Pairings: Spander (eventually)
Appropriate Ratings: NC17 overall but this chapter... a soft R
Warnings: exhibitionism, GAY MEN!!!, angst, Death (talking about people they’ve lost)
Disclaimers: Not my characters. I make no money off this, I'm just playing. I promise to give them a bath and thorough cleaning when I’m done! Joss Whedon is my lord and Master. All hail Joss Whedon.
Short Summary: About five years post NFA, Xander needs a job, like, NOW! And runs into someone he knows where he'd least expect it.
Word Count: 3616 (As per MS Word Count) (DAMMIT! Was supposed to be shorter! I just… can’t decide where to cut it. SO SORRY, but it’s not that bad… I don’t think.)
Beta: tamakin, with some Spike help from limerickgirl. Thank you so much!!! Any errors are mine and mine alone.
X-posted to: perverted_pages, bloodclaim btvs_lightsout, btvs_slash, btvsatsdotcom, darker_spike, spike_fics, sxandviolence, spanderslash
Archived Outside LJ At: adultfanfiction.net
Comments please my muse and keep the story comming.
Quickly the brunette gulped back his drink, trying not to make a face when the bubbles fizzed in his nose. It had been a while since he’d been able to afford to buy pop and apparently he’d forgotten you can’t chug it without repercussions. He tried to daintily cover his mouth as he belched, but doubted he pulled it off. The bartender was smirking at him again.
“So, that is a show dance. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be quite as extreme as that, but the audiences reaction is what’s important,” he motioned back to the stage and saw a bouncer on stage with a push broom, collecting the piles of paper money on the stage and putting it behind the curtain for the dancer to sort out. The crowd melted from their jockeying for position around the stage and moved to jockey for position at the bar, chugging back cool drinks and brimming shot glasses. “As long as you have that, nothing else really matters.”
“There is a cover here, so you don’t have to share your tips with anyone but the DJ, since he’s technically under contract to the dancers, you guys pay him at the end of the night. You have to pay him five dollars per hour you’re on shift… don’t worry, everyone pays the same. The only thing is they get paid even if you have a shit night. Not their fault if you can’t dance, or call in sick, or what have you, they spin the tunes, they’ve done their job, they need to get paid. Remember that for any sick days you need to call in or when you show up late…” the bartender went on, listing rules of the establishment, lockers, song selections, what to do if a customer didn’t take no for an answer, how many drinks a dancer was allowed per shift on the house, alcoholic was only one, but bottled water was pretty much free… Xander couldn’t get a word in edgewise to tell him he couldn’t do it.
Xander was still flapping his mouth like a guppy gasping in air, trying to say something, anything, to make the bartender just shut up for a second and understand he couldn’t, not now, not after seeing him dance, not after knowing he was here… when the dancer in question walked up to the bartender who just wouldn’t SHUT UP! to get a bottle of water. Eyes locked, warm brown ones full of panic and shame, cool blue eyes full of shock and confusion.
“Hi Spike.” Times like this, I really wish I’d been sucked down into the Hellmouth when Sunnydale got turned into a crater. Where the hell is a roving homicidal demon pack bent on world domination to distract from my existence when you need one?
They were sitting in the back, in Spike’s dressing room. He’d had to go around for his tips, but being a manager meant he didn’t have to wait tables unless he wanted to or if they absolutely needed him. Thankfully, horrifyingly? Spike had his own dressing room, so they were alone. Totally alone with a truly naked Spike changing into street clothes. Xander did see, through his fall of hair and dark lashes, that Spike had kept it up on stage thanks to a rubber cock ring at the base of his cock. Spike took it off and for a terrifying second, Xander thought he’d be asked to help with the situation before he noticed it was slowly deflating on its own. He let out a breath he hadn’t known he’d been holding, relief washing over him.
Spike pressed a water bottle into Xander’s hands before he disappeared into the tiny private shower cubicle for a quick wash. When he got out, toweling his hair, Xander hadn’t moved. He radiated misery, humiliation, shame, and outright desperation. Spike slipped into a pair of carefully torn, tight black jeans that showed off his body artfully before he spoke.
“They sent you to find me Harris?”
“What? What? No! No one sent me, I… I didn’t even know you were still alive! Last we heard there was a big showdown in L.A., Wesley and Gunn died, Illyria… we actually don’t know what happened to her, Angel went off to Tibet, to study with the monks, or bite some monks, or save some monks from biting, something…. I’m almost sure there was biting mentioned, or maybe that was just what Deb joked about Angel and not finding any bagged blood out there and what was he going to do for, well, blood and then…. Well, yeah, never mind, you don’t need to know that and you probably know what happened to Angel better than anyone.” Xander took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down. He was babbling a mile a minute and he knew it was just to keep from saying… to keep from remembering. Procrastination was a fine tuned art, but it wasn’t going to work this time.
“Anyways, we lost all track of you.” His voice was somber and he looked away from Spike, not able to look him in the face while he spoke. This had been hard on everyone, hit each of them in different ways, surprising ways. It changed them all, some of them forever. “Everyone was sure… was sure you were… you were finally dead. No one heard anything about you surviving, no one! Buffy was devastated, until she got sucked into another battle of Armageddony evilness and was just… she couldn’t… she didn’t make it.” Xander fidgeted with the bottle and blinked rapidly to hide his tears. Even though the vampire could still smell them Xander felt he had some dignity to maintain. He couldn’t stop talking, he hoped if he didn’t shut up, Spike wouldn’t ask… wouldn’t wonder, but of course he did and would! He just… really hoped. One emotionally wrenching topic was always a good cover for another you were desperate to hide.
“They told her to retire, you know? They said that with all those new Slayers popping up she could stop, and just… just be normal, like she always wanted. She could have gotten a job training the girls, or finding them, or hell, sitting on her ass and watching it get bigger. She’d done her part, everyone… everyone agreed. She couldn’t though. She tried it for a while, but went stir crazy. She was soon sneaking off to fight, ‘accidentally’ finding herself in bad situations or where demons would show up… Finally, they re-instated her, it would be easier to keep track of her if they knew where she was right? Easier to protect her and send back-up when she needed it if they knew what she was fighting where. They sent her off to her first real battle since Sunnydale, and she… didn’t come back. No one knows what really happened.” Xander finally took a sip of the water, washing the bitter taste from his mouth.
“What’re you doin’ here then, Harris? ?” Spike sat opposite him in a metal folding chair, resting his elbows on his knees as he leaned closer, his voice low, but full of carefully? hidden pain.
“I needed a job,” Xander whispered.
“That why you’re here? Nothing to do with needing me back,” he asked carefully. He fidgeted his fingers back and forth against each other, obviously itching for a cigarette.
“No Spike, for once the world doesn’t revolve around you saving it again. No one even knows you’re alive.” Xander glared up at him, exasperated at his vanity. This had nothing to do with HIM, this was about Xander, the Xan-man, the stupid Zeppo who couldn’t get anything right.
Spike nodded to himself, “Good.”
“That’s all you have to say? I just told you Buffy is dead, and that’s all you have to say?” When in pain distract from yours by causing pain to another. Apparently Cordelia taught me more then she knew. He felt stupid the moment he said it, not wanting to be so abrasive, so confrontational. He knew Spike was in pain… he wasn’t that stupid.
“Things’ve changed since I left you lot,” Spike shrugged unapologetically. “I don’t fight, I won’t fight. I watched too many good people die again an’ again. I don’t have it in me anymore. I know it, accept it. Buffy was gonna die on some foolish soddin’ quest, everyone knew it… an’ I may not show my pain, but I bloody well feel it. I left her so she could live a normal life… guess she tried, an’ did as best she could. I gave her what she bloody well WANTED, so don’t you go getting all high and mighty on me!” Spike was up on his feet, pacing, snarling. He picked up and threw a glass vase with black and white roses across the room, watched it shatter against the wall while he tried to get himself back under control.
Xander bit his lips together and fought the urge to flinch. He’d hurt Spike, that wasn’t new. They’d hurt each other time and time again in various exploits, so why did this feel wrong now? It couldn’t be because of his soul, he’d had that before. It couldn’t be because he was finally human, Xander didn’t think he was that shallow… he hoped he wasn’t that shallow. Maybe it’s because I finally grew up. Or maybe it’s because I’m finally being honest with myself.
“You don’t know me Xander, you don’t know anything about me, and if you think for one minute that I don’t care that she’s gone, then you have even less of a clue than I thought.” Spike looked away, suspicious dampness on his cheeks which he toweled away when he rubbed his hair again, ostentatiously drying it further… obviously just trying to keep his pain private.
Xander frowned, realizing for the first time just how real Spike’s emotions were. Before he’d always assumed they were a ploy, a way to get something he wanted, all the grief and sorrow he showed when Buffy died that second time had to have been faked… unless it wasn’t. Could he have been so wrong about Spike? “I’m sorry Spike… I’m not… look, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you, or hurt you, or, whatever. I just… didn’t know you were alive, alright? Bit of a shock here! Also, really didn’t want to see anyone I know! You aren’t the only one hiding out here.” Xander slouched back in his chair and took a swig of the bottle, feeling burning shame eating him up inside, making his stomach clench.
“Weren’t you a Cyclops?” It was the closest Spike could come to apologizing, or accepting his apology. A change in subject was the best he could do.
Xander looked up at him, startled, and reached towards his left eye self-consciously. “Yeah… Willow magicked me a new one for my trip to Africa. Kinda hard to keep an eye out for lions and hyena’s when you have poor peripheral vision and no depth perception. Not to mention the demons and roving gangs of slavers and whatnot. So yeah, got me a new eye. Willow said I could have any colour I wanted, she’d make the other match, but I liked brown. It’s what I had and means I don’t have to change my driver’s license info or answer uncomfortable questions with my optometrist.” Xander took the peace offering with casual acceptance. It was the best he could do too.
Spike let a smile slowly curve his lips. “Good… I like your eyes dark, all soulful and sweet, like chocolate.”
Xander quickly took another sip of water, his mouth was suddenly dry and his head was spinning. Was… did… did Spike just… flirt? He remembered Sunnydale and Spike’s gift of gab. He’d change the subject so often you’d never know if you were coming or going… it was perfect to keep his own emotions hidden. It couldn’t have been more than that, Xander told himself.
“So, you wanna dance, huh? You got any credentials? References?” Spike grabbed his own bottle of water from the little mini fridge beneath the vanity table and took a sip, watching Xander fiddle with his half empty bottle, shoulders hunched protectively.
“It’s alright, I’ll find another job, I don’t… don’t want to bother you.”
“Enough of that, you’re obviously desperate, seein’ as you’re here. Just tell me if you have any experience.”
“Yeah… the Fabulous Ladies Night Club in Oxnard,” Xander muttered and took another sip. He eyed the lowering water levels in the bottle and idly wondered what he’d do with his hands once it was done. He hadn’t felt this nervous and twitchy in years, not since Sunnydale went down.
“Ever dance for blokes before?”
Xander fidgeted under his intense scrutiny, “No, never.”
“You do realize this is a gay club, right? They will touch you, make cat calls, ask for your number, put money in your knickers and at your feet on stage while you strip, you know that, yeah?”
Xander scowled and rubbed his eyes, trying to keep a civil tone, “I’m not an idiot Spike, I know what goes on here, and the bartender gave me a brief rundown.”
“You that desperate then, for a bit o’dosh? What’s really goin’ on Harris?” Spike’s voice lowered to an almost murmur, eyes searching his for any sign or hint as to what was going on. “You had a lovely job in Sunnydale in construction, you can’t ‘ave forgotten how to put a nail through wood.”
Xander decided to ignore the possible innuendo, and instead concentrated on trying to think up some plausible story, any plausible story, but kept coming up blank. …Not like he’s going to tell anyone, not like he’ll really care.“I don’t want them to find me, alright? Thing’s… happened in Africa. It doesn’t matter what, but I ended up quitting the fight. I can’t go back, I just… can’t. Last time I took a construction job they found me, needed my help for some fight or another, and I ran. Well, actually I walked away, but it ended the same. Turns out they didn’t need me after all, everything worked out fine. Part of me is ashamed of running away when they asked for help, part of me wants to rub their faces in the fact that they don’t need me and another part of me is feeling really… really… hurt that they didn’t need me after all and yet another part of me just… wants to be left alone.”
Xander got up suddenly and paced the length of the dressing room, running his fingers through his shaggy hair. He couldn’t seem to sit still but he couldn’t bring himself to talk while he was moving so he sat down again, leaning towards Spike, as if the less space the words had to travel the less humiliating, less real. “I’m tired Spike. I’m tired, I’m human, and I failed, and I can’t… I can’t have people depending on me with their lives anymore.” Xander kept his eyes locked on a bit of fluff on the linoleum tiles, he couldn’t even look at Spike’s feet. He hadn’t told anyone this, ever, and wasn’t sure why he was telling Spike now.
Spike grabbed a cherry flavored licorice whip from a crinkly bag on his vanity and started chewing it absently. “Right then, why you need the dosh? Must have another job somewhere pays the bills, gets you by?”
“Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t know I’d have my reasons for wanting a job taking my clothes off for men dissected before I… I just need it, alright?” He felt irritated and rather annoyed. Who the hell did Spike think he was anyways? Asking him all these questions? Oh, wait, right… he’s the manager.
“I need to know why, ‘cause you look like shit, Harris. An’ I’m not about to get you all set up here on my say so to later find out you’re only doin’ this to support a habit. I have no addicts here, not a single bloody one. And I’m not about to change that policy, even if you are a friend, of sorts.”
Xander looked up at him, surprise on his face. “I don’t do drugs Spike. You know I don’t drink, not really, not with my family’s history with the stuff.” He took a deep breath, ran his hands harshly through his hair and came to a reluctant decision. One more truth wouldn’t change anything.
“I’m short on rent and am about to be evicted. I can’t have a job that involves social insurance numbers. Most people won’t hire me because of that, and those that do seem to think it means they have more rights to me than just general labor. I haven’t been eating right, what with the lack of money and needing to pay for food. I haven’t been sleeping right because of the nightmares and my upstairs neighbors arguing over who cheated on who with which prison convict. I just need a job Spike, where I can make enough for rent, enough for food, and where they won’t fucking find me again.” His voice cracked at the end and he hastily cleared his throat, trying to pretend it wasn’t emotion that had choked him up. Why did he feel like crying? Why did he feel so empty, so hollowed out?
It’s like I carried all that in me so long, it took over everything else… He felt much better since he shared his burden, but now he was all anxious about what Spike would think, or do. Okay, I lied, I can’t find another job. I’ve been TRYING to find another job, oh god I hope he gives me this job…
Spike nodded to himself and got to his feet, finishing off his water. “Let’s strike a deal then, yeah? I let you pass the interview, you put on a show for the owner in the crowd, he makes final decision. Deal is, I help you prepare your first dance and you come out to dinner with me. I hate eating alone.” He held out his hand and pulled a wide eyed, thoroughly confused Xander to his feet.
“I got the job?” And food? He’s buying me dinner? I should say no, I’m not a charity- his stomach growled audibly and he winced. Okay… maybe a little charity would be good, but I’ll pay him back! I’ll impress the owner, and I’ll pay him back, he vowed to himself.
“Long as you don’t stink up the stage, yeah, and with me helpin’ you get ready for it, you’ll be fine,” Spike led the way to the front door, waving at the bartender, and heard quite a few cries of astonishment and dismay that Spike was going home with an apparent patron. He knew he’d probably gain a lot more admirers though, more young bucks looking for a chance at a dream, and the fact that someone had succeeded would only make them try that much harder. Some of his regulars wouldn’t be nearly as enamored since the promised land had someone else’s flag embedded in it… but they’d be placated easily enough when they saw it was just an interview for an employee and nothing more.
Xander heard the grumbling and rumbling and really hoped they’d settle down when he went up there, instead of holding this against him. He wanted to tell them not to worry, that he’d never have sex with Spike, but then he was afraid he’d have to explain further and end up telling them he’d never have sex with any of them, because… he didn’t do that. If he told them that much he could kiss any tips goodbye. Besides, he didn’t want to insult Spike when he was being so strangely nice to him.
He opened the door, and felt the fading sunlight hit him full in the face. With a panicked “YEEK!” he slammed the door shut, startling everyone within hearing distance.
“SPIKE! How about we… do that thing… in a little bit, huh?”
“What’s got you in a lather, pet?”
“Your um… allergy!” He whispered harshly, “The sun hasn’t set yet!” Xander was nervously blocking the door, watching the patrons eyeing the new weird guy who’s being taken home by the hottest of the hot. I so did not think “hottest of the hot”. I did not! No I didn’t and you can’t prove it!
“You daft git, I had that allergy seen to ages ago. Got me a treatment I did,” Spike pushed Xander aside and opened the door, stepping out into the dim light, a slight smile on his face as he took a deep breath, enjoying the warm caress. Xander stared at him, utterly gobsmacked.
Xander scurried out of the bar when his paralysis broke and caught up to Spike on the sidewalk heading towards some restaurants. He couldn’t stop staring, his eyes wide in wonder and shock. “You get a new Gem of Amara or something? I thought there was only one of those anyways, and Angel turned it into glitter. What happened Spike?” Xander spoke in a breathy whisper, trying not to attract attention but also still too stunned to draw in enough air to speak properly. Spike was in the sunlight, and not going crispy! It was enough of a shock to banish his brooding thoughts on why he was here, and he idly pondered if Spike had done this on purpose just for that.
“I’ll tell ya over a pint mate, talkin’s thirsty work.”
Previous parts found here.