Spike/Xander shmoop for eliade, to keep her out of the clock tower a little longer.
Shmoop for Eliade
"What's the matter with you?"
Xander half-raised his head, grimaced, and dropped it back onto the arm of the couch. "Nothing."
Spike gave him a sideways look and turned away to kick through the piles of mouldy Lifes. "My mistake," he said. "You're a carnival of delights." He picked up the wedding of Jackie and Aristotle and started tearing pages out, using them to wipe the motor grease from his fingers. "Keep it down, will you? Some of us have been working all night, last thing we need is Mardi Gras."
Xander closed his eyes, sighed, and wiped the drift of magazines off his chest and belly. They hit the floor with a series of sussurating thumps, like giant bat corpses. Which was a comparison he could draw confidently, and from experience.
"Okay," he said, pressing his thumbs into his eyes. "You're right. I'm sorry. Come here."
"More like it," Spike murmured, dropping the oily pages and slouching over with a grin. His right knee fit perfectly in between Xander's, and his hipbone was a familiar poke to Xander's appendix. He kissed Xander's lips, rubbed his cold nose against Xander's cheek, then let himself lie limp and heavy with his face jammed into the curve of Xander's neck. He smelled like car parts and smoke and something highly proofed.
"Were you drinking all night?"
"It's bloody cold out there, pet."
"While you fixed the car. You were drinking."
"Could fix that thing blind. Have done."
"Which explains-- And you smoke too, don't you?"
Spike mouthed his neck and said nothing.
"You probably ash into the gas tank," Xander said morosely, one hand curling in Spike's hair. "I hear a big boom and a lot of little-girl crying, I'm not coming out there with the Bactine, you hear me?"
Spike bit his collarbone, and slid a greasy finger under his waistband. Xander considered, then sighed again and kissed him lightly on the crown of his head.
"You smell like Minute Lube," he muttered, and Spike looked up grinning. "Pervert."
"Of the first water."
They kissed for a minute or two, and Spike braced his elbows on the couch arm behind Xander's head, slowly shimmying his hips. Xander put his hands down to hold him still. Spike gnawed gently on his tongue and pulled away.
"What? That time of the month?" He started the cobra dance again, his eyes laughing, and Xander just lay still. Spike stopped moving. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing. I'm just not-- I just don't feel like it right now."
Spike studied him for a few seconds, then pushed himself back and sat up between Xander's legs. Elbows on knees, hands dangling loose and dirty. His face was closed and watchful. He had grease on his neck. "Something on your mind," he observed.
Xander shrugged and reached out to catch one of Spike's dangling fingers. "Just moody." He inspected Spike's fingernail, the oil-caked joints, the marks they left on his own skin. He'd felt better with Spike's weight on him.
"Yeah. Just--" He paused, studying Spike's finger. The whole thing seemed stupid all of a sudden. "Forget it, it's--"
Xander glanced up and saw that Spike was watching him with a different expression now. Softer, and less guarded. He squeezed Spike's finger, then let it go to rub his hands through his own hair.
"It's dumb," he said. "It's just--I've been reading these fucking things all day--" He waved at the faded magazines scattered over the floor. "And it's just..." He took a long breath. "I mean, I was just looking at pictures of Selma, and Kent State, and you know, firehoses and dogs and stuff. National Guardsmen. And then all these Vietnam pictures, these little kids, all blown to shit. Agent Oranged. And then there's white kids in Cleveland, going to the prom. And, oh fuck, Honduras, United Fruit Company, and China, China's a mess, and crop spraying, and the Trail of Tears, there was this article on the Cherokee nation, you know?"
"Cherokees," Spike said. He was watching Xander carefully, and his tone was neutral.
"Cherokees, yeah. The Indian Removal Act. Grade ten history, I think. Not that I paid attention. But yeah. The obligatory, annual Holocaust photo spread. And Pol Pot, that picture of all the skulls stacked up, and the Japanese war in Manchuria, I'd never even heard of that. And Rosa Parks--"
"Rosa Parks," Spike said, with a little more animation. "I met her."
"You did not."
"You say that about everyone, Spike. You said that about Jimmy Hoffa."
"Met him, too."
"Spike." Xander waited until he had Spike's full attention. "Do me this one favor. Admit that you never met Rosa Parks."
Spike's lips rolled sideways into a slow smile. "1967. Detroit. She signed a napkin for me."
Xander stared at him.
"What? Soulless creature of the night can't take an interest in social justice?"
"I've been thinking," Xander said slowly, his eyes fixed on Spike's, "that maybe we should just...chill. Hang out here."
Spike narrowed his eyes and thumbed his lip, leaving a grease mark. "In the Twilight Zone," he said.
"Yeah. Nowheresville, unincorporated. Population two. I mean, what the hell is the real world good for, anyway? It's a fucked-up place, Spike."
Spike glanced at the magazines, then down at the black fingerstreaks on his jeans. "Yeah," he said. "That it is."
Xander put his hand on Spike's knee, felt the solid bony cap under the denim. "We could just hunker down and send out for pizza. Domino's, because they're anti-choice and you can eat the delivery guy."
Spike nodded, one eybrow raised. "Could do that."
"I figure, I've got, what, forty years left in me? Give or take. We could get cable. You might even have the car fixed by the time I'm dead."
Spike narrowed his eyes, then abruptly leaned back onto his heels and held his hand out. "Come on, goblin. Swap."
Xander sighed and put his hand in Spike's. He let himself be hauled up and manhandled sideways, while Spike squirmed between him and the couch back, and then he was lying between Spike's legs, his head on Spike's chest. He turned his face to the side and inhaled Spike's shirt with his eyes closed.
"It really sucks," he said quietly, "to be a member of such a fucked-up, evil, homicidal species."
There was a pause, and then Spike said, "I know what you mean."
Xander took Spike's legs in his palms, felt his bony shins with the mysterious little dings and bumps, and his strong skinny calves. Spike's fingers were in his hair, combing gently.
"Right," Spike said. "Once upon a time, I was traveling through Iowa."
"Oh Jesus," Xander said, his eyes still closed.
"Shut up. I was in Des Moines, and it was the middle of the night, and I was hungry, right?"
"Spike. This may not be the best--"
"Shut it. I'm not that stupid." His fingers tugged briefly at the roots of Xander's hair, and Xander squinched and settled more comfortably between his legs. "That's better. So I'm off the freeway, driving through this suburb, and I come to a great big lawn, some kind of building up the drive, and the alarm's going off. So I pull over."
"Where was Dru?" Xander asked, his eyes still closed.
"Elsewhere. I pull over, and I start to see all these people come out, and stand about on the lawn. And after a minute I see there's something funny about them all."
"They're Melungeons," Xander muttered.
"They're old. They're all in johnnies and walkers, and there's staff trundling some of them around in chairs, and there's these little old blossoms with Sarah Bernhardt hair trying to stray off. It's a bloody fire drill, and all these old dears are out on the lawn in the middle of the night, milling about like goslings."
"And you thought, Here's an opportunity for civic duty."
"Fuck no. Here's dinner, more like." His fingers tipped Xander's head up and supported it while his thumbs pressed at the base of his skull. "But there's the staff, so I don't go up, I just get out and hang about by the curb, and if one of them totters down, well...survival of the fittest, right?"
"Right," Xander said grimly. "Listen, Spike--"
"Relax. I'm having a smoke, minding my own, and after a few minutes sure enough, this old punter comes doddering down and asks me for a light. He's got a cigar in the band of his shorts. Contraband, like."
"Very Freudian," Xander said. "If this story is rated anywhere above PG-13, I want it to stop now."
"I light him up, and there's no hurry, the alarm's still going off and there're more of them coming out, it's like a clown car, and the staff are going off their heads trying to keep them all in line. So we start to talk."
Xander opened his eyes and twisted around to look at Spike. "Does it bother you to converse with your meals?" he asked.
Spike waved a hand at the magazines splayed out beside them. "Not the only member of an evil species here, pet. And no, it doesn't."
Xander closed his eyes and lay back down with his head on Spike's chest. "Uh-huh," he said. "And can I just gloss the tale thus far with the comment: 'Not making me feel better'?"
"He starts telling me all about being a young man in San Francisco, merchant marines I think, drinking and whoring, the whole nine yards. He's got these tattoos, Fighting Blowfish or something, I forget now. He's a little old guy, but he's got these big fucking hands, working man's hands. Beautiful hands. Like yours." Spike lifted Xander's arm and they both looked at Xander's hand, which was square and scarred and in need of a wash. Xander frowned and linked his fingers through Spike's.
"So he starts telling me these lurid tales, terrible stuff, loose women and cocaine and his sainted mother at home in Omaha. And I'm telling him stuff too. Leading him on, you know? I was in San Francisco the same time, those same years, off and on, but I don't tell him that, I just say I read this stuff, or someone told me... And we're both laughing like drains, one-upping, and then he goes quiet and says he had a change of heart, and gave it all up. So I give him a hard time about that, and he takes it, and we smoke a while, and he tells me the rest of it."
Xander dropped their linked hands and pressed his cheek to Spike's belly through his shirt. "Which was?"
"Boring. He reformed, went home to Omaha, paid the family's bills and married a girl. Stayed married to her for forty-three years. Never strayed. Two daughters, one a pediatrician. Five grandkids. Got a bench named after him."
Xander rubbed his cheek against Spike's shirt. "He sounds like he did all right."
"Yeah, I guess. Boring, but all right."
"Boring, but you remember all the details."
There was a pause, and Xander found Spike's hand, raised it to his face, and smelled the motor oil all over it. He kissed it anyway, lightly. "So did you eat the good man, Spike?"
A pause. "Nah."
Xander opened his eyes. "How come?"
Spike was looking at him oddly, as if he were lost in thought. "Well," he said, "I asked him why he had the change of heart."
Xander propped himself up carefully, one elbow sunk in the couch. "And?"
"And he said--because he saw something." Spike's lips twitched. "An angel. He saw an angel. With white hair and a brazen face and a voice, and I quote, like cymbals. And the angel took him by the neck and half-sacrificed him. Then scarpered when his pals turned up." He smiled crookedly. "He still had the scars on his neck; he showed me."
Xander chewed his lip.
"I thought the tattoos looked familiar," Spike said musingly.
Xander stared at him a moment longer, then turned back around and lay down between his thighs. Spike's fingers found their way back into his hair, and they lay for a while in silence.
"I don't really get how that's supposed to make humanity seem less despicable," Xander said at last.
"Oh, that," Spike said. "Don't look to me for that. I hate you all."
Xander dug the toe of his shoe into a hole in the upholstery. "How long until the car's running, do you think?"
"It'll be fixed tomorrow."
"Uh-huh." He rolled over, pulled himself up till they were face to face, and kissed Spike gently on the lips. "Thank you."
They lay wrapped together, safe inside the force field, while the day broke open in Nowheresville.
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