Salad Days

~ Co-written by Mad Poetess [website]

"But I don't *like* cucumbers!" Spike protested. Xander shook his head and continued to slice them into the salad in front of Spike. It really wasn't fair. There should be an age after which you *couldn't* be forced to eat your green veggies. A hundred, say. Maybe a hundred and two for the really immature, which he, Spike, was not. So there.

"Nobody said you had to eat them, Spike," Xander said in a reasonable tone. It was the tone that said 'nothing you do or say is going to annoy me'. It was, in other words, a challenge.

"Well, you always smack me on the head when I leave 'em on the side of my plate. S'pose I could wander down to the lobby and give 'em to Princess to put on her eyelids..."

"You can if you want to," Xander agreed. He continued dumping the sliced vegetables into the bowl.

"And tell her you said she looked like she needed 'em..."

Xander just smiled as if Spike had offered to do the vacuuming then rub Xander's feet, afterwards. Spike narrowed his eyes to slits. It helped him concentrate on the task at hand, plus he didn't have to look at the slimy cucumber slices. "Or I could pick 'em all out and use 'em to decorate with. Your original Trek series diorama could use some new transporter pads."

"Oo, and they're the right size." Xander nodded. He whistled as he turned around and headed to the refrigerator, whistled as he retrieved a pint of cherry tomatoes. No, the correct answer was 'You're not letting those slimy things come within an inch of my collector's edition Kirk and Spock figures.' That was the attitude Xander had expressed when he caught Spike putting the two men in a compromising position on the Enterprise bridge set, anyhow. The slimy things being referred to at the time were Spike's fingers, of course.

"Oh, now *these* I like." Spike fished one of the cherry tomatoes out of the bowl with his fingers, vamped out, and commenced to sucking on it. Xander gave him another look that said 'isn't he adorable?' and continued making the salad. Spike finished off the tomato with a satisfied slurp, then glared at Xander. "You aren't planning on putting garlic ranch on it, or something, are you?"

Xander held up the blue cheese dressing, by way of reply. He glanced up and gave Spike another flash of a truly happy smile, then looked around. "Didn't we have Bac-Os?"

"Fed 'em to the kids."

"They like 'em?" Xander asked, sounding surprised and interested. Not at all annoyed. Spike was beginning to wonder if he'd woken up on the wrong side of the parallel dimension.

"Well, Gomer does. Goober just sort of looked at 'em, and Hubert tried to feed them to the bubbly diver." Helga would've liked them, but... they didn't talk about Helga. Ever.

"How could a piranha feed Bac-Os to a bubbly diver?" Xander paused in his salad-making to give Spike a confused look. "Don't you need hands for that?"

"Mouth to mouth. Cute, really. Looked like he was kissin' him."

Xander opened his mouth, then a moment later, closed it. He started searching the kitchen counter-tops for something else, still looking a little disturbed. Maybe Spike was winning, then. He pushed on with his campaign. "Speaking of which, I think Gomer's pregnant."

"Really?" Xander dropped the carrot he'd picked up. "Really? How can you tell? Really?" He suddenly ran out of the kitchen towards the tank, where he leaned over and peered at Gomer.

"Well, she's awfully fat these days..." Might've had something to do with having eaten her fourth bubbly diver this month, but he didn't need to mention that.

Xander was staring at the piranha, head moving up and down and back and forth as she swam. "Wow... we'll need a bigger tank. Maybe we can give some of the babies away when they're old enough. Cordy'll take a couple..."

Spike figured it was about time to use the one he'd been holding in reserve, since Xander was just perched on the brink, and all it would take would be one good push to knock him over into the mental piranha tank. "Yeah, seein' as we're about to be grandparents and all..."

Xander looked up at him, grinning widely. "At least one of us is old enough to be a grandpa."

"Yeah, and don't you think it's time you made an honest man of him?" Spike gazed back with his best attempt at sincerity. Ker-splash. Spike could see it in Xander's eyes. Mouth still grinning, because apparently his brain was no longer sending signals that far down. Only his eyes were registering the 'buh buh buh buh.'

"Honest?" he managed to ask.

Spike waved the distinction away with a flitter of his fingers, and got down to nibbling on the end of a carrot. "Dishonest. Whatever. I mean, wanna get married?"

Xander stood up, and looked at him carefully. "Why do you wanna get married all of a sudden?"

"Well, *I'm* not pregnant, if that's what you're asking." Spike continued to nibble. "But Dru called last week, and it got me to thinkin'. She says the kids are always complaining to her in her head. Sayin' they're confused, and they don't have a stable homelife." There he went again. Splash. Right into the mental piranha tank. If Xander didn't say something soon, Spike was going to have to offer him oxygen. Or something. He watched as Xander walked over to the couch and sat down, then stared at the opposite wall.

When he spoke, he sounded as if he were talking to himself. "Dru said the kids were complaining... they're confused, well of course they're confused, they're being raised by gay non-piranhas. What's not to be confused about?"

"She also said to tell them Auntie Dru was sending them another box of Black Widows to eat, because, quote, *I* still love you, even if your daddies are living in sin and obviously don't care about your feelings at all. Unquote." He looked pointedly at Xander. "Thought I'd warn you about that, since the last time you opened a care-package from Dru, I had to pry you off the ceiling."

Xander nodded, not looking at him. Spike wasn't sure if Xander was really listening. Xander suddenly shot him a look, then got up and went over to the phone. If he thought he was going to call Dru to check up on Spike's story, he'd be getting a surprise. Dru really had said all that. Spike had just blown it off at the time, but... Xander dialed a number, eleven digits so it was long distance. He stood at the phone quietly, then whoever it was answered.

"Hey, sorry to bother you," Xander said, giving Spike not a clue who he'd called. "Can I ask you something?"

It was times like this that made Spike wish Xander hadn't put a sound-dimmer on the phone so that he couldn't, purely out of concern for his loved one's emotional well-being, use his super-sensitive hearing to eavesdrop on both sides of a conversation.

"Am I in an alternate reality?" There was a pause. "OK, have I been cursed?" A shorter pause. "No, not that one. I mean another curse. Something like 'may you never know normality'."

Spike ticked the clues off on his fingers: Born on a Hellmouth. Grew up with Willow Rosenberg. Dated more demons than Spike had. Actually *liked* the Benny Hill Show. Actually liked cucumbers... He'd run out of fingers and was starting on his toes before Xander spoke again.

"No, it's just that Drusilla said the children -- the piranhas -- are unhappy because Spike and I aren't married. So he asked me to marry him. Something about a stable homelife." There was a pause while Xander listened, with a serious expression. Spike was a little too busy enjoying the sight of Xander being fed to the bubbly diver in the mental piranha tank, to wonder too hard about who was on the other end of the line. He'd undoubtedly regret it in the morning, as usual.

"Would you? I appreciate it. No, no don't break it if I've got one. I just wanna know." There was a longer pause during which Xander's expression didn't change. "Well, yeah. Hey, I dunno what kind of ceremony we'll be having, but if it's relevant, could you give me away?"

Well, that meant it was Giles on the other end and... Splooosh.

Xander smiled sheepishly. "Thanks. Yeah, go ahead. We'll stay offline so everyone can call us all weekend." Another short pause. "Do you know how to tell if a piranha is pregnant?"

Why was Spike suddenly swimming in the tank himself, with Gomer taking far-too-large nips at sensitive portions of his anatomy?

Xander was still talking to Giles, apparently unaware of his boyfriend-fiance's predicament. "Yes, yes, I will. I promise. No. OK, yes. Yeah, that would be great-- haven't seen you guys since the brunch last
month..."

Unless the cucumber-lover was trying to play with *Spike's* head. Yeah. That had to be it. He seized on that one hope as if it were an unlife-preserver that had just been thrown into the piranha tank. And if that was the case, he couldn't possibly let Xander think he was scared. Nope. Xander was hanging up the phone, and turned back towards him. His shy, half-smile faded as he caught sight of Spike. He hurried over and stopped right in front of Spike, nearly nose-to-nose with him. Why was the theme from _High Noon_ playing in the back of Spike's head? He swallowed a bit of stray carrot, and ventured, "Um...?"

Xander put his hands on Spike's face. Looked at him seriously. "Did I say 'yes'?"

Uh... No, but... Waitaminute! Spike sniffed uncertainly. "You mean you don't want to marry me?"

Xander rolled his eyes. "Not 'did I say *yes*', dolt. Did I *say* yes. As in, did I say it out loud so brain-defunct evil people could understand me, or did I imply it loudly so that only the kids could understand?" He nodded towards the tank where the piranha were swimming... happily. Oh. At least *they* were no longer confused, then. Spike gulped.

"No?"

"I'm not sure which that's the answer to, so I'm going to assume you have no idea, either." Xander sighed. Then he leaned forward and kissed Spike. It was a long, slow, happy kiss, which made Spike willing to forget all about cucumbers and fish and marriages. Then Xander stopped, and looked at him. "You *did* ask me, right? You weren't just joking around?"

Spike looked at the ceiling. Then he looked at the floor. Then he looked at the piranha tank. Then he looked at the salad. Then he... A finger brushed his chin. He looked at Xander.

"I'll make a really terrible husband, you know," he offered. "I mean, I never do the dishes, and I can't even set the VCR properly, and..."

"And I've lived with you for years already, and I know where to hide your shoes so you can't ever find them." Xander wrapped his arms around Spike. "Hey, do *you* wanna be the one to tell Dru we're making the kids unhappy? Or would you rather tell Angel he has to pay for the wedding Cordelia's going to organize?"

Spike leaned his head on Xander's shoulder. How did he get himself into these things again? "I... Y'know, the last time I blew off one of Dru's visions, my eyebrows got burnt off by a wyvvern."

"That was last month."

"Yeah, but I have a short attention-span." Spike thought for a minute. "Hey-- I asked *you*!"

Xander rolled his eyes. "Really?"

"Yeah, it's not *that* short. Since I asked you, that makes *you* the bride. So our Rupert has to pay for the wedding. Nyah-nyah."

"Chicken."

"Am not."

"Are too."

"Am not am not am not am no---" Spike suddenly found his profound speech cut off by a pair of salad-and-Xander-flavored lips. He licked the tongue heading for his, licked at it again as it went away.

Xander leaned back and said, "Are. You don't want to tell Angel he has to spend lots of money making an honest vampire of you, so you're trying to get me to pay for it since you know I won't actually ask Giles to."

Spike looked carefully at the piranha tank. Gomer appeared to be chatting up the new bubbly diver. Perhaps she'd make nice with this one. Perhaps hell would freeze over. Perhaps he'd admit that he had indeed intended exactly what Xander was suggesting. Or not. "Maybe it won't cost all that much. We can get married in the hotel, right? And it don't have to be formal. Maybe in the pool. Wes could wear that suit with the stripe. And the thong twins could be ushers."

Xander snorted. "Spike, Gunn and Angel will kill us all before they let Wes appear in public in that suit again. And if we try to suggest he wear it at a *ceremony*, there won't be enough of either of us left to fill a fish tank." Then Xander grew thoughtful.

Spike frowned, and tried to peek underneath the dark lashes to see into Xander's eyes. "What?"

"You know... if my public relations department issues a press release..."

"Then all the horns-n-slime glad-rags will want to come take pictures of the editor of _Demon Lovers_ gettin' married to one. An' they'll give us pressies, right? "

"I'll be able to write off a small portion of the wedding as a business expense. Feeding all those photographers..." Xander grinned. "And yes, they'll give us presents."

"Ooh, I knew I loved you for your mind." Spike frowned again. "Of course, this means you'll have to tell Rupert what you do for a living..."

"What?" Xander was looking at him, with *that* grin in his eyes.

"Publish naked piccies of demons that ain't as pretty as me." Then Xander was grinning at him like he was an idiot. "Well, I don't see why you won't put my picture in there..." Spike pouted just a little, because he knew he could get away with it.

"Spike, what makes you think Giles doesn't know what I do for a living?"

Spike frowned, then grinned. Really? "You mean our Rupes reads the demonic skin mags as well as carries on with that chaos bloke every so often? What's the world coming to?"

Xander whapped him on the head. "He doesn't *read* them. Well, that I know of. But he does carry them, in the back room of his shop. But he knows because I told him. I told him when I got the job as copy-boy, told him about every promotion. Told him when I decided to buy the thing from Wallace, and turned it into a decent, successful, money-making little enterprise." Then Xander hit him again. "And he doesn't carry on with Ethan. Eew."

If Xander said so. Maybe they really were just friends. Rupert did seem awfully cozy with Anya these days... "So how's come you let us all think he didn't know and we had to scurry round behind his back and cover things up?" Spike paused, and held up his hand. "Wait, don't answer that, it was a stupid question."

Xander was just still grinning. "You all have been pretty funny, trying to keep him from finding out, the last two years. No one ever asked how he could afford to fly to Bermuda every autumn for two weeks."

Spike shrugged. "I just thought he was spending the loot we carted out of the Initiative vault-rooms." Xander gave him a Look. "Which you weren't supposed to know about. Because it was a Bad Thing."

"Spike, do I need to ask you what you did?" For a moment, Xander sounded spookily like his Sire.

"Will you still love me no matter what?"

Xander scowled at him. "No. What did you do?"

"I'm not telling you until you promise you'll still love me."

"It's that bad?" Xander shook his head, and went to sit down. He visibly steeled himself, muttered under his breath and glanced at the fish tank. "OK. I'm ready. I'll still love you, Spike, no matter what you did. Even if I feel obligated to chain you in a closet for a year to keep you out of trouble."

"Will you come in the closet with me?"

"For conjugals, yeah. Unless Angel changes his mind--" Xander rolled his eyes. "Oh for pete's sake, stop pouting."

Spike grinned. "We popped back in while they were mopping up, back in two thousand, and liberated a bit of their ready cash from the vaults. Since Frankenwhozit was nice enough to unlock all the doors before Buffy ripped his nuclear furnace out, it seemed like the thing to do." He peered up at Xander through his own hopefully-not-too-resistible dark eyelashes, and detected a lifting of one fuzzy black brow on his lover. Oops. Fiance. Probably. Assuming the marriage wasn't called on account of vampiricide.

"You stole money?"

"Well, technically Rupert stole it. I just helped carry it. Selfish bastard wouldn't give me any to keep or anything. Said I wasn't mature enough to be trusted with it. Me! I mean, I'm a good eighty-some years older than he is, and..." Spike looked back at Xander. Mostly to see if he was buying any of this.

"That's it?"

"Well... it was a *lot* of money..."

Xander waved a hand. "*Money*. Geez, Spike. Like I care about you stealing money after you've spent how many years stealing mine? Speaking of which." He got up and walked back over, and whapped Spike on the head. "You stole a bunch of money, and you still have to mooch off me?"

"I *told* you, Rupert won't give me any. Um... andImight'vestoleanucleardevice..."

"Huh -- that explains why he was able to lend me the money to buy the mag."

Spike was confused. "Because I stole a nuclear device?" Then it occurred to him that perhaps Xander hadn't actually *heard* that part, and he should've kept his big mouth shut. He reached for a carrot to shove in it, and somehow ended up with a cucumber slice. Blecch.

"So what kind of nuclear device? And where *is* it?"

Spike wondered sincerely if Xander was *on* something. He didn't *smell* any weirder than usual, but he'd been in too good of a mood all morning. Even before the... ulp. Proposal. "It might not be a nuclear device. I mean, it didn't have a sign on it that said 'Nuclear Device, Don't Touch' ."

Xander continued to look interested, and say nothing.

"It... ah... had a sign on it that said 'Not a Nuclear Device, But Don't Press This Button'."

Xander stared at him for a moment, his expression one of sheer disbelief. "And where is it now?" he managed to ask, as he began to stifle what sounded like it would have been hysterical, out-of-control laughter. Spike studied Gomer intently. Maybe she *was* pregnant, after all. She looked like she was getting all nesty-like, cozying up to the new bubbly diver... no, wait, she was biting his head off. Well, women were supposed to do that when... He looked back at Xander, who was biting his lip, and appeared to be in serious pain. "Spike? I will always love you. If only for making me feel like the smartest guy on the planet." Then he lost all control of his laughter.

Spike sat down in the chair next to the salad, and drew his knees up, wrapping his arms around them and tucking his chin on top to seal the whole package into place. No use quivering the lower lip yet, Xander wasn't really looking at him. La la la la lalalalalala--- Xander was still laughing.

Spike busied himself with composing his give-me-money-for-my-wedding speech to Angel. At this point, it pretty much consisted of 'Give me money for my wedding.' Xander finally stopped laughing quite so hard, and he looked over at Spike. Stared for all of two seconds, then busted out laughing again. He collapsed on the floor, flat on his back. After a moment, Spike heard him trying to form words.

"Sooo... so tell... hee hee hee. Tell me which one..." Then more laughter. "Little flag? Bell go ding? Siren?"

"I don't think I *want* to marry you anymore. You're mean." This said with lower lip firmly in pout-position, and chin readied to quiver. Lock and load, Mister I'm So Smart I don't Know That I'm About To Get A Carrot Shoved Up My Arse And Not In A Happy Way.

"All *three*?" Xander gasped. "Oh, god, Spike. You should have been in the military. Any idiot knows about those signs." Then he was giggling again. It would build, then die away as he had to stop and breathe. Then he'd start up again. Then he rolled over onto his hands and knees, and starting crawling towards Spike.

"It could've been a nuclear device. It could've been a remote control nuclear device. It could've... blown up the public library in Terre Haute, Indiana when I pressed that button. *You* don't know." Engage chin-quiver. Ready, aim... fire! He'd show Xander who should've been in the military!

Xander kept crawling towards him. When he reached the chair -- apparently unfazed by the chin -- he put his hands up on Spike's knees. "Spike."

"It went bing, an' a little card popped out that said I'd just been invited into the Guild of Morons, and I should contact Riley Finn for details as to when the induction ceremony was being held. It was signed 'Forrest.' Makes me glad Captain Caveman killed the wanker."

Xander scowled at him. "Don't be. Forrest was a good guy."

Spike retracted the lower-lip-of-doom and blinked down at him. "And I'm a demon. Just cause I gave up actually *bein'* bad for some git who thinks I'm the stupidest thing on the face of the planet, don't mean I don't have the occasional bad guy thought." When the scowl didn't disappear, he sighed. "I didn't *know* him back when he was a good guy, did I? Just when he was a wanna-be Adam whose eyeball I had to stick a cigarette in to stop him from breaking my neck." His East End accent had disappeared somewhere, and he knew he sounded like Wesley, but he couldn't help it. Sometimes he had to pretend to be a grown-up. Just every so often.

"Spike," Xander said again. Spike looked down, finally. "I never said you were the dumbest guy on the planet. And I'm one of the good guys, which means I defend people like Forrest." Xander leaned forward, offering a kiss.

Spike accepted it gravely. A bit later, he replied, "Second dumbest, huh? After Billionaire David Nabbit, TM."

"No." There was no hint of laughter in his voice. What *was* there had nothing to do with nuclear devices or laughing at one's poor benighted lovers. Fiances. Whatevers. Xander took hold of Spike's wrists, and pulled him off the chair.

This isn't getting the salad made, Spike thought. He thought he thought. But there were warm hands around his wrists, and Xander was looking at him. *Looking* at him. And he was on his knees, somehow. Not thinking at all.

Xander let go of his hands. "Take your jeans off." Xander's voice was soft, firm, and still completely lacking in his earlier laughter.

How could that voice... *do* things like that to him? Spike managed to find the buttons with his fingers. All three of them-- buttons, not fingers. He wasn't doing very well at actually getting them open, though. There. One. Two. Three. Hands closed around his again as he pushed his jeans down. Helping out.

Xander's eyes never left Spike's -- as if Xander was sucking him in, bringing him inside Xander's body already, just through looking at him. Spike fumbled a little, when his jeans reached his feet. But there again, Xander was helping. Stripping him, then hands were at his waist. His shirt was pulled off, then Xander pressed his hands to Spike's chest.

"Lie down." He fell backwards, hitting his head against soft carpeting. Warm against his back. Spike closed his eyes and could still trace the shape of Xander's hands inside his head, every whorl of finger and palm print on his skin, holding him there. Burned into him.

"Roll over." Voice still soft, hard as steel. Hands turning him away from Xander, though he didn't mind, not when he felt Xander moving behind him, lying down, and felt those fingers at his arse.

His own were digging into the rug, and his mind was trying to make some kind of connection about shag carpeting, but this wasn't shagging and his mind wasn't working and there was warmth inside him. Warm fingers. Smart fingers, smarter than him, fingers that knew every inch of his body, even the places you couldn't see. Smart Xander, who knew all those places. Even the ones you couldn't touch with your fingers.

He heard a noise he knew; it took his brain a moment to place it. The snap of a cap, open then shut. A tube of lubricant, probably the one they kept under the couch. Then he felt something warm, again, then without any warning at all, Xander slid inside him. He had time to think he hadn't noticed Xander opening his jeans, then he didn't think anything as Xander thrust into him, completely.

Spike bent his head forward, glad he didn't need to gasp for air. Then Xander leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Spike, and said into his ear, "I love you."

He knew that, so why did it surprise him every time he heard it? Why did it... Spark and flame inside him like a warmer touch even than the hands on him, even than Xander inside his body. Why did it... Why did he feel like he needed to gasp for air anyway?

Then Xander pulled almost completely out, and Spike felt a wash of cold air spill through him. He opened his mouth to beg Xander not to go, then Xander was sliding in again. Whispering again as he entered. "I love you."

He pulled back, and slid forward, whispering as he thrust. Each 'I love you' punctuated by the touch of Xander's balls against Spike's buttocks. He couldn't hear anything else, not even the beating of Xander's heart, and he could always hear that. Always. From rooms away. But not now. Now all he could hear was 'I love you.' Again. Slow, steady, over and over.

It made being fucked almost inconsequential. Unimportant, distant as the smell of raw cucumbers and the sound of city traffic, way down below them. Except that each time Xander said 'I love you,' he pushed himself completely inside Spike's body. Pushed his way inside, easily as though he'd been invited to come in all the way to Spike's unbeating heart. Spike dimly realized that hands were on his body, holding him and caressing a little bit. Spreading more warmth as his lover said it yet again.

Every time he'd ever heard it, there'd been the echo in his skull. In his heart, beating or unbeating. The single-word reply that he'd never dared speak, though he asked it of Xander every day in a thousand other ways. Why?

But now. Over and over. Until it filled him up completely. No room for why. No room for anything but Xander inside him. Voice and cock and probably soul. No room.

Spike gripped the carpet harder, trying to hold on to the last of what was just him, but Xander didn't let him. One more 'I love you,' and Spike had buried his face, because there was no room inside him anymore for tears that he hadn't let out in he couldn't remember how long. And Xander didn't even alter his rhythm. Still into him, still whispering, and only the hand cradling his chest and the other arm beneath his head gave any indication Xander knew.

He felt Xander leaning closer, whispering softer his 'I love you'. A pause, then a hand brushed his face. Without warning, the words changed. "And I don't need a reason why."

Spike pushed his face into Xander's hand, and the world exploded around him. It wasn't his body that was stiffening and letting go and falling into Xander's arms. That was going on at its own pace. It was just him. Just Spike. As if those words were the last thing he ever needed to make him give himself completely. What the hell was 'I do,' when there was Xander saying 'I love you' again?

He could feel Xander coming, as well, silent now as he thrust a bit faster. Spike barely registered the change, though, his body and mind and everything else collapsed in Xander's arms. Then Xander tensed, and he heard a rush of air. For a moment they were both completely still, and Spike heard it again, harsh in a tensed throat, but spoken all the same.

"I love you."

I know, he thought. IknowIknowIknowIknow... He didn't even have the words. Xander was still in him. He was trying to say it back. Trying, but he couldn't even find the air to do that. No room for anything but Xander and I love you. He could only lie still, with Xander warm on top of him. Inside him. Still, every so often, whispering it.

Xander didn't try to move away, as he softened inside Spike. Just lay there, heart still racing, body just a little slicked with sweat. Spike was trying to gather up enough of himself to say it back, but every time he thought he had it, it all slipped away from him again as Xander's breath brushed his ear with every exhalation.

He opened his mouth, trying to form words, and a finger found its way to his lips. Touched the lower one, then slipped inside, just enough, in invitation. He licked at it, and then sucked as if he could bring Xander into him that way, too. Salt and sweat, even the sweat of his own body from Xander touching him, and he could feel the fingerprint with his tongue. He really could. Trying to say it, and it was like Xander didn't even want to let him.

But Xander was pressed against him, relaxed, content to simply let Spike suck his finger. As if maybe he thought this was the only way Spike could say it: sucking and nipping and trying to bring Xander back inside him. He tasted, for a long time. It seemed like a long time. Maybe you lose track of time when you're lying on your own floor and your lover is inside you and you don't know how to get him out just the tiniest bit, just enough to be able to tell him you love him. Don't know if you ever want him out again. He tasted for a long time, anyway, and finally he spoke around Xander's finger.

It came out muffled and funny and wrong, and Spike shook his head a bit, pushed Xander's finger out with his tongue, and said it again, right, this time. "I love you too, Xan." He kissed the finger that was still pressed against his lips. The arm that was still around him squeezed him tightly.

Then they lay there, silent and still, holding each other on the floor. Spike wasn't sure that he didn't want to never move again. Turn Xander so they could feed from each other, spend the rest of eternity locked together, not moving. Not ever moving.

Then Xander brushed his fingers against Spike's cheek, again. "OK?" Was he... There wasn't a sane answer to that. He thought of a couple, and they all sounded wrong, not good enough, even in his head. He just nodded. Made a noise that wasn't really yes, but couldn't be taken to mean anything else.

He felt a kiss on his shoulder, then Xander just held him. Made no effort to leave, get up, go rescue the salad that was getting cold, by now. Wilted and unloved and weren't they supposed to be on their way somewhere? Soon?

"Um..." That wasn't a real word either, at least not in English, but it was getting there. He nudged Xander's hand with his nose, trying to see the Mickey Mouse arms on his wristwatch. Spike was pretty sure they'd stopped moving, but if they hadn't, they might give him a clue as to what time of day it was. Or night.

"Yeah?" Xander didn't sound particularly more coherent than Spike felt. Spike figured they could easily lie here a few seconds longer and they'd both fall asleep. The thought appealed.

"Um..." The Mickey-hands hadn't stopped, and it was... eleventy-o-clock, assuming he could tell the big hand from the little hand. "Um..." He blinked. "Um..." Xander's hand disappeared from in front of his face, and whapped him very, *very* gently on the back of the head.

"Thanks. Um, salad?"

"What about the salad?"

"Supposed to have it downstairs for Princess at five minutes past five minutes ago?"

"We can be late," Xander said easily.

Yeah, that sounded good. Late, like... tomorrow. Spike laid the side of his face against the floor. But it was too late. Xander had let the English language back into his skull, and it had dragged Spike's brain back in with it.

"No, she'll kill us. You, not so worried about. Me, already dead. Not sure what'd happen." Right, so English was returning *slowly*.

"Nah. We just tell her we got engaged. We could show up naked, without the salad, and she'll just squeal and give us hugs. OK, maybe no so huggy if we're naked. But we have time." Xander's voice dropped a little. "About an hour."

"An hour?" Maybe he'd forgotten how to tell time. It seemed like a possibility.

Xander's hand was gently stroking his hair, and Spike resisted the urge to purr. Okay, so he didn't resist very hard. He made some noises which some people, if they didn't know the subtle differences between a vampire and a cat, might *take* for purring. Then the reason for the distract-and-relax-the-vampire technique became clear when Xander said, "I sorta said eleven, because I knew you'd distract me and make us late. Cordy wants us downstairs at noon."

As Spike tried to organize his randomly firing brain cells enough to object, Xander slipped out of him, rolled him onto his back, and moved to lie on top of him. "So you..." He got distracted by a smile, and forgot what he was going to say. It would've been really pithy, too. Xander leaned down and kissed him. Deep, like he was dragging Spike into himself all over again. Spike whimpered. "Don' play fair..." he murmured, letting Xander do whatever he damn well pleased to distract him from whatever it was he was supposed to be objecting to.

"I'm sorry," Xander whispered, and there were fingers in Spike's hair again. "Was I supposed to?"

"Uh-huh. You're a good guy, remember?"

"Ah." Xander pulled his fingers, and his mouth, away.

"Uhhhhhh... no. Now you're bein' a bad guy. A bad, bad guy."

"You think this is bad?" Xander asked, and there was a nasty looking twinkle in his eyes.

Spike looked back at him clearly, just for a moment. Then he grinned. "Not afraid of you. You don't scare me at all."

Xander grinned, and it was almost a very scary grin. Then Xander dove towards him, mouth heading for Spike's neck -- where he placed his open mouth against Spike's neck, and sucked. Just as hard as he could. Made Spike wonder, while he still had brain enough to wonder, if their children weren't part lamprey, as well as Piranha.

Then Xander sucked his brain completely out. Right through his skin. Schlurrrrp. Bye, brain!

Spike threw his head back, and noticed that the children were lined up in a neat little row, faces pressed against the edge of the tank. Eerily motionless. Staring at the two of them. Then his eyeballs rolled completely back into his skull.

He happily lifted his legs -- the action had no brain required, too ingrained in every fiber of his body -- to let Xander fuck him again.

*****

"D'you s'pose they'll notice that there's no cucumbers?" Spike shot a nervous glance at Xander as they walked down the stairs.

Xander gave him a happy grin. It was the same unruffle-able grin he'd start the morning off with. "No one will notice. Cordelia asked me not to put cucumbers in it..."

"So you what-- sliced 'em up to distract me?" The expression of pure innocence told Spike what he needed to know. "An' then you made me take 'em out-- *touch* those slimy things with my own *fingers* -- when they got all wilted?" Whole cucumbers were one thing, but sliced up... eccch. Those seeds kept *staring* at him.

Xander just continued looking innocent at him. Had the temerity to bat his eyelashes. Had the temerity to make Spike think words like temerity, after having had his brains fucked out onto the living room floor. Twice.

"Can I suggest that the next time you want to distract me--" They'd reached the bottom of the stairs, and Spike felt perfectly justified in latching onto Xander's non-salad-holding arm, now that he didn't need it to hold onto the banister. "--you pick a way that doesn't involve slimy veggies?"

Xander raised an eyebrow. "Spike, if they aren't slimy, a person could do *damage*."

Spike was about to retort, when Wesley interrupted. "You promised."

Spike was only just about mentally equipped to be talking to Xander-- they shared their own weird language, after all. He definitely wasn't ready to try to understand Wesley so soon after having things done to him that could do damage if they were done with non-slimy-veggies, which they weren't. "Huh?"

Xander nudged him and explained. "We're making him think about us doing things to each other with slimy vegetables. He's threatening to slay one of us."

Wesley's glare explained that he was threatening them *both*.

"You can't slay him," Spike said, putting a protective arm around Xander. "There's rules. You slay one of the grooms, you're completely off the ushers list."

"The what?"

"Oo! Salad's here." Cordelia came into the lobby, and walked over.

"No cucumbers," Xander said cheerfully.

Wesley looked like he was muttering the words 'groom' and 'usher' over and over, though no sounds were coming out of his mouth. Spike helped him out by demonstrating how to pronounce them. "Groom. Groom-zuh. Usherzzz."

"Is there a wedding?" Cordelia asked.

Spike looked happily at her. He was about to tell her all about it... and found that there weren't any words in his mouth. So he looked at Xander. Who was looking happily at him. They both looked happily back at Cordelia. It was a regular happily-looking fest, and Spike couldn't even summon up the cynicism to make retching noises.

Cordelia suddenly squealed, and she had them both by the neck, arms around them, squeezing the oxygen out of the only breathing one there.

Wesley blinked, then suddenly smiled. "Congratulations."

"Thank... you..." Spike croaked, trying to disentangle himself and Xander from Cordelia's well-intentioned but potentially fatal hug. "Oi... goes for you too-- no strangling the groom. Zuh."

Cordelia let go, slightly, and beamed at him. "This is wonderful! I'm so happy. And it's about time! Who asked who? What'd you say? How'd you ask -- unless you were naked in which case skip over the details." Cordelia was smiling and babbling enough to make Spike think she was related to Xander.

Spike tried to decide which one to answer first-- or if he should just let Xander tell it. But if he let Xander tell, the subject of how his eyebrows got burnt off might come up. He just barely remembered it being in the conversation somewhere back there. Before his brains leaked out. "Er, I asked him. I think."

Cordelia quirked an eyebrow at him. "You *think*? You don't even -- no. I don't think I want to know." Then she grinned again, and took Xander and Spike by the hands. "Come on! I want to see Angel's face when we tell him!" She glanced at Wes, who was starting to follow. "Now all we need to do is get *you* three married!"

"Now see here," Wesley tried to say, but Spike knew from experience that once Her Majesty had an idea in her head, you might as well just give up and ask what color the cummerbunds should be. Oh god... cummerbunds or waistcoats? She was going to ask, and if they didn't have an answer, she'd decide *for* them. Swimsuits. It really ought to be swimsuits. Then, when Angel forbid it, *he* could be the one to argue with Cordelia.

"Come on! I need details, so I can make phone calls!" Cordelia dragged them towards the dining room.

"He asked because he thought it would freak me out, I said yes because I knew he really meant it, and nobody was naked until at least seven minutes later." This from Xander, who was apparently having a hard time balancing the giant salad bowl and getting dragged along by Cordelia at the same time, and Spike was torn between trying to help him, and just staring.

"You knew?"

Xander stopped, and looked at him. It was that same look he'd seen when Xander had crawled towards him, and proven to him once and for all that he *loved* him. Gurgle. What was the question?

"I think they're going to be doing for the rest of the day," Wesley said. "Perhaps I should--" and he reached over and took the bowl from Xander's hands. Which left them free for Spike to grab, and not let go of. Cordelia had to drag them by the upper arms, but she managed it. All the way into the dining room, where Gunn and Angel were sitting, arguing over the morning paper.

"I don't think that's really a Kymellian scythe, Angel. There's no way anybody would advertise one of those things in the *want ads*."

"Angel! Gunn!" Cordelia interrupted them. The two looked up, expressions turning instantly suspicious. Why was it, Spike wondered, that him looking so happy made them look suspicious? He thought about scowling, but his hand was still warm, still in Xander's, so he didn't.

Angel looked surprised. Studied Spike's face for a moment, then looked at Xander. He asked Cordelia, though, "What did they do?"

"Brought the salad," Spike said. And put the advert for the Kymellian scythe in the L.A. Times, but he doubted Angel would be all that concerned with their little prank after Cordelia spilled the news.

She waved a hand in front of Spike's face. "I think they did naked stuff -- big surprise -- but the important thing is: they got engaged!"

"They *what*?" Gunn demanded.

Angel's eyes widened, then he asked, "Why? I mean -- who asked whom? Am I going to have to pay for this?"

"We can have it here!" Cordelia exclaimed.

Spike felt all control of his wedding slip through his fingers. If he'd ever had it, to being with. "Swimsuits?" he whispered, but no one was listening. Or so he thought, but somebody pinched him.

"Don't you dare even suggest swimsuits, or I'll tell everyone about the spell I had to do to restore someone's burnt-off eyebrows," Wesley hissed, so quietly that only Spike and possibly Angel could hear it. But Angel had Cordelia screeching in his ear, so probably only Spike.

"Hey, I let you win at darts for that," he whispered back. "And pretended to be drunker than I really was so you could maintain your upper-middle-class dignity in front of y'r boytoys."

"I am *not* wearing a pink morning suit!" Gunn protested loudly. "Man, one of you speak up or your wedding colors are gonna be..."

"Salmon and teal! It's a great combination, and they left a ton of streamers in those colors down in the wine cellar. See, I'm saving you money, Angel." Cordelia was beaming.

"Black!" Spike and Xander yelled, together. Spike was willing to negotiate for white, as well; possibly red.

"I like black," Angel agreed. He walked over, and looked down at Spike. "Boytoy?"

Xander stifled a giggle. Spike puffed out his chest. "You gonna deny it, oh-eats-out-of-Wesley's-well-manicured-hands? Admit it, you're just a softy for the accent."

Angel suddenly got about two feet taller, and gained a stone and a half. Or maybe the subtle growl he gave Spike just did that Sire thing to him, and he was hallucinating the rest. Ulp. This was it. He'd finally done it. Goodbye suddenly not all that cruel world, because Angel was going to Spike-icide him, and... Or he could just wrap his arms around Spike and give him a creepy big hug. That would work too.

And then say, "I've always liked the accent." Which got him 'die, vampire' glares from Xander and Wesley.

Angel just smiled, which was spooky enough. Then he asked again, "Which one of you asked the other? How much am I going to have to pay?"

Spike decided to explain, this time. "He asked me, cos' I'm such an irresistible shag, and you have to pay for everything, and it'll be a bundle 'cos Cordelia's gonna spend it all on flowers and ribbons and fussy things that go in girls' hair, and you'll just have to smile and take it like a man, nyah-nyah." That about summed it up, right? Now who was too chicken to ask his father-figure to pay for a wedding?

Angel looked a bit shell-shocked. He turned to Xander, who shook his head and said, "Nope, sorry. Groom's family pays for the rehearsal dinner. I'm thinking pizza and a CD in the stereo for the dancing."

"Giles would pay for more than *that*," Cordelia said.

"I'm sorry -- I'll do *what*?"

The man in question marched into the dining room, followed by a gaggle of giggles. Or a giggle of gaggles. Willow was grabbing Xander and spinning him around, and Buffy was giving Spike the are-you-sure-you-aren't-planning-to-eat-him-in-his-sleep look that she gave him every time she saw him, and Rupert was standing toe to toe with Cordelia. He really was about the only person in the world who could stare her down.

Spike didn't try to tell Buffy - like he usually did -- that yeah, eating Xander was high on his list, only he liked doing it when Xander was awake. It made Buffy wrinkle her nose at him. Very unbecoming a Slayer, because she also giggled when she did it. Instead, Spike tried to grab Xander's hand and put it back where it belonged. If he didn't get it soon, he was going to glom himself fully to Xander, and that would make it a bit hard to eat lunch.

"Rehearsal dinner," Cordelia was explaining.

"I don't really have to pay for the wedding, do I?" Angel was asking.

"*Boytoy*?" Gunn was asking, looking from Spike to Wesley.

A tap on his shoulder saved Spike from having to answer that, and he turned around into another big smooshy hug. Only this one smelled like White Shoulders, so it had to be Joyce Summers. "It's about time, Spike. I mean, *I* knew it the first time I saw you two together!"

"Help..." he whispered. "Cordelia wants salmon and teal..."

"Oh, don't be silly. You can't wear teal. You're much more a lavender." She looked at him thoughtfully.

Spike turned to Xander, who was happily babbling with Willow, both of them talking at once and how they could *hear* each other was beyond him. Beyond Willow, Tara gave him a shy smile.

Then, from the other side of the lobby, he heard it. That terrifyingly familiar voice. Chilling him to the marrow. Freezing some poor pig's type A Negative in his veins. And it was getting closer. "Eew! Can't you people get around using electrical tunnels like in Sunnydale? Sewers... ick. Ickickick!"

It was almost at the door to the dining room now. Spike couldn't even blink. He was utterly motionless. She stepped into the room, a big grin on her face. "Okay, where's my Blondie-Bear? Somebody gets a *big* hug..."

"Xan? IloveyouIloveyouIloveyouIloveyou..." Spike babbled. "Hide me?"

Buffy shifted uncomfortably. "Um.. Spike?" He looked at her. Okay, he'd settle for being protected by the Slayer, though you'd think Xander would step in any minute now... Buffy grimaced. "She kind of means me."

"What?"

Spike watched as Harmony, and it was actually Harmony and not some undemonic possessed version, walked up and hugged Buffy. Then kissed her.

"Oh. Well, good for you." Spike was just relieved this meant *he* wouldn't have to put up with her. He wondered why no one besides him was looking surprised by the kiss. What, did everyone get the newsletter but him?

"You made good time," Xander was saying.

"I know I said we'd be up for the weekend, but once I informed everyone, they were all suddenly free to leave today." Giles smiled.

"We jumped in the car as soon as Giles told us!" Willow exclaimed. "We didn't want you two running off to Mexico to get married without us."

"Not Mexico. Sands and dust and scorpions bite. Rwar!"

Everyone turned slowly towards the door. Spike noticed *he* was the only one smiling. "Dru! You made it."

She smiled at them, and came over, smiling a bit as the humans and we-kill-you-for-a-living backed away from her. "Spike, the children are so happy. All the spiders, chomp! Chomp."

Which explained how she knew to show up even though nobody'd called her. Well, *they* hadn't remembered to, being busy with things on the floor, and Spike assumed nobody from Sunnydale had her number.

"Um, who invited the crazy vampire chick inside?" Gunn backed nervously into a corner, and Harmony, after making sure he didn't mean her, returned to sucking face with Buffy.

"The kids," Spike answered with a shrug. "You gonna try to explain to three uncontrollable piranha why their auntie Dru can't come visit them?" Angel gave him a stern look, and he shot a glare right back. "Hey, someday you too will have children who put you through as much misery as mine do..." Angel's eyebrows took off for his hairline and just kept going. "I mean, besides us." Spike was glad Xander was so good at stifling that laughter, even if it did look like it hurt.

"Charles, be *nice*," Wesley was scolding, quietly. "Drusilla *is* family."

Gunn groaned, and Dru turned towards the ex-Watcher. "Daddy!"

Angel started, when she headed for *Wesley*, who just smiled. "Hello, Drusilla. How are you?"

"Oh, my head is so loud, Daddy Wesley. All the singing, singing," she crooned, and swayed. Rolling her head around, and Spike was shocked to see Wes just nod.

"When did those two meet?" Xander asked.

"A long time ago, when the earth was green," Drusilla said sincerely. They looked at Wesley.

"Several years ago, before we all became the Brady Bunch," Wesley translated with a pained sigh.

Oh, he just *had* to say the BB words, didn't he. Spike groaned, as Xander started to sing. "It's the story, of a vamp named Spikey," he began, more or less not loudly. Didn't stop everyone from turning to look at him. Spike wanted to bury his head in his hands and pretend he didn't really know this git he was marrying.

Or, hang on, he could bury something else which would require dragging Xander out of the room because he'd likely be all huffy about being fucked in front of his friends.

"Who was bringing up three very lovely fish, all of them had shiny teeth, like their Auntie," Xander was still singing.

Willow giggled. Everyone else was sort of half-staring, half doing that 'isn't he cute' thing. Spike tightened his grip on Xander's hand and heard himself growling. Yeah, he was cute. He was *Spike's* cute, and everybody had better just stop looking at him.

"Singing! All the singing in my head." Dru pointed at Xander.

"No wonder she went crazy, if she's been hearing *Xander* singing in her head all these years," Gunn said, sounding a little more sympathetic.

"Hey, he's a good singer!" Spike felt the need to defend Xander, for some reason, even if it meant blatant falsehood. No, wait, he *liked* blatant falsehood. He was a *bad* guy, right?

"Am I late?" asked a cheerful voice from the hallway. "I brought those new CD-ROM's Spike wanted to borrow, and the dip. You did say dip, didn't you, Cordelia?"

"Think she said you *were* one," Spike muttered at Billionaire David Nabbit, TM. He was ignoring the looks he was getting from various incredulous people -- including Xander. Spike didn't know if he should be worried that Xander wasn't very appreciative of Spike's lying on his behalf, or lean over and lick that eyebrow that was arched up.

Cordelia moved through the crowd to greet David, and conversations started and re-started throughout the room. Wesley was trying to keep Dru's hands where they belonged, and prevent Gunn from doing something possibly permanent. Giles and Willow drifted into a conversation with Cordelia, David, and Joyce - possibly planning their future wedding, and maybe he ought to go over and be nice for just a moment. Teal. Spike shuddered. Not even *he* was that evil.

Everyone else scattered and chatted loudly, except for the two blondes still swapping tongues. Never one to give Harmony any credit for brains, he did have to admit she had a good idea. He looked back at Xander, and found him still doing the eyebrow thing.

Right, then. He leaned over and licked it.

Tasted like cucumbers, probably because after Xander had made him pick them out of the salad, Spike had thrown one of the slices at him. Stuck there for a minute, like a big slimy green eyepatch, and then fell. Xander had caught it and tossed it into the piranha tank, where Hubert chomped happily on it. Obviously took after *Xander's* side of the family. Xander wiggled the eyebrow, which tickled Spike's tongue, and of course required him to lick Xander's nose, just to get even.

Xander was grinning at him, and when Spike leaned back to decide which bit needed licking next, sang, "It's the story, of a vamp named Angel, who was living with boy toys of his own."

"I thought *Angel* was the boytoy," Buffy interrupted.

"Yeah, but it didn't work as well in the song," Xander told her. Spike grabbed Xander's chin and tried to turn him back to face Spike, so he could better form a plan of attack. Xander let him, but kept talking to Buffy.

"Does he know you sing that?" she asked, half dubious, half laughing. Spike was getting frustrated. She'd had her ten seconds, why didn't she leave them alone?

"Oh yeah. But when they're in the room, 'boy toys' mysteriously become 'dignified hard-working men of intelligence.' Doesn't scan very well, but it saves my ass from getting thrown in the pool." No it didn't. His arse got thrown in the pool all the time. What was he talking about? Spike growled.

Buffy just laughed at him. "I *told* you he was the cute one," Harmony said, chucking him under the chin. "My Spikey-wikey is just soooooo precious..."

Spike growled again, but Buffy growled louder and dragged Harmony away, muttering, "You said *I* was your blondie-bear now. You stay away from that bleached tramp."

Er... *which* bleached tramp? There were so many in the room...

He took a step after them, then realized they were *leaving*, which was exactly what he'd wanted. He turned back to Xander with a triumphant, smug grin. Xander looked like he was going to start laughing at him, again. Spike pouted. "Oh for god's sake, Spike. I was just-- hey!" He turned to greet Ethan. "Didn't expect to see you here." Xander's tone was polite and welcoming. Spike growled.

"Well, you know me -- never pass up a party," Ethan replied, giving them both a smile. It was the sort of smile that made Spike want to lock him up in a closet with Dru, see who screamed to be let out, first.

"You just happened to be in Sunnydale when I called this morning?"

"Well, actually--" He stopped, and looked at Spike. "Are you growling at me for a reason, William?"

Yes. Go away, I want to shag my fiance. Spike looked around, but there was no whap forthcoming, so he felt reassured that he hadn't said it out loud. "Grr... er... Yes!" Hell, he actually did have a reason. "You still owe me eleven pounds. I bet you couldn't drink Wesley under the table, and you couldn't."

"Well, I tried, but the moment I started to crawl under the table, his boy toys decided it was time to forcibly eject me from the pub."

"That wasn't crawling, Ethan," said Wesley. "You were sliding out of your chair. Insensible."

"I was not," Ethan countered. "I was merely--"

Spike didn't listen to any more. He pulled Xander towards him, and dragged him away from what would have been a bloody good show, if he cared. Maybe Cordelia would recount it for him, later.

"Where are we going?" Xander asked, happily. As if he hadn't a clue. Or did. Spike didn't say a word, just continued to pull him in the direction of the exit.

Uh-oh. Xander looked like he was having a thought. Not one of the good you-get-the-boysenberry-ripple-flavored-lube-and-I'll-get-the-blindfold-and-we'll-meet-in-the-library-in-five-minutes kind of thoughts. No. It was one of those thoughts that was distinctly non-boysenberry-flavored, purposely designed to make Spike growl loudly as Xander turned back towards the little knot of people currently gathered around Giles.

"Hey, Giles, I haven't seen Anya. Where is she?"

Spike whimpered. Who the bloody hell cared? Weren't three ex-girlfriends in the room -- four counting Angel, of course -- enough? They needed a fifth?

Giles extracted himself from the conversation he was in, and walked over. "I haven't been able to locate her, actually. After last week's little fiasco..."

Xander smiled. "Yeah. She can get moody. You left her a note?"

"Of course! She should be along, as soon as she gets back and finds it. I'm sure she wouldn't want to miss this opportunity to threaten Spike." He glanced at Spike, who glared back. *Mine*. Why didn't anyone seem to notice? "Something about 'be good to him or I'll dig out all the best vengance spells from the last thousand years?" Giles suggested, and it was clear from his tone he meant more than just Anya.

"Y'know, I don't think it's fair," Xander said politely. "I mean, everybody threatens Spike, but nobody seems to be worried about me being mean to *him*. What, I'm not scary enough for you people?"

There was a polite round of 'Oh, isn't he cute as a button' from everyone in a five foot radius, while Spike just tugged gently on Xander's arm. If he could only get Xander back to their suite, Xander could be as scary as he pleased.

"Don't be mean to Spike!" Harmony called obligingly from the other end of the room. Wasn't that sweet. Now if they'd *all* just cooperate and not be mean to Spike, by getting the hell out of his way...

"Actually, Spike," Angel said, as he made his way over. Spike briefly shut his eyes. What did he have to do, say it out loud? "After a hundred and twenty-seven--"

"Thirty-three years," Xander interjected. Surprised, Spike looked at him, feeling that warm, mushy, my god he really does, feeling in his stomach again.

Angel gave him a quizzical glance, then continued. "Of being an evil vampire, anything mean Xander could *possibly* do to you, you'd deserve."

Spike stuck his tongue out at his Sire. His broody, guilt-ridden, beat me I've been bad Sire who nowadays got his toenails painted pink by his lovers whenever he got unreasonably angsty. Angel just looked at him in that way that had always made Spike want to just keep sticking his tongue out at him. Or possibly demand, in a very scary way, "What?"

Angel turned to Xander. "Xander... don't be mean to Spike."

Oh, of all the soulful, sappy, rotten, make-me-sorry-I-told-everybody-where-your-*second*-tattoo-is things to say...

Almost made six years in hell spent looking around for a big tortured demon with a mousse addiction worthwhile. Even if the Powers That Be never did pay him for finally finding the bugger. Spike looked at Xander again. Or maybe they did.

Given that Xander was the only one he'd ever *told*. Not that he figured anyone else would care. Not when they were always too concerned with Angel, just because he'd been there for *500* years. What was a measly six? Xander was smiling at him, now. Not quite the blindfold and boysenberry smile, but more like the one that said 'I know you sleep in scooby-doo boxer shorts and will never tell a soul they aren't actually mine'.

What was six years? If it had got him Xander, it was everything. He realized he was getting entirely too mushy again, even in his head. He really needed a good shag. Make him all growly, again.

"Isn't that cute?"

Spike blinked, and turned to find Willow and Tara watching them. Giles and Angel had wandered off during his little deeply-gazing moment. Maybe if he did it some more, these two would go, as well. He tried it. Gazed deeply into Xander's eyes. They got that Doctor Pepper color to them, moving towards boysenberry ripple. Like maybe Xander would shake off these witches *for* him, and drag him upstairs to go not be mean to him again.

Well, a vamp can dream.

"Spike, what do you think about a Wiccan wedding ceremony?"

That got his attention. Suddenly he liked these two. "Yeah! Love it. Want one. Always did. Tell Cordy that's what we're doing." Xander was frowning at him, though. What *now*?

"Spike, we are not having a Wiccan ceremony."

"Why not?" he demanded.

"Don't you remember Willow and Tara's ceremony?" Xander asked, and by golly he was blushing. Acted like he wasn't, but yep, there it went, right along his neck. Red.

"Um, let's see... nope, don't remember a thing. Must'a been drunk." He rolled his eyes. "Of course I remember! And I loved it."

"You want to be naked in front of everybody?"

"It really isn't that embarrassing," Tara said. "Since almost everybody else is naked too, you don't think about--"

"*I* think about. And no." Xander shook his head.

"You'd rather wear teal?" *Spike* would rather see lots of naked people, personally. And he could care less whether *he* was naked, as long as he got to look at naked Xander. Soon, as a matter of fact.

Well, he could do without seeing naked Ethan. Or... shudder... naked Ethan in green fluffy socks. Still... He appealed to Willow's good sense. "Can't you give him your resolve face? I want a naked wedding."

Willow giggled, which was definitely *not* her resolve face. Xander was whapping him on the arm, too, which was either a bad thing or good. Maybe Xander should take him upstairs and give him a good talking to.

He waggled his eyebrows, hopefully. Xander just kept frowning. "We are not having a naked wedding. I'll let you talk them into swimsuits, but *no* naked."

"Swimsuits?" Tara asked.

Xander turned to her. "Yeah, the pool's fixed. Wes has this suit--"

"Not any more he doesn't," Gunn said. "So don't even think about it."

"But there's this stripe--"

Gunn whapped Xander on the head. Spike growled warningly. Xander whapped Spike on the head. Spike pouted. Expressively. Then he whapped Willow on the head. No particular reason, just seemed like the thing to do.

Then he grabbed his head.

And Willow smiled. "What, you thought I'd tune your chip so you could hit *me*? What kind of computer genius do you think I am?"

"Ow, ow, ow," Spike replied. Flipped her the bird, and was pleased to note the bloody-soddin' chip said nothing in response.

"I think blue and white would make excellent wedding colours," Xander was continuing, as if he hadn't just gotten Spike zapped by making Gunn whap Xander and so on.

Gunn was glowering at him. "I said *no*."

Xander grinned. "You say that like you have a choice. If we talk Wes into it, there's no *way* you can stop him."

"That's why you're not getting a chance to talk him into it." Gunn stepped closer, and Spike stopped trying to get some sympathy and coddling from his fiance, long enough to growl again. "You're gonna be lucky to be able to talk, period."

"What's this suit look like?" Willow asked, glancing towards Wesley.

"It's navy blue, with these white stripes that--" Xander's eyes started to cross.

Gunn's looked like they were about to pop out of his head.

"I think maybe the swimsuits would be a bad idea," Tara said gently. "They seem to cause a lot of trouble."

"Yeah, you shoulda seen him at the store, when he was tryin 'em all on," Spike told her.

Then Gunn was eyes-bugging-out at *him*. "What?" But Gunn turned on his heel and strode right for Wesley. Willow and Tara, eyebrows raised, followed him, obviously eager to get in on the gossip.

"Well, that worked." Spike looked at Xander again. Did his own best boysenberry ripple with no slimy veggies on the side smile.

"What worked?"

"Getting rid of everybody that was getting in between us and the door!"

Xander blinked, like he hadn't even noticed. "Why do we need nobody between us and the door?" Spike sighed, and tried the look again. Boysenberry. Blindfolds. No vegetables, but possibly lots of squeaking. There was a pause. Then, in a ever so slightly shaking voice, Xander said, "It would be rude to leave our guests." But his eyes were doing the dilating thing.

"They're not our guests. They're a horde of vicious invaders whose only purpose in the world is to make sure Spike never gets any again. Ever." He fluttered his eyelashes-- it was a last resort, but it almost always worked.

"Like you didn't just get some. Twice. What a big baby." But Xander seemed to be getting the eyelash-code, because he was drifting vaguely in the direction of the door, and Spike, attached to him like a certain very stubborn piranha who might just make them grandparents, followed.

"I have a short attention-span, remember?" But he let Xander know, with nothing but another look, that he hadn't forgotten a second of it.

Xander's face softened, though there was no dimming the arousal in his expression, at all. Xander reached up -- and for a moment Spike was afraid he was going to do something mushy and romantic in front of everybody. Not that he cared about that sort of thing, but it would attract attention. Attracting attention led to being talked to. Being talked to hindered escaping to someplace they could be naked.

He opened his mouth to say something to distract Xander, and Xander's hand landed on his face. Specifically, his fingers were on either side of his nose.

"Er?" Or rather, "Ehhuuu?"

"Got your nose." Xander's fingers slipped away, and when he brought them up in front of Spike's face again, the tip of his thumb was tucked between them. "See?"

Spike rolled his eyes. Of all the infantile... He wasn't going to check. It was obviously not his nose. And his fingers weren't twitching. He was *not* the second stupidest guy on the face of the planet. Xander said so. But with all the spellcasters in the room, you really never could be sure... Then inspiration hit and his hand moved fast -- towards Xander's. Grabbed it, and in doing so, forced it open.

Xander wriggled his thumb. Spike brought it up to his face and put the thumb into his mouth -- as if that had been all he'd been after. Sucking on Xander's thumb made Xander make those little noises which lead to louder noises and clothes being lost on top of furniture and under the stairway.

"Oooooh, my little boys are eating each other. Isn't it precious?" Dru leaned over Xander's shoulder, smiling her biggest smile and flashing a pair of anime eyes that would make Xander very jealous if he could see them.

"Gooo way, Dwooo," Spike said around Xander's thumb. Xander whapped him on the head with the other hand. He nearly let Xander's thumb fall out of his mouth. "Wha' was 'at fo'?" he asked. He grabbed Xander's hand again, to protect himself from further whapping. That was the only reason.

"Since when do I need a reason?" Xander countered, not trying to get the vampiress' chin off his shoulder. In fact, he looked positively content to have her there. Spike wondered if there was something kinky going on in Xander's brain that he didn't know about.

"Mmm, I bet he tastes good. Can I have a taste?" Dru moved around to stand to one side, right between them.

Spike tried to growl. Grrr. Mine. But... it was Dru. And besides, there was *always* something kinky going on in Spike's brain, though he'd long since given up any hope that Xander didn't know about it. "Errrrr..."

He looked up at Xander, hoping for a little moral guidance from the half of the wedding party that was supposed to have a soul. Xander was grinning at him. That little 'betcha think I won't' daring little grin. It made Spike growl, again, only this time he wasn't sure if it was to dissuade Xander, or a 'hell, yes' growl, or -- and most likely it was this -- a 'help, I'm losing my mind and I just want to be shagged' growl.

Xander looked at Drucilla. "Hey, Dru? You wanna baby sit the kids while Spike and I go make lots of scary noises?"

"Oh, my babies... they want to swim, they do. Swim, free, chomp and bite." She danced away, and Spike wondered if anyone had told her about the pool. And whether someone should mention it to anyone who was likely to be going for a swim, later. He considered it, briefly. Nope, still evil.

He turned his attention to Xander. "Scawy noisez?" he said, hopefully. Thumb still in mouth.

"I didn't cut up *all* the cucumbers," Xander said, that one eyebrow raising again.

"Oh." Spike sucked a little harder on Xander's thumb, at the same time moving for the door. Sucking Xander along after him. Xander laughed, and the delighted sound drew everyone's attention away from their conversations, for a moment. Spike saw several expressions turned their way -- amusement, curiosity, understanding. Arousal.

Grr. *Mine*.

Xander pulled his thumb free of Spike's mouth, and Spike felt himself falling into a pout again, even without meaning to. "Mine?" he said in a small voice. Not remotely talking about Xander's thumb.

"Well, duh," Xander replied, but his tone was gentle. "I just need it for a second." Spike started to count. One, one thousand, two, one thousand...

WHAP!

"That was two seconds," Spike said, looking at the smiling face in front of him. "And I love you too."

Xander took a hold of his hand, again, and suddenly Spike was the one being dragged towards the door. He waved at the crowd, giving them a cheery smile. "Lovely visit, wish we could stay--"

Detective Kate tapped him on the shoulder and kissed his cheek as he was dragged past. When the hell did *she* get here? The question left his mind as soon as it entered. Who cared? He was heading suite-ward with Xander.

Behind him, he heard Cordelia saying, "Aren't they adorable?" Hell, yeah, they were. He knew she was a smart one. Then, as they hit the stairs, his vampiric hearing gave him, "Now, I *really* think it should be teal." Over Spike's undead body would it be teal. He'd go naked first. Hell, he wanted to go naked anyway.

Thought. He batted it away, but it kept buzzing at him. "Er, isn't Dru in the suite, minding the kids?"

Xander stopped on the stairs. "Yeah." His eyes widened, then narrowed. He let go of Spike. "You get the boysenberry ripple. I'll get the blindfold. Meet you in the library."

Spike grabbed hold of Xander again. "Uh-uh. Rupes'll be in the library soon as he gets bored in there. Which *I* don't mind, but you said no, last time. Sides', I'm not lettin' you go off alone. You might get groom-napped."

A slow, wicked smile appeared on Xander's face. He gave Spike's hand a tug, and started heading up the stairs again. "You know... we *could*... are we out of earshot, yet?"

Only momentarily puzzled, Spike concentrated on the dining room. He could still make out what people were saying, so safe bet Angel could still hear them. He shook his head, and Xander hurried them farther up the stairs.

"Where are we going? I ask purely out of curiosity, mind." Xander didn't answer until they reached the third floor. The boytoy floor. "Xander?" Spike's eyes widened, appreciatively. They'd been threatened with worse than death and castration, if they ever stepped foot inside the series of suites his Sire and his two had taken over.

Xander glanced back at him, and whispered, "Hot tub."

Spike weighed the risks. Possibility of being turned into a newt, versus Xander plus naked plus hot tub plus naked plus Spike plus naked... "I'm in."

"Not yet, you're not."

"Give me two seconds, and I will be." Spike was already trying to shed his clothing, without letting go of Xander's hand. And got whapped. Again. Spike sighed. "*Now* what?"

"Not in the hallway -- you want to leave them a trail of breadcrumbs?"

Spike thought, which was hard, when you were... He didn't have the brain cells left to finish the pun. "Yeah. You're right. That's why you're the smart one and I'm the cute one."

Another whap.

"Wha?"

"*I'm* the cute one."

Spike thought it over. Not that he didn't agree, but -- "What does that make me?" Not pouting again, damn it, just asking. With a little extra chin jutted out.

Xander stopped at the door, and pulled him close. Body pressed on body made him wish he had lost his clothes in the hallway. "The sexy one," Xander said.

Spike purred. Just a little. Well, if you didn't know the difference between a cat and a vamp... Okay, fine, it was purring. He nudged Xander through the doorway, licking at his chin on the way. "Maybe we can both be the sexy---"

FLASH!

*****

Downstairs in the dining room, conversations were in full swing. Plans for the wedding bartered about with catching each other up on recent events, and the occasional -- or not so occasional --remark about Spike and Xander's hasty escape. The noise level was steadily increasing, but everyone heard Cordelia shriek. Vision-induced reflexes had Angel, Gunn, and Wesley at her side in an instant -- where they stopped. She was pointing at the stairway.

"Are those *lizards*?"

Wesley shook his head sadly. "No, they're amphibians. Specifically..."

"Oooh! Newts!" Willow pointed, dragging Tara over to the group in the doorway. "We need some newt tails! I didn't know you were raising them."

"No!" Wesley jumped after her. He beat her to the two newts, who had reached the lobby and were staring up at the gathering crowd. Wesley reached down and picked them up, and gave them a stern look. "And have we learned our lesson?" he asked them.

The newts looked at each other, then back at him. They shook their heads 'no'.

Gunn crossed his arms. "I think you should leave 'em that way."

Wesley considered it briefly, but Angel put a hand on his arm. "I think maybe we could let them off, just this once? It *is* kind of a special occasion."

"What are you--" Giles began. Then he looked at the newts again. "Spike and Xander?"

There were surprised giggles throughout the room. Wesley nodded. "To keep them out of our rooms." Wesley nodded at Angel, though. "All right. Just this once." And he set the two newts down, and chanted quickly.

FLASH!

Spike looked around. "Er. Hello again."

Right, obviously they needed to try this again. Maybe he could warn Giles to stay out of the library, and they could go for the boysenberry ripple idea. He started to reach out and tap Giles on the shoulder, when he heard a squeak from Xander.

"Eep!"

"You're not a newt anymore, Xan."

"Where are my *clothes*?!" Which was possibly the wrong thing to say, if he wanted to escape interested stares. Xander was still sitting on the floor, legs twisted in front of him to hide as much as he could.

"Let me get this straight, you own a magazine that's full of pictures of naked demons, and yet now you're embarrassed?" Angel asked. Wesley smacked him on the arm and glared.

"Like I can recognize any of their dangly bits?" Xander snapped. "Would *someone* get me a towel? Or a coat? Or a sword I can run somebody through with?"

"Ooh, Xander's naked!" This from Harmony, who had dragged Buffy up to the front of the crowd. "Hey, maybe he *is* the cute one!"

"Hey, I'm naked too," Spike protested, putting his hands on his hips.

Harmony made a pffft sound. "Yeah, but I've *seen* you naked. Lots of times." Buffy growled.

"Me, too," Angel said with a shrug. Gunn and Wesley nodded, as well.

"As have I," Giles added.

"And me," from Cordelia.

"Actually," Willow began, diffidently. "Me, too."

"Same here," Tara said.

Spike blinked. Bloody hell, had everyone in this room seen him naked? And was that why Xander was growling?

"Um, I haven't," David said slowly. Then he blinked. "Til now, that is."

"Towel? Coat? Sword?" Xander reminded them.

"Maybe I can help," Tara said. She grabbed Willow's hand, and began to chant.

FLASH!

"Oops." Willow looked at them. "I think we need to practice that one a little more."

Tara giggled. "No, that's what I was trying for."

Spike looked at Xander. Yellow thong. Looked much better on Xander than it did on His Poofiness. Looked down at himself. Green thong. He would've gone for red, but it would do in a pinch.

Someone pinched him.

"Oi!" He glared around at anyone standing close enough to have pinched him. They could look all they liked, but only Xander got to get his fingers *there*.

He found Xander grinning at him.

Spike grinned right back. He reached for Xander.

"NO! Nonononononononono!" Gunn grabbed Spike by the scruff of the neck. "Get a room. Now. One of your own."

"Bitch, bitch, bitch." But Xander was pulling Spike back towards the stairs, again. Backpedaling, so no one could see the way the thong didn't cover anything besides the dangly bits.

As they retreated, Willow said, "You know, I think Xander's right."

"About what?" Tara asked her, apparently used to feeding her wife straight lines.

"Maybe we should have a pool-side wedding..."

*****

When they got up the stairs to their floor, they paused outside the door to their actual suite. "Dru's in there..." Spike reminded Xander. Xander smiled, and opened the door. Spike looked inside.

No Dru. No kids. "Pool?" he asked, knowing his eyes were gleaming evilly, and not caring.

Xander shook his head. "It's locked."

"You don't suppose she'd head for the hot-tub?"

"I don't suppose I care," Xander replied. "She isn't here. We are. And we're mostly naked. I'm thinking we have better things to do than track down Drusilla. There are a dozen people downstairs. Surely among all of them, they can keep one insane vampire under control for a few days."

"One insane vampire with a tank of piranha in her hands..."

"She won't hurt the kids! She loves them!"

"M'not worried about her hurting the kids, m'worried about them all gettin' turned into newts!"

Xander frowned. Shook his head. "They'll turn 'em back. Eventually. Come on, don't you want to be naked and writhing? Or are you *really* that worried--" It was as far as he got. Spike yanked on his hand, pulling him into the room, towards the bedroom. Shedding clothes as he went, because who cared if he left a trail littering their path. Wasn't anything new or surprising in it, anyway. Of course, a trail of two thongs wasn't much... but it was the thought that counted.

As Spike pulled him down onto the bed, Xander grinned. And grinned some more.

"What?"

"Just thinking about insane vampires."

Spike scowled. He *knew* Xander didn't mean any vampires currently in the room. Xander moved his hand, then, and Spike decided he could think and say anything he liked. "Rrrrmmrrrrrrr..."

"What was that?" Xander moved his *other* hand.

"Purrrrrrrrr."

"Oh. That clarifies things."

Spike fought valiantly to actually speak English. Or at least Fyarl, in which he'd taught Xander the three most important phrases:

1. 'More cookies, please.'
2. 'Duck!'
3. 'Fuck me now.'

Number three was the only one that really applied, though, and Xander was well on his way to complying with it anyway, so Spike strove for the English.

"Said..." and he managed to get his mind together enough to direct his chin to stick out, though working the lower lip at the same time was a bit much to ask, "I was promised cucumbers!"

But Xander, big ole meanie that he was, didn't let go of Spike's happy bits and leave to go get cucumbers. Instead he stayed where he was, rubbing, and grinning at Spike like he was daft. Spike decided he'd have to get very stern with Xander.

Later.