Betaed by: and as always, major thanks to Anna (iadorespike) for her ideas and help
Summary: Mostly kid Spander, au
Characters: Not mine, Joss' - I'm just playin' with 'em
Concrits: welcome in comments
(Inspired and based on Lyrics of Christmas Shoes, by New Song. Read The Lyrics Here
Xander sat alone at one of the tables near the playground. It was better like this, when the kids left him alone. Why’d they hate him anyway? Just cause he didn’t wear the right clothes, and didn’t bring the right toys. Wasn’t his fault his daddy needed every dollar he earned for…
He swallowed hard. It was for more important things, his daddy was right. And he wouldn’t make daddy feel bad, or tell him how he got teased at school. Instead of eating his food, he plucked at the strands of worn cloth around the new hole in his jeans. He sure hoped daddy didn’t put a patch on this hole … that only made him stand out even more.
So what if all the kids at school were rich. So what if they got food brought to them from outside, or bought from the McDonalds and IN and Out trucks that came by the school. So what if last year, when he’d been in first grade, he’d been one of those kids? Now everything was changed.
“Awww, are you going to cry again?”
Xander immediately dropped his hand away and looked over at Missy and her giggling friends. What she said wasn’t as important as the ice cream cone in her hand. He remembered the taste of vanilla ice cream… so cold on his tongue, and sweet.
“Xander is a crybaby, Xander is a crybaby!!!”
The chorus started, and it did make him wanna cry again. These days, he cried a lot. At home, under the covers. On the bus, wondering what he’d find when he got home. At school.
He willed himself not to shed a single tear, though hot liquid had gathered in his eyes. That was the only reason he didn’t look down into his tray, the fear tears might spill over.
“You’re not eating. Must mean you figured out that the meal tickets get you shit. That stuff on your plate, it’s horse meat…”
“Yeah, horse meat. That’s why you don’t pay for it.”
Another round of opinions as to what he was eating. His chin started to wobble. The food wasn’t so bad. Except the string beans, they probably were made of horse meat.
“Cry baby, eats shit, cry baby, eats shit….”
And now the older kids had joined in. Sixth graders even. And some of those boys were BIG. Last week, they’d pushed him on the swings until he was screaming and his throat hurt, then they’d pushed him off. He still had a lump on the side of his head, wasn’t gonna get on the swings anymore.
His heart started to race as the bullies got closer. He grabbed his things, stuffed them into his pocket. Just a pencil and eraser, but he’d gotten in trouble for not having a ruler last week, and then daddy had gotten mad that he’d lost it.
“I have enough troubles Xander… we’re drowning here, and you keep throwing things around. You can’t do that boy, not anymore… not anymore…”
He’d have explained that the sixth graders took it… if his daddy hadn’t started to cry. He did that too now, a lot. They’d just cried, dad at his desk, Xander on the sofa… alone, but together. Mama would have banged their heads together!
“Hey you, you living in a dream, in one of your stupid comics?” Billy, the big beefy one pulled Xander up off the bench and shoved him back on his ass. “Who do you think you are, Spiderman? Shit, you’re more like Batgirl…”
Laughter. Xander cringed and crawled away, before standing up. He tried to meet the eyes of the other kids, but no one would meet his gaze. They were busy laughing, pointing, and now tossing the food on his tray. Once, they’d been his friends.
Every head on the playground turned toward the blond sixth grader. Spike was his name. Xander wished he were like Spike, everyone loved him and no one pushed him around.
“Last one to touch the backboard is a rotten egg!” Spike threw out the challenge, met the second grader’s gaze for a second, then smiled and ran toward the board at the other end of the playground, taunting the others.
Sure enough, everyone left Xander alone, and ran with the blond. Everyone but Missy.
She tossed her ice cream into the trash. “Loser.”
As she walked away, Xander thought of getting her ice cream. But the school trash was so nasty. Nah. He looked one last time at the blond head, then went inside. If he didn’t get to his seat first, there was no telling what the others would put on it.
[3 hours later]
A lot of the kids sat talking on the school stairs, waiting for their parents to pick them up. Nice cars, shiny ones pulled up. That wasn’t what made Xander hurt on the inside. It was the moms, all pretty, with lipstick, and ready smiles. Even those that looked cross made him want what their kids had.
He bumped into someone and immediately raised his hand in defense. “S..sorry.”
“No sweat,” Spike shrugged and didn’t even look at Xander.
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Spike answered.
Oh well, that happened too often for him to think twice about it. People pretending not to know him, or acting like something never happened. “Glad you weren’t the rotten egg.”
“Yeah, that would have been bad.”
A Mercedes pulled up and there was a beep. Spike picked up his book bag and raced down the stairs.
In the exact spot that Spike had been sitting, there were now two chocolate bars. Xander looked around, then grabbed them. By the time he looked up, Spike and his mom were gone.
It was dangerous to hang around the school. He quickly went down the stairs and headed to the bus stop. How many times had he begged his mom to let him take the bus? She’d said not until he was twelve. He had just turned eight yesterday.
[3 Months later]
Spike was bored. His mom had been dragging him around from store to store. Sure, the decorations were nice, but how long could you enjoy them for … really. Red balls, gold bells… yay-not
Lillian turned around. “See, that was a wonderful idea, taking the packages to the car. Now our arms are empty, and we can start all over.”
Spike groaned. “Maybe if you stuck to buying the presents and looked for yourself later?”
“Don’t be smart. Here,” she opened her purse and passed him some money. “Why don’t you choose your Christmas present? Whatever you want… just let me shop in peace.”
“But I like surprise…”
“Well you’ll have some, but there must be something you want.”
“Yeah, those new Hummers. They’re cool, climb up walls… some sort of vacuum under them, I think. They’re rugged and…” he trailed off, seeing his mother’s eyes glaze over. “Fine, go find something shiny,” he pointed at the other end of the store, where the bracelets and jewelry were displayed.
“I’ll see you in a bit, sweetheart,” she flounced off toward them.
Spike turned to go to take the escalator to the toy department, when he saw a familiar face. It was that boy, Xander. The one that people teased mercilessly. Why was he always alone? He couldn’t see his parents anywhere nearby.
Hopefully Santa… his parents… would get him some new clothes. Wearing the same ones all the time didn’t get the boy any points, especially at their school.
The younger boy had an intent look on his face. Curious, Spike followed him past the reindeer display, to the shoe department. Ugh… Ladies! Already bored, he was about to leave when Xander picked up some cherry red shoes. Just the sort Spike’s own mom might love. Strappy sandals, with some sort of glittery jewelry thingie, and small heels.
He watched as Xander turned the shoe over and mouthed something, like he was reading out loud. Gripping the shoe, he ran to the cashier and whispered something. A few minutes later, someone brought and showed him the mate.
“Can you wrap them,” Xander asked, still eyeing the shoes as the salesman put a lid over it.
“You have to pay first, but sure.”
“Okay… can you hurry?” he whispered, getting the money out of his pocket.
Spike moved closer, frowning as the boy unfurled dollar bills and moved change across the table… not the cashier table, which he couldn’t reach, but a side table next to the sofas where the moms could try their shoes on. He didn’t know how much money that was, but it probably wasn’t more than enough to buy a game for his X-box, let alone a shoe from this store.
“Son, you don’t have enough there,” the salesman, said.
“No wait, I’m not done. Twenty three…. Twenty three fifty, twenty four and one, two, three…..”
The patient but pained look on the salesmen’s face was matched by Spike’s. What a weird kid!
“Twenty five… there… just enough,” Xander looked up. “It’s gonna look so fine on her, I know it. Red’s her favorite.”
“Son it’s not twenty five… it’s two hundred fifty, and that’s without tax.”
“What? Where?” Xander grabbed the box, “it says twenty five… oh…” no point after the five. “But…” a lump grew in his throat. “Can I buy it and pay you later? It’s for Christmas.”
“I’m afraid not. Why don’t you go home, and bring your father with you? I’m sure he’ll pay…”
“No, there isn’t that much time!”
“Two days until Christmas—“
“For my mom,” Xander looked up, eyes filled with tears. “Daddy said she might not make it to Christmas. I need to give her present early. She’s…. she has to see them before she …”
The man patted Xander’s head. “I’m sorry.”
“Please sir, please?” he sniffed and wiped his eyes. “We’re opening presents tonight, just in case. She always had presents for me, knew what I wanted. Just this time, I’d like to…”
Seeing the salesman tear up, and Xander cry, Spike couldn’t stand it. He raced over to his mom and told her what he’d heard. Asked if she could help.
“What do you think I am, a money tree? Sorry, I don’t even know the kid. I’m sure they’ll be fine, now go get your toy, I want to go to Bloomingdale’s next.”
He tried, Spike tried to walk past Xander and the salesman, but he just couldn’t. There went his super duper Hummer. He walked up to them and gave the man the money his mom had given him.
“That’s just about enough. I’ll take care of the tax, then,” the man smiled and took the box away.
Xander wiped his eyes. “You…”
“Didn’t do anything. Didn’t even see you…”
“Okay.” Spike took a couple of steps. “What’s wrong with her. Your mother?”
“Cancer,” Xander choked on the word he’d learned this year. “It’s killing her. I want to see her smile, she will when she sees the shoes.”
“Okay then. Merry Christmas.” Spike walked away, the words sounding empty compared to the look on Xander’s face. Suddenly the festive lights around the store had lost their shine.
[Three weeks later]
Christmas vacation had been over a week ago, but this was Xander’s first day back. He walked slower, dragged lower than ever before. Even the barbs directed at him didn’t make him cry. He’d used up all of his tears. All of them.
Spike hid his hand behind his back when the bathroom door opened, then when he saw it was only Xander, took a puff from his cigarette.
“Did she like them? The shoes?”
“They looked good on her,” Xander whispered, his voice strained.
“That’s good, then.”
“Yeah,” Xander backed up to the door, turned around and opened it.
“Did she make it, to Christmas?”
“Oh. Its good you got them early.”
“She never saw them. I was too late. Daddy says she sees them from heaven.” The door swung shut behind Xander.
“Fuck!” Spike furiously wiped at his eyes.
[Thirteen years later]
The sidewalks were crowded with Christmas shoppers holding bags, holding hands, sharing body warmth and laughter. Xander wistfully slipped past a happy couple and entered the sports store.
He picked his way through the display trees, looking for the perfect sneakers. Immediately, he gravitated toward a stand with a couple red pair. He lifted one and looked at the price.
“Always did have a fixation with red,” Spike drawled from behind the brunet. He was almost sure it was Xander from grade school. At the end of the semester after his mother’s death, he’d been pulled out of school. The last Spike had heard, the Harris’ had moved out of town.
For years, the night Xander had taught him the true meaning of Christmas had haunted him. Especially around the Christmas season, and this one was no exception.
“Huh?” Xander turned around. He might not have been around for many years, but that shock of white blond hair was unmistakable. “Spike.” The old insecurity nibbled at him, but he fought it and put his hand out. “How are you?”
What a question. The blond was fine… by any standards. Lean, clad in black jeans and jacket, with a red turtleneck sweater, he could melt Frosty the Snowman just by walking past him.
“Good,” Spike shook hands. “You remembered my name.”
“You’re the one who always pretended not to know who I was.”
“Touche’” Spike nodded toward the shoes, “Are you getting them, then?”
“I think so. I… oh, I owe you…”
“No you don’t…”
“Yes I…,” Xander could see from the way Spike was dressed, that he didn’t need the money, and from his expression, that he’d be offended. “Thank you. I don’t think I ever said it, before.”
The blond nodded. “It must be hard, this time of the year.”
“Yeah, sometimes. But I don’t dwell on it. You married… or .. or anything?” Giving his credit card to the salesman, Xander turned to look at Spike.
“Huh.” Licking his lips, Xander wondered if it wasn’t his imagination… Spike was looking right back at him that way. “So… what are you doing these days?”
“Stocks. Don’t laugh.”
“I’m not… but I thought jock, for sure.”
“Yeah well, locker rooms turned out to be a problem. My mind was on the guys and not on the game.”
“Yeah.” Spike tapped Xander’s shoulder and pointed to the salesmen. “I think he’s waiting for you to sign.”
“Sign… r-i-g-h-t.” Quickly, he signed and got his package. “So, you’re going to your family tonight, I take it?”
“Nah, I go Christmas day. I’m at loose ends tonight.”
“Mmm. Unless I find a date. Would you like to come over? Dinner and a DVD is the best I can offer on short notice.”
“Hell yes, I mean… yeah,” Xander’s smile lit up his face as he walked out with Spike. Then he felt Spike’s arm go around his waist and smiled even more broadly. “You’re fast.”
“So I’ve been told.”
Xander put his own arm around Spike’s waist, only he then slid his hand down and hooked his thumb into Spike’s pocket and tapped his hand over the guy’s ass.
“You’re quick… I don’t remember that about you.”
“I’ve grown up.”
[Three hours later]
With the lights dimmed, the fire slowly dying in the fireplace, and the Christmas tree lights gently twinkling, Spike’s den was the perfect setting for a romantic evening. The movie had long since ended, but the pair were still on the sofa, entangled in each others’ limbs and kissing like there was no tomorrow.
Spike rubbed his thumb over Xander’s lower lip… his now very swollen lower lip. God, if his own mouth was in the same condition, he’d have some explaining to do to his mother tomorrow.
Xander nipped Spike’s finger and laughed. The sweet port they’d drunk had gone to his head and totally loosened him up. Now he couldn’t get enough of its’ taste… another kiss was just how he intended to get more of it.
He put his hand behind Spike’s head and drew him close. Not that Spike was resisting one bit. In fact, when their mouths met, they eased into another long fiery-hot kissing session, with hands sliding over each other, exploring, memorizing.
Eventually Spike broke the kiss. “This is some Christmas present.”
“Mmm,” Xander agreed. “Spike… know how I have a thing for red?”
“Was that red satin… I mean, your boxers…” he’d glimpsed a scrap of the material as he’d tugged Spike’s sweater up earlier.
Spike froze. “Yeah…”
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