with leopard spotted hair and a black and red guitar dangling from one brass-knuckled hand.
The muted clink of a liquid-filled can followed by the crinkling of a package drew his eyes up to a pair of bottomless copper ones that fairly hummed ‘don’t look at me.’ Silky brown locks fell in loose curls around his ears and in front of his wide matching eyes, long as was the style yet scruffy and slightly wild. The bloated black and purple had faded to a dull gray around his right eye that could be mistaken for sleeplessness in the right light, but the uncompromising store overheads turned the worried flesh into a definite dying shiner. A creased white T-shirt and loose scuffed jeans (blue) concealed most of the well bronzed skin and whatever damage surely lurked beneath them. A slight stubble grazed his chin, but overall the guy seemed well improved from his last visit.
Spike quickly rang up the beer and stuffed it in a bag before the kid could protest. He had gotten into the habit of calling everyone ‘kid’ in his mind, though the guy was without a doubt his own age if not a little older. It was hard to tell with the stubble. Spike brushed a lock of hair (cherry red, today) out of his eyes. He’d stopped gelling it when he saw the extent of damage it left but now it was always getting in the way and refused to stay uncurled.
Spike just hoped the guy wouldn’t ask about his name. He wouldn’t be able to think of a lie quick enough and even if he did would probably end up blurting out the entire mortifying volleyball incident in front of this kid he couldn’t seem to think straight in front of. Something about him threw Spike off, and it didn’t even have to do with the stories the guys had told him about the kid who supposedly let old guys butt-fuck him for cash sometimes. He hadn’t been ready to believe it but once when Dylan had gotten piss drunk and started rambling about the girls he allegedly been blown by the other night he’d also slobbered and guffawed through a story of when he carved the word ‘fag’ into the dark haired kid’s back and the pissed on him. Spike had recoiled, incredulous at the time, but slowly learned that this was the kind of thing that you did at this school, in this place. Sure, there’d been violence at his old school in his home country, but nothing passed the realm of mocking and a couple drunken brawls in the pub. He managed to laugh along with the other guys but couldn’t stop shuddering inside at what the feel of acid on ripped flesh must have been like.
But the strange feeling he got when faced with this soft eyed stranger who always bought the same thing and had yet to speak an entire sentence without falling or stuttering gave him a pleasantly nauseous swollen feeling in his chest, slightly panicked yet wanting more. It reminded him of the time he’d first gotten his silky dark cat, Dru, when he was five. It weirded him out but intrigued him at the unnatural connection and yet left him without a single word on his studded tongue when faced with the pretty stranger. Spike handed over the bag.
The dark haired kid reached for it and his change in Spike’s other cupped hand and his weather warmed fingers brushed Spike’s store chilled ones. The natural blonde felt his odd plateau of emotions spike to distinct peak long after the fumbling fingers returned to their pockets. The kid walked out the loosened door, his gait lacking its usual awkwardness and in return gaining a rarely glimpsed natural grace that floated him out into the sun-baked air where he paused on the thickly veined parking lot and stared up at the sky before fading into the shadows. Spike decided that the boy deserved a pair of russet wings to go with those eyes, feathery and satiny and simply melting under a gentle caress. Wings that could carry up and above the source of those bloody palms and swollen eyes and shield him from the battering comments hurled recklessly and thoughtlessly. Spike hoped the wings were strong enough to carry two.
The pillow couldn’t muffle the resounding echoes of thrown objects but it blotted out most of the thrown insults. A few yellowish feathers drifted lazily down from it to rest quivering on his mattress and more bunched up around his clutching fingers. Metal springs dug hard into his stomach and hip bones and whatever cushion the mattress provided was lost as his body was one big sluggishly recovering ache that Aspirin couldn’t soothe. When all that ricocheted around the basement was dying echoes and buzzing flies, Xander flipped onto his back and absently fingered his spine as he tended to do when alone. The healed ridges slid smoothly under his fingers and he dragged them back and forth, tracing the letters slowly and inattentively. He didn’t look in the mirror often for fear of what might stare back at him, but he imagined the scars looked like ropes, thick and pale running down his back, contrasting sharply with the rest of his nicely tanned skin.
He’d been uncharacteristically melancholy the entire day, but his brief encounter with the sharp-eyed cashier had left him slightly buzzed. Well, the beer had contributed a little but mostly those razor-edged cheekbones and hesitantly inquisitive eyes had brightened his day a few (hundred) watts. There was just something about the guy with random hair colors that made him feel, somehow, more, yet want to be even more, though he knew next to nothing about him, save the fact that his nickname was Spike and hung around with Dylan and Ted. He felt like the guy was searching for something in him that he wanted to show him, if only he could understand what it was.
But probably Xander was just being gay. He was, after all. Queer. And he was supposed to take looks from guys too seriously. He was supposed to get a funny feeling when a pretty boy eyed him and he was supposed to want to see if he was really as strong as he looked even under all that leather. Everyone at school and on the floor above him said so. Because he was a fag.
Even with the word only said in his mind, Xander winced visibly and slid his hand out of his shirt and under the covers, pulling them up to wrap around his shoulders. He turned gingerly on his side and closed his eyes, desperately hoping he wouldn’t dream of chipped black nail polish and gentle cowboy eyes.
The bell had only just begun a quick jingle but Spike’s eyes were already trained on the swinging door and the figure stepping inside. He watched as the kid went expectantly to the refrigerator and pulled out a cold can then stopped on his way to the counter for a single packet of Twinkies. When he’d reached the cash register Spike barely had time to conceal a ridiculous smile that threatened to paint itself permanently on his lips if he didn’t glance down at the glossy cover of his magazine. Since when had the irregular visits from this dark-eyed stranger become the highlight of his day? Week, a little voice nagged but Spike shushed it with a few hard blinks.
The sound of a throat clearing whipped his eyes back up to a small but not unkind smirk that showed mostly in the coffee-colored eyes. Spike laughed apologetically low in his throat and snatched up the can. It seemed like the less awkward the stranger got, the clumsier Spike’s hands and words became. He said the prices and immediately hated how foreign his accent sounded in the over-processed air but they were greeted by a handful of straighter crisper bills that Spike fought hard not to think about how they were earned.
He handed over the plastic bag with a hand that almost shook with the effort not to shake. “Thank you, Spike.” Two fingers slid onto the handle that Spike had forgotten to let go of as his eyebrows shot toward his plum colored hair and his jaw slackened a bit. Dark eyes brightened and crinkled delightfully at the edges as lips twisted to form the sweetest smile Spike had ever seen. “It’s on your nametag.” But for a moment Spike was in love with that smile and for a moment he just wanted to lean forward and taste it.
Sooty eyelashes fluttered shut as warm lips met his, deliciously light and soft and not enough yet so much. He could feel the smile fade to something even better and the heat at his lips transfer to his groin as the mouth pressed hesitantly closer to his own, tasting faintly sweet of alcohol but even sweeter of something just more. Still as light as a butterfly wing’s caress and as elusive as trying to kiss smoke, but the delicate connection carved an outstanding new surface to rise and settle in Spike’s life. A life with suddenly a shrieking headlight glaring out of the dull gray like a star breaking through a thick band of clouds.
The bell jingled and seemed loud as hell in the silent store, save the two rapid heartbeats and the monotonous hum of the air conditioner. One pair of eyes stared wide and dazed at the blotchy faced man waddling toward the backroom, and another stared wide and dazed above scorching red cheeks at the slowly retreating dark hair and broad shoulders disappearing through the door and fading into the half-lit darkness before he could do anything but stand partially stunned and filled with a dizzying thrill. Spike sat down on his magazine resting on the chair and slid his leather jacket off his overheated body. He suddenly didn’t care if it wasn’t cool. I don’t even know his name, Spike realized, still staring at the exact point of darkness that the white shirt had vanished into, but the realization was quickly followed by another that said it didn’t matter. He’d see the guy again soon enough.
Xander gripped the side of the alleyway dumpster because if he didn’t grasp with all his strength onto something heavy and firmly on the ground, he feared he might fly away.
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