Toothpaste (or "Why 24-hour Wal-Marts Are A Bad Thing")

~ Co-written by Mad Poetess [website]

Spike was trying very hard to balance everything. Vampiric strength was all well and good, but it didn't give you three arms. Pissing off a mage of the Left Hand Path could give you three arms, but Xander didn't suppose having one growing out of his ass would be extremely helpful to Spike in this situation.

"Are you having fun yet?" Xander asked with a snide grin, making no move at all to assist him.

Spike glared a glare of pure death, though he should've known at this point that it wouldn't help. Not when the only thing Xander had to do to annoy him was to let him keep trying to balance everything by himself. It was too easy.

When the watermelon started to slip off the top of the pile, Xander finally dived for it. Only, mind you, because he didn't want to have to clean up the aisles after Spike. It had been embarrassing enough at PetsMart, when Spike had let all the tarantulas out of their tank.

"They're creatures of the night, they need to be free!" Spike had whispered seriously in his ear. And then slipped out the back door snickering, leaving Xander to deal with the mess. Not this time, baby.

"Why the hell couldn't you just get a cart like I said you should?" he asked, taking the out of season fruit and three back-massage thingies from Spike's unwieldy pile. Spike didn't answer -- which was the first smart thing he'd done, other than get a multi-pack of lubricant and a bag of Menthol lozenges. He concentrated instead on balancing his new load of items, then gave Xander a cute 'I'm not a soulless demon, really' look.

Xander slipped another item out of Spike's arms, unbalancing his already unbalanced pet psychopath yet again. "And what the heck do we need 'A Very N'Sync Christmas' for?"

"It's a present!" Spike said quickly and defensively.

Xander narrowed his eyes. "For who?" He would've crossed his arms, but it was hard to do that while holding a watermelon, so he settled for tapping one foot against the overwaxed floor.

"Princess." Spike looked completely guileless. As guileless as he could, that is.

"Who said in front of multiple witnesses that N'Sync make her want to yak all over her shoes? Or rather, all over *your* shoes, since hers cost two weeks' salary?"

"It'll be perfect!"

Xander rolled his eyes and pulled two more superfluous items from the pile, causing Spike to hiss at him and tuck his pointy little chin over the top to prevent a spill. Nice to know it was good for *something* besides sticking out when sulking.

"Ok, what about the cucumbers? You don't even *like* cucumbers!"

Spike blinked. This time his expression said 'are you kidding?' "That's another pressie," he said, enunciating each word. "For good little boys."

Gulp. Xander wordlessly added the vegetables to his own pile and kicked his imagination repeatedly in the imaginary head for the blipverts it was sending him. He *used* to be able to blush when Spike said shit like that.

Of course, now *he* was about to drop everything he was carrying. Scouting down the shoe aisle, he saw an empty basket sitting on the padded stool at the end, and dove for it. Unfortunately Spike had the same idea.

It was either pure chance, or vampiric reflexes, which saved the watermelon. Everything else -- non-breakable, as it happened, scattered every which way. Spike, sitting on his side, looked over at Xander who was sprawled on his butt. Saying, with only his eyebrows, 'You will *never* get smoochies again. Ever.'

Finally Xander spoke, "Your line is 'I love you, Xander...' "

"*My* line? Who was it knocked me over when I was trying to get you a basket to carry all that stuff in?" Spike managed to look affronted, still lying on the floor.

Who's the more insane one, Xander thought to himself. The one who has no place in his worldview for the idea that he might be wrong, or the one who keeps trying to convince him that's not the case?

"You don't need a lover, you need a nanny," Xander said, getting up and gathering yet more questionable shopping choices from the floor. "Should I even ask about the thong bikini?"

"Thought you *were* my nanny," Spike said, sitting up but not standing. He sneered at a woman who tried rather pointedly to walk "around" him to let him know he was in her way. "Does this mean you're not buying me a lolly?"

"So you can stick it on the table lamp like you did with the last seventeen when you got tired of them?" Yes, he *had* counted. "I don't think so. You'll just have to find something else to lick."

Spike started to crawl towards him, with a happy look on his face.

Xander blanched. "No. No and no and... Spike, No!"

Spike stopped, still on his hands and knees. "What?" Then he grinned, and leaned back on his heels and held out his hand. "Well, come on, then."

This time he looked sincerely guileless... which made Xander paranoid. Wondering, not for the first time, what he was getting into, he held out his hand to help Spike up.

Spike stood, straightened his duster, then bent down to start picking things up and placing them in the basket.

"Excuse me, can't-keep-their-hands-to-themselves-boys, that's *my* basket," said a familiar voice.

"It was empty!" Spike protested, keeping a firm grip on the handle. With a fierce 'argue with me, I'm a Big Bad Evil Guy' glare, he put the CDs in the basket.

Wesley wasn't quelled. If anything, he looked rather amused. "It wasn't, as a matter of fact, empty," he replied. He reached into the pile and retrieved the yellow thong Spike had never explained his reasons for picking out.

Spike's eyebrows rose. Looking impressed, he said, "Yellow's your colour, mate?"

Wesley arched an eyebrow right back at him. "Not *on* me, no." And he turned the garment inside out to show them the Men's-Big-And-Tall tag.

Both Spike's eyebrows went up. Then he laughed, still sounding impressed. "You really think you can get him to wear it? Or -- wait, is it for the other one? *That* I can see."

"No." Wesley shook his head. "Gunn looks better in green."

"Gunn can buy his own dental floss, too," the man in question said, appearing from around the next aisle with a pair of Keds in his hand.

"Who was talking about dental floss?" Xander asked, feeling confused and only realizing too late that he probably didn't want to know the answer to that question. Wesley looked like he was about to explain, and Xander put his hands up. "No. No. Don't want to know, can't hear you, fa la la la la la la la la..."

Spike shook his head, sadly. Hs said to Wesley and Gunn, "I only take him out on weekends anymore. And then I have to sign a form that says I'll give him his medication."

Xander sputtered at him. "Medication? Medication? You wanna talk about medication?" He held up a little blue bottle of Vicks Vapo-rub. "What were you planning to do with *this*, since you don't ever get sick except in the head?"

Wesley and Gunn sneaked off quietly down the aisle, smart enough to avoid getting caught up in the return to World War Three, already in progress. Xander did hear Gunn laugh, though, when Spike explained, "It's *menthol*."

Xander gritted his teeth. "You have forty-four different flavors of lube at home, not counting the chocolate sauce and the raspberry sorbet, and now you need to ruin one of my very few good childhood memories?"

"How can Vicks Vapo-Rub be a good memory from *childhood*? Unless you got blowjobs from your little witchy friend--" Spike stopped as Xander slapped a hand over his mouth.

"Willow," Xander hissed, "does not now nor has she ever had sex. She is good and pure and holy." He blinked, and then stared straight at Spike, who looked like he was going to disagree. "Say it with me, Spike..."

"Mummphumum," Spike said agreeably. He reached up and pulled Xander's hand away from his mouth. "She's got a great arse, though, doesn't sh-- ow!"

"No." And he plinked Spike on the head with a cucumber. Again. Spike stared at him. He sighed. "Yes. Shut up."

"Xander?" Spike sounded like he thought his lover had lost his mind.

"Yes, Willow has a nice butt. Not that I've *ever* looked." Xander glared again. "And I meant using the Vapo-rub for what it says on the side of the bottle." He held the label directly in front of Spike's eyes, with the directions outwards.

"Keep away from small vampires." Spike tilted his head and looked at him. "Should I put it back?"

Xander threw it in the basket with a sigh. "I was referring to 'For External Use Only...' "

"Oh!" Spike grabbed the bottle out of the basket. "Oops! I'll just go put this right back, then," he said cheerfully.

Xander grabbed his arm. "You are not to be trusted alone in the pharmacy section, and anyway, it's too late. The picture's already in my head. The only way to get rid of it is to actually do it." He took the bottle back and tucked it underneath the CD's.

Then he spotted something red under the shoe-trying-on stool. He got down on his hands and knees again, stretching to reach the far corner to which it had rolled. He wasn't surprised when he felt a hand on his butt.

He hit his head on the under-side of the stool when he heard Spike growling, "Excuse me, I don't think that belongs to you."

Not moving an inch, Xander ventured, "Spike?"

"Oh, excuse *me*," another familiar voice said. "I just thought he'd want this '50% off' sticker removed from his ass."

Xander backed out, red rubber bouncy ball in hand. "You think my ass is too big?" he said to Spike, quivering his chin. Cordelia handed him the sticker with a little grin.

"I didn't put it there! Was just enjoying the view." Spike managed somehow to leer and look innocent... er, not guilty in this instance, at the same time.

"What're you two doing here, anyway? Isn't it past your bedtime?" Cordelia asked, as Xander pressed his lips together and finally stuck the '50%' off sticker on the side of Spike's head.

"What bedtime?" Spike asked. "It's not sunrise, I don't have to be in bed yet." He glanced at Xander. "Unless someone's moaning..."

Xander stuck out his tongue. Oh for the days when just a comment like *that* could make him blush. "We came in to get toothpaste."

Cordelia looked down at their -- Wesley's, actually, though he'd taken the thong and never had told them who it was for -- basket. "Yeah. I can see that." She looked more closely. "Actually, I can't. You don't have toothpaste, and you got the wrong brand of underwear. The Hanes are on sale."

Xander turned just a little pink. Oh, no, *Spike* couldn't make him blush, but Cordy touching his soon-to-be-underwear... He pulled the basket away from her. "I don't like Hanes."

"It chafes..." Spike stage-whispered.

This time he didn't pull his punch. His fist still bounced off Spike's shoulder with no apparent effect.

Spike, however, very sweetly said, "Ow."

Xander dropped the red superball into the basket, and Cordelia's eyes followed it as it bounced off the watermelon and landed in the Daffy Duck mug.

"Gag for Spike?" she ventured, knowing them entirely too well.

"Hey!" Spike protested. "I've already got two, you know."

Cordelia turned to him, eyebrows raising. Then she asked Xander, "Do I want to know?"

Before Xander could answer in the negative, Spike leered at her. "Black rubber one with the strap, and that little piece of red silk I picked up the last time you made me clean your apartment."

Xander smacked him on the back of the head. "That's *not* what she meant." Deciding that if it *was* what she meant, *he* didn't want to know.

Cordelia whirled on Spike. "Did you steal my red silk scarf? And ew, if so, not wanting it back but you are *so* buying me a new one!"

Spike, however, was looking at Xander with a puzzled expression.

"What?" Xander asked, dreading the answer.

"That isn't working, you know."

What wasn't working? His continuous prayers that he could find a remote control that worked on vampires? "Huh?"

"You hittin' me," Spike explained, fending off Cordelia's attempt to emphasize her point. "Unless it's foreplay, despite what you said last month. In which case, shoulda told me, we coulda been out of here an hour ago."

Xander closed his mouth firmly on the thought that every minute he spent with Spike, even at his most obnoxious, was foreplay. Well, every minute except the ones where it was actual play, without the fore. Spike had a big enough ego as it was. He grinned.

Spike grinned back. Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Fine. I'll buy it myself, and just make you pay for it." She stomped off, supposedly to find her new scarf.

Xander decided he should really stop looking at Spike's face. Really. Because the last time Spike had that look on his face in a public place, Angel had to bail them out. And he'd let them stay in the holding cell overnight before doing it. Eew.

Right. look at the basket. No, not that basket. *Not* helping, Xander. "Toothpaste," he said firmly. "We need toothpaste."

"Yeah," Spike agreed, and his tone was exactly the sort of tone that didn't help with the whole not-being-arrested thing.

"Um," said Xander. Toothpaste. Yeah. He looked down at the *correct* basket this time, and had a thought. "Don't we have that extra tube in the glove compartment?"

There was a moment of silence before Spike asked, "Why would we have toothpaste in the glove compartment?"

"Not..." Xander shook his head. "Never mind. Don't they have toothpaste at the end of the checkout aisle, with all the other impulse buys?" He started moving purposefully in that direction.

"Might have," Spike said, following along. "And if they don't we can always nick some of Wesley's."

Who was entering the checkout lane ahead of them, and turned to greet them with a not so happy expression.

"They were out of the 'Muscle Men of California' calendar?" Xander guessed. Ahead of Wesley in line, Gunn held up a calendar. Spike snerked.

"This," Wesley said, putting something in their basket, "Is yours. Rather, you're buying it. For Cordelia. And I only deliver messages, I don't justify them."

Spike snatched it out. "Oooh, silk!"

Xander smacked his hand. "You already have one, and you're *not* getting us in trouble with her *again*."

"Yes," Wesley agreed, still looking displeased. "I had to listen to her rant about exactly *why* you would be buying her a new scarf. You *do* remember I swore I'd stake you if I ever learned anything more about your sex life?" he demanded of Spike.

"This is a nice scarf," Spike said. "How she found something like this *here*, I'd like to know."

"That girl could find a Gucci in the city dump," Gunn said, shaking his head. "I mean, you'd have to listen to her bitch about bein' there in the first place, but she'd find it."

Spike's eyes lit up, of course. All he'd ever been able to find at the garbage dump was... well, garbage. "Say, d'you think I could get her to go with me to Morrie's?" he asked, naming a place which s old clothing. Of a sort.

Blank look on Wesley's face, but Gunn shook his head. 'Man, you couldn't even get her to go with you to Morrie's *mother's* house."

Xander was pretending he *didn't* know what kind of clothes they sold at Morrie's. He was pretending really hard. He was pretending so hard that he didn't notice Spike pushing up against him in line. Or maybe that was what he was pretending.

"S'your turn," Spike said to Gunn. Gunn smirked at something near Xander's waist, and turned towards the cashier. The girl was watching them all with amusement, Xander noted.

Then he was thinking more about Spike's body pushing up against his, and Spike's voice saying "Bet she'd be able to find you one that fits properly," in his ear.

Xander goggled at him. "She's not measuring me for it, I'll tell you that right now!"

"Oh, reckon she already knows," Spike said, leering again.

Well, yeah. There was that time she'd caught them in the hotel pool. And the time in the laundry room. And the time in the kitchen.

And the time in the... Xander growled. "And whose damn fault is that?"

"Yours? Who was it used to date her?" Spike was giving him another one of his 'you're insane' expressions.

"Everybody in this line except you, at one time or other," Xander retorted, "But I never... we never..."

"Excuse me," interrupted Wesley. "But the same goes for you as well. If I hear any more, get any more mental images of either you, naked, I am going to slay you both."

"You're up," Xander replied, probably saving both his and Spike's hides. Wesley snorted and shoved his purchases across the counter.

"Price check in Men's Swimwear -- Janssen bikini thong, size... um... extra-large," the checkout girl read over the loudspeaker.

Wesley just rolled his eyes. "It's $12.95, you could have simply asked."

"You never did say who those were for, and hey!" Spike said."Why is it you get to show us all about your bloody sex life if we can't do the same?" To Xander, he muttered, "Now I've got pictures of his Poofiness wearing that thong, in my head."

"Why is Angel wearing a thong in your head?" Xander muttered right back. "Shouldn't he be wearing it on his..."

"Yeah, he is. See my problem?" Spike asked.

"I never said it was for--" Wesley tried to assert, but neither Spike nor Xander were listening.

"Yeah, your problem is that you've got way too much imagination when it comes to picturing other guys in revealing swimwear," Xander hissed, nowhere near under his breath.

"Swimwear?" Spike asked, surprised.

"Oh for god's sake," Wesley muttered, and turned back to the cashier, handing over a credit card.

"Yeah, swimwear," Xander said, blinking. "What the hell did you think it was for?" He leaned past Wesley to snatch the garment in question from Wesley's bag, earning a startled "Excuse me?" Flipping the tag over, he showed Spike the picture-- an escapee from Gunn's calendar, stepping out of the ocean wearing a green version of The Thong.

Spike looked at the tag, keeping himself neatly in Wesley's way of retrieving it. "Oh, well, yeah. *Beachwear*, sure. Not sure you could *swim* in it, though. Maybe lounge around the pool, let your cabana boy bring you a mug of warm blood."

"Cabana boy?" Xander said with furrowed brow. "Again with dissing my clothes? At least I don't wear the 'I'm with Stupid' t-shirt Buffy gave me for my birthday."

"That was from *her*?"

"Of course it was from her. God, Spike, she had your picture silk-screened onto the back, just in case anybody didn't get who 'Stupid' is."

Spike looked at him, the very picture of hurt betrayal. Stared, blinked once, then his chin quivered. "Can I eat her, then?"

Xander bowed his head. "No, Spike, you can't eat her. If you eat Buffy, you'll be the only person left on the face of the earth who thinks you're the cute one."

"She really *does* think I'm the cute one?" He turned and snarled at the cashier, "What?! Oh, right." and began unloading his stuff.

"She... um... might've said something to that effect last New Year's. There was a lot of champagne. I think she thought you were somebody else," Xander replied. He grimaced a bit as Spike placed the multi-pack of lube directly on top of the two cucumbers and they slid slowly down the conveyer belt towards the cashier.

Spike waved him off, grinning like a loon. "Oh, I can't wait to tell her I know. I should call her," he said thoughtfully. "Can I have a quarter?"

"I think not," Xander answered warily. "I like you unSlain. Usually. And anyway it costs thirty-five cents now, and... you have my wallet in your hand, you dirty little pickpocket!"

"Already had a dime," Spike said lazily, opening Xander's wallet. He handed over a piece of plastic to the cashier.

She studied it politely and handed it back. "I'm afraid we don't accept this card, sir."

"What?" Spike took it back. Then he glared at Xander. "You've let your library card expire again."

"No I haven't. I just hid the new one so you can't steal it, check out dirty CD-ROMS, and then conveniently 'lose' them so I have to pay for 'em."

Spike was digging through the wallet again. "I never did, and they don't have those CD-ROMS at the library, I asked." He handed over another piece of plastic.

"Uh-huh. I suppose I checked out 'Leather Goddesses of Phobos' in my sleep, then?" Xander said sarcastically. "And you might as well give him back that one, too, miss. It's my AAA card."

"Don't you have *any* credit cards in here?" Spike groused, then tossed Xander back his wallet. He lunged forward and grabbed Wesley's wallet out of his jeans.

"I *beg* your pardon?!!" Wesley yelped, whirling around.

"Begging never does any good," Xander said with a resigned sigh.

"Trust me. At this point, only sex or beating him into submission will work." He smacked Spike hard on the hand, grabbed Wesley's wallet away, and threw his own debit card down on the counter. The debit card he'd been hiding in his *other* pocket. Spike, after all, was nothing if not predictable. Sort of.

Wesley's eyebrows shot up. "Oh, I can beat him, then? You don't mind?"

Spike growled at Xander.

Xander shook his head. "Nope. Only I'm allowed to beat him. Says so in the owner's manual."

Wesley accepted his wallet from Xander and moved quickly out of range with his bags. Spike growled at Xander, again. There was the slightest note of hopefulness in the growl.

Xander gave him an incredulous look. "Are you kidding? After the way you've been acting? You're lucky you're getting the sex part."

"I'm still getting the sex part? Yea for me." Spike gave everyone a smug smile.

Wesley began to reach inside his jacket. "Do you remember what I said about slaying you both?"

Xander ducked down behind Spike. "Didn't do it didn't do it didn't do it..."

Wesley grinned, pulled his hand out of his jacket, and handed Spike a tube of Crest. "Cordelia said you'd be needing this."

"Mmm... minty fresh..." Spike leered at Xander, waggling his eyebrows.