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Squiblet started for Herself and Circe and various others who requested plate-spinning.






Roadtrip


by
Witling



Part One

"So," Xander said, beating a quick little rhythm on the dashboard. "Monday. And no suck."

Spike gave him the What, exactly, is your problem? glance.

"Monday always used to suck," Xander said, watching the dark fields slope by. "School, work. Nine to five. Suckage."

"Was a lot more than nine to five in my day," Spike said. "And you didn't get weekends, either."

"And you lived in a cutlery drawer, yeah. No suck, Spike." He smiled and raised his hands, palms out, to show how much suck there wasn't.

Spike gave him another glance, a slightly different one this time. Suspicious. The But...? glance.

"No but," Xander said. "I'm just saying."

"You're just saying," Spike repeated, his eyes on the road.

"Yeah."

They drove a few minutes in silence.

"Bet you're wishing the tape deck still worked," Xander said.

"No," Spike said. "I'm wishing you still slept at night."

"Like a normal person," Xander said, glancing at his reflection in the window beside him. He's getting fashionably pale. Also, he needs a shave. "You ever pick up hitch--don't answer that."

Spike just smiled. Xander fiddled with the busted handle on the glove compartment.

"So. Monday."

Spike's shoulders went up a little, and he sent over a look that raked a single drop of blood from the thin skin behind Xander's ear. "Monday," he said, in a patient, velvety voice. "Yeah."

"When's the last time Monday meant anything to you, Spike?"

Spike adjusted his fingers on the steering wheel. "Monday," he said, "means the roads are busy. Means it's easy to get a hotel room. Means everyone's thinking about work or school or nine to five. Means after-school care and latchkey and pizza delivery guys and business as usual."

Xander sat for a minute in silence, staring at the yellow line. "Thank you," he said at last. "For a minute there, my life wasn't Lynchian enough."

Spike shrugged. "No problem."

Fifteen miles to Saratoga Springs. Xander worked at his thumbnail. He had shadows under his eyes, like smudges.

"Is there anything," he said, "that we can safely discuss?"

"Depends on what you mean by safe."

"Not involving mass murder."

Spike tipped his head to the side and rested it on his knuckles, as if he were too tired to have this conversation. "Package deal, Harris."

Xander looked back out the window. Grey snow raced by in waves. "Yeah. Right, I forgot." He bit his nail some more. "And when did I become the girl in the relationship?"

Spike pressed his lips together hard, then turned his head and coughed. Xander kicked him.

"Fuck you. Just because you're too insecure in your masculinity to use polysyllables."

"Fuck me?" Spike stared at him in astonished amusement. "Mate, you're the one hasn't said a word the last six months."

"I was traumatized, Spike. And can I just say? She wrote me that way."

"You were bloody mute, is what you were. Like living with a mime. Traumatized me."

"You're not traumatized, Spike. You're not traumatizable."

"I bloody am. Got my nose broken twice over you." He put his hand over the bridge of his nose and twitched it; there was a minute clicking sound. "Hear that? That's the sound of trauma."

"That's the sound of your thumbnail against your teeth, you moron. What are you, five?"

"Not my fault I heal fast." He sniffed and settled his shoulders. "On the outside, at least."

Xander kicked him hard, directly in his bony hip, and he laughed.





Part Two



"Judge Judy."

"Who?"

"Judge Judy. You know. The TV judge."

Silence.

"With the doily."

"Oh, shit."

"Yeah. So, Judge Judy."

"Yeah. Or?"

"Or Dr. Laura Schlessinger."

"Christ."

Xander grinned and nodded. "Yes indeed. Clock's ticking."

Spike stared hard at the road, his knuckles flexing white on the wheel. It had started to snow, lightly.

"Laura," he muttered finally, his eyes fixed straight ahead.

Xander laughed. "You'd do Laura Schlessinger? Spike, that's sick."

"Right, and you'd do the judge, I suppose."

"Not my quandary."

"Queen Mother."

Xander stopped laughing.

"Or Endora."

Xander paused. "Endora? As in, Samantha's mother? From Bewitched?"

"Yeah."

"Agnes Moorhead."

"No, not Agnes Moorhead. Moorhead's a treat. Endora."

Xander took a deep breath. "Okay. So, allowing for the fact that Endora isn't actually, you know, real, I think I'd still have to go with her."

Spike snerkled. "Idiot."

"What? You just called Moorhead a treat."

"Right. Moorhead. Endora, on the other hand, is a witch. Think she'd take kindly to you sleeping in pike position?"

"I do not--okay. First of all, the question's invalid because Endora is a fictional creation. She's not real, Spike. And I can't be expected to--"

"What, fictional creations can't have sex lives?"

"Spike--"

"Double standard, that is."

"Spike, it's a bye. Admit it."

"Admit this."

"Spike, either you give me a new pairing, or I do more impressions."

Spike blinked rapidly. "Imelda Marcos. Or...Dick Cavett."

Xander sat for a second in silence. "Spike, Dick Cavett is a guy."

"Yeah. So?"

"Imelda."

Spike turned his head and stared. "You'd shag Imelda Marcos."

"Hey, if death were an option--"

"Shoe queen. Pillager of an impoverished nation."

"I made my pick, Spike. Can we--"

"Over a fairly-crap-but-at-least-not-dictatorial-head-of-a-developing-nation talk show host."

"Spike, he's a guy." That came out a little harsh, so he smiled and added, "Plus, I dated Cordelia."

Spike stared at him a few seconds longer, then shook his head and turned back to the road. Somehow, the atmosphere in the car seemed to have dampened. Xander cleared his throat.

"Okay, so, uh, Anna Nicole Smith--"

"Not playing anymore," Spike said shortly.

"Oh, just because you're behind three--"

"Don't feel like it."

The snow was getting heavier, tapping on the windshield and starting to stick. Spike switched the wipers on. Eyes on the road for safety. After a minute he said, "You can be a real twit sometimes, you know that?"

Xander realized he was tensing into the corner of his seat, pushed up against the door, his arms crossed and his legs tight. The passenger side window didn't seal properly, and a thin cold wind blew up his neck.

"Uh-huh," he said, looking out into the darkness and the rippling sheet of white. "You don't exactly make abduction a delight, either."





Part Three



No dill pickle chips in Sticksville, so he gets barbecue instead, and a paper cup of vile coffee. At the till he hesitates over a local paper ("Reservoir Levels Hotly Debated"; "Council Bans Chinchillas") and then tells the guy to bill him for two coffees. He can't remember what Spike takes, so he grabs a little of everything and Sherpas out the door with a cup in each hand, the paper in his armpit and the chips between his teeth.

Spike's doing something under the hood, and there's a lingering smell of gasoline despite the wind that wants to strip Xander of his purchases and possibly his clothes. It instantly gets all the little sugar packets and the powdered cream, which is probably a good thing. He perches the coffee on top of the car, pops the door, and gets it all in fast, shivering and shaking snow out of his collar. Jesus Christ. Canada. And they aren't even there yet.

Spike slams the hood and stands wiping his hands on a piece of paper towel, half-turned away from the car. The fluorescents make the bleach job glare. He looks tired and grumpy. He looks like he's been in a car for two days. Which he hasn't.

He drops the towel and it's instantly gone into the night, outside the white swirling spotlight of the gas station. When he opens the driver's side door to get in, the wind coughs snow over his seat. He smells like vital automotive fluids. He slams the door, and it seems very quiet in the car.

"Man, you just don't give a hoot, do you?" Xander says quickly. "Take this." He shoves the coffee into Spike's hand, and Spike looks at it, then at him, as if he's holding a raw chicken leg.

"Primo stuff," Xander says, and tries not to taste while he sips his own. "Oh, yeah. Damn, that's good."

Spike takes a quick sip, and his jaw tightens. He looks for somewhere to put the cup down, but in 1959, Detroit hadn't even begun to think about beverage holders. He ends up holding it gingerly in his left hand, while he turns the key with his right.

"I looked for something for you," Xander says, tearing open the chips with his teeth, "but that guy was totally anemic."

Spike makes a noncommittal grunt, which is about all he's done for the last half hour. Apparently they take turns being the girl.

They pull out with a growl and a lingering smell of fossil fuels, and now the snow is coming down hard enough to make the headlights two solid, slanted cones of white. They make it back to the freeway in one piece, and then it's just the big trucks and them. Nobody else dumb enough to be out on a night like this. Xander tries a little more coffee, and winces. "Really coming down."

Spike nods. A truck passes them, mudguards clotted with snow. The DeSoto shivers in its lane. Xander eats a chip.

"Enjoying that coffee, I see," he says after a couple more minutes.

Spike glances at him, then wedges the coffee between his legs and starts fishing in his coat pockets. He finds his lighter, but not his cigarettes, and after a minute or two of searching he starts getting annoyed. His lips get thin and he tips his head and stares at the road as though it's just cleaned his crypt, and his jaw ticks. Xander watches him, and eats his chips.

"So," he says after a while, when Spike's progressed to hiking his ass up off the seat to check his hip pockets, the coffee still jammed in his crotch. "Joe Strummer, or Mick Jones?"

Spike shakes his head, his hand rooting in his pocket. "Piss off. Where the hell are my--"

Xander leans forward, pops the glove compartment, and takes the cigarettes out. "I stuck them in here before we stopped. Mick or--"

"Why the hell would you put them in there?" Spike grabs them from him and mouths one out of the packet, veering a little to light it. Xander puts a hand on the dash to brace himself.

"Whoah. Driving first, yeah? Because I didn't really want to see you smoke a cigarette while pumping gas in gale force winds." He licks barbecue off his fingers and tries the coffee again. Still heinous. "So come on. Mick or Joe."

Spike smokes hard for a second, his teeth clenched for the inhale. Then he shoots out a blue jet and picks up his coffee. "You asking if I met them? Because I didn't."

"No, Spike. I'm asking which one you'd fuck." Xander squints and fans his hand through the cloud of death. "Or whatever. Could you maybe crack a window or something? Because I've grown attached to--"

"Which one I'd fuck?" Spike gives him a pissed-off, incredulous look. "They're blokes, Harris. Guys."

"I'd do Joe," Xander says. "Early Joe, though. Not late Joe. Late Joe freaks me."

Spike's shaking his head. "Fine. Whatever."

"Late Joe's had his eyes tucked." Xander shudders and sips his coffee. Shudders again. "And young Mick's teeth..." He reaches for the chips.

"English," Spike says in an explanatory tone, then straightens up and takes a sharp drag on his cigarette. There's silence for a few minutes, except for the continuous prickle of snow on the windshield. The wipers are going at full.

"Cary Grant or Gary Cooper?" Xander says, pulling his coat closed a little tighter.

Spike turns and glares at him. "Fuck off, Xander. Cut it out."

"Easy answer," Xander says, smiling slightly. "Total gimme."

Spike stares at him a second longer, then looks back at the road. "Cary Grant," he says curtly.

"Bingo. Antonio Banderas or that guy from ER?"

"What guy from ER?"

"The doctor."

Spike gives him the aren't we clever look.

"The guy with hair. All Croatian and broody."

"I have no idea--" Spike pauses. "Oh. Right. Him. Yeah, him."

"Despite the broody? He wouldn't carry a weight of bad brooding associations?"

Spike snorts. "Banderas is a Spanish ponce, makes his own hair oil. Wouldn't get on him to get over a ditch."

"Uh-huh. What's the other guy's name?"

There's silence. After a minute they both shrug.

"I'd do him too," Xander says, and goes back to his chips.

"You're a total git," Spike says, pulling the ashtray out. It's getting pretty full, and they've only been driving a few hours. "You realize you're not even playing it right anymore."

"Nah. We've just progressed to the next round. It gets increasingly complex and emotionally exhausting as we ascend to the winner's circle."

Spike tries his coffee again, and grimaces. "What's the winner get?"

"All-expenses-paid, one-way abduction to Canada. With a vampire."

"What's the loser get?"

"Same. But round-trip."

Spike chuckles and glances down into his cup. "Jude Law."

"Yeah."

"Or Angelina Jolie."

Xander laughs. The snow keeps coming.



The End







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The Spander Files