CHAPTER 7 - A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE
At Spike’s shouted request, Tom brought fresh drinks and a bowl of pretzels and sat them on the edge of the table. Xander handed over the beer and picked up the coke for himself, tilting it towards Spike. “Cheers.”
Shifting the food away from the pool table, Spike followed suit, tipping his bottle with a hint of his evil grin. “Bottoms up!”
“I heard that,” Spike told him, watching as two striped balls were sunk. “Very nice. Look’s like you’re in fine form tonight.”
Xander shook his head and mumbled under his breath as he leaned in to make the first break. “Subtlety thy name is William the Bloody.”
“Always in fine form Bleachie. Haven’t you been looking?”
Spike raked his eyes over Xander. Fine form, yes indeed. This young man was strong, broad, solid, just getting used to himself as an adult and could only improve from here.
“Been looking and liking, Harris,” he told him. “As have you.”
Xander met and held his blue eyes, then audaciously let his gaze run down Spike’s body, lingering over toned abs and firm thighs. “That I have. It is a spectator sport isn’t it? Non-contact of course.”
“Non-contact?” Spike looked at him incredulously but then caught himself. Don’t push the boy, he’s still healing, take it at his pace. The wait is worth it in the end. “Bloody hell. Fine, non contact.”
Xander nodded, tilted his head back and swallowed down the last few drops of his coke. “For now.” Spike’s eyes were still on the curve of his neck as Xander went back to his game. He smirked at Spike “Focus vampire, you’re drooling.”
“Oi, can’t a fella admire? Wasn’t drooling either.” Spike pointed at him. “And you are a fang-tease, Harris. You know I can’t bite.”
“Would you if you could?” Xander asked moving in closer to Spike.
Spike reached out and stroked a finger alongside Xander’s neck, just a hair’s breadth from his skin and said softly. “Only if you asked nicely.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Xander whispered, looking directly into his eyes.
Spike was in a daze, he could hear Xander’s blood rushing so clearly, could smell the pheromones pouring off him. Too soon really, to even be thinking about it, but the boy had unknowingly exposed the most vulnerable part of himself. Unknowingly? Perhaps. Spike shook himself out of it and stepped back. “Right play on, let’s see what else you got.” While Xander sank his next few balls, Spike wandered to the opposite side of the table.
Xander lined up his shot and pulled his arm back just as Spike repositioned himself in Xander’s eyeline. Spike stood still at the table his hand idly slipping back and forth over the wet length of his beer bottle, his thumb reaching up tracing the edge of the open neck. Xander tried to ignore it, but with what Spike was doing to that bottle? No chance. His shot bounced off the cushion, his target sitting untouched. Damn vampire and his suggestive hands.
“Don’t think that bottle’s gonna get any harder.” Xander waved his arm vaguely in Spike’s direction. “And I’m sure there’s rules about that kid of thing.”
Spike considered him over the top of his bottle as he drank, his tongue snaked out to lick at the drops of condensation trickling down the neck while he thought.
“Let’s pretend, just for a moment shall we, that maybe I am an evil vampire and don’t play by the rules.”
“Maybe you’re trying to distract me.” Xander stepped back from the table, while Spike wandered around examining the lay of the balls.
He stopped directly in front of Xander, leaning his body in as close as he could without touching. “Is it working?” Spike whispered.
Xander shivered. “Definitely working.”
“See? Evil,” Spike said smugly as he pulled away, continuing his circuit of the table. He’d chosen his ball, sunk it and was lining up the second shot when a movement to the side caught his eye. Turning his head a little he saw Xander had pulled up his chair and was sitting, or more accurately sprawling, in the seat, hands behind his head, legs stretched wide out in front, a lazy, relaxed look on his face. Oh that was just delectable. His workman’s muscles were straining at the clothes as Xander flexed. His jeans pulled tight, his shirt riding up a bit there at the sides. Spike wondered just how soft that skin was, how it would taste if he were to lick from that one hip to the other. Roving his eyes further, he could see the shirt pulling across Xander’s broad chest, the long line of his throat, the curve of those lips that came to a peak in the centre, his dark brown, shining eyes that were staring at Spike with an amused gleam. Spike lifted a brow in question.
Xander chuckled at the vampire paused in mid shot with the lascivious look on his face. “Been a hard day. I’m just taking it easy”
“Not many who can make it look like that.”
Xander flexed his body and flashed Spike a self-satisfied smile. He knew Spike would be a while at the table, would most likely clear it before Xander got another look in. He sipped on his coke, snagged a handful of pretzels and settled in. He didn’t mind missing out, it meant he could concentrate on this. On Spike. Pouring himself over the felt to reach, sliding the cue between his loose fingers, gripping the end in a tight fist, twisting and contorting his lithe body to make unnecessarily awkward shots. They way he moved was so feline, so fluid. Xander could only imagine what it must look like when Spike was not covered in those tight black clothes what it would feel like to have those muscles moving under your hands. Now there was a thought. The kind of thought that shot those tingling sparks through his gut and put a twitch in his groin.
“You’re up.” Spike held out the cue and cocked his head, watching as Xander stretched one last time before he made to stand up. “Unless you want me to play for you. I don’t mind if you want to, ah, relax again.”
Xander smiled at him. “How very selfless of you.” He slid the cue from Spike’s hand and looked the table over. Spike had cleared all but one of his balls and Xander had no trouble potting a few of his own.
“You know I used to watch this on TV with my dad when I was a kid. Always made me laugh they way they stuck their ass out at the camera.” Xander mimicked the memory, stepping back, laying low over the edge of the table and waving his hips while he lined up.
Spike smiled appreciatively at the view. “Cheap shot Harris. And I don’t think that’s quite how the pros do it. But I’m not complaining. Definitely makes the game worth playing.”
“Hey you have some eye-catching moves yourself.”
Spike smirked and grabbed his beer, taking a long swallow and draining the bottle. “More than a century of experience under my belt, bound to have more moves than you.”
Xander bent in for his next shot. He looked down his cue at Spike, holding his eyes with a steady, loaded gaze. “I have enough experience with this game to show you some moves.”
Spike’s raised his brows in question at Xander and asked carefully, “We still talking about pool here?” When Xander didn’t answer, didn’t flush or even look away, he said, “So then you know what you’re doing?”
“Really do.” Xander nodded slowly. He missed his next ball and wandered over to Spike, leaning his hip on the table. Resting his hands on the top of his cue, he regarded Spike. “I hope you’re not just playing for the quick hustle?”
“Nope. Never been my style.” Spike told him as he dropped his last coloured ball. When he stood back up he found Xander standing very close beside him.
Xander laid a hand lightly on Spike’s hip. Looking directly into wary blue eyes, he leaned in and pressed a brief soft kiss to Spike’s mouth. “Mine either.”
Spike pulled back, a small surprised smile on his face and bent down to line up his last shot. “Eight-ball, side pocket.”
Xander watched Spike skilfully sink the black. “Nicely played.”
“Yeah good game Harris.” Spike was surprised and more than a little pleased. As the night moved on, Xander had relaxed more and more. Spike could see the tension leaving him, the confidence returning and that light-heartedness that Spike so enjoyed, had settled over him again. “But what happened there mate, you broke the rules. You said non-contact. ”
What had happened there? Minor breakage. But he couldn’t help it. Standing so close and seeing that striking face so near, hearing that he wasn’t just being played, all led to a tiny crack in the rules. That one rule he wasn’t quite ready to completely shatter.
“Didn’t break it, just cracked it a little, And, hey I made the rule, I can choose when I break it pal.”
Spike snorted. “Make sure you let me know when I can too, yeah?”
“You’ll be the first to know. Promise.”
As both moved to pack away the equipment, the sound of a bell rang out through the pub. Xander looked at Spike in confusion.
"Means last drinks,” he explained. “One for the road?”
“Sure, I’ll go. Beer ok?” Xander left Spike to put the cues away and headed for the bar, jamming his hands deep into his pockets so that his jeans stretched even tighter across his rear.
Spike positioned himself where he could easily watch Xander. Cheeky bugger. As if those pants weren’t tight enough as it was. And then he goes and leans on the bar like that too. Damn shame the lad had kept himself covered up for so long. Xander glanced over his shoulder flashing Spike a happy smile. Ostensibly, Spike was concentrating on putting things away, but he also wanted to keep an eye on the boy. Not just because he was a pleasure to see, and he was an absolute pleasure, but the attention he had been drawing from the Hokard demon was bothering Spike. It hadn’t made a move, but also hadn’t taken its eyes off Xander for the last hour or so. As Spike cleared up the last of the balls his eyes switched between the little blue demon and Xander.
Xander leaned on the bar, ordering Spike’s beer and another coke for himself.
“So, you’d be Spike’s boy?” Thomas asked him.
What had he been telling Tom? Xander smirked over at Spike, then looked at Tom with amusement. “Ah, no. I’m my own boy, er, man. Just having a drink with a friend.” Friend. It was good trying that word on. Spike. Friend. Yes, very good.
“Friend? Right-o then. Only, I wouldn’t mind havin’ a friend that looked at me like you do him. Or one that kisses me like that.”
“And how exactly do I look at him?” Xander asked.
“Like he’s the tastiest thing you ever laid your peepers on.” Tom handed him the drinks. “Can’t blame you either, he’s one fine specimen. Oh, don’t tell my wife I said that.”
Xander mimed zipping his lips. “Wouldn’t want to get you in trouble with the missus.”
“Oh no. No, no. She’d be glad to hear it. She thinks he’s a real looker.” He added in a conspiratorial whisper, “Problem for me is she’d want me to, ah, invite him home, if you know what I mean.”
Xander, who knew exactly what he meant, looked over to Spike, caught his eye and grinned. “I’ll remember that.”
“I don’t mind lookin’, its like appreciatin’ a nice paintin’, doesn’t mean I want to go and get all up close an’ personal with the canvas, you know?”
Spike could see Xander and Thomas chatting away and with Xander’s occasional smile in his direction, he could only imagine what Tom had dredged up to share. Still, nice to have a smile directed at him for a change instead of a weapon. Definitely nice to see a smile on the boy.
A movement on the far side of the room caught Spike’s eye. The Hokard demon, resembling a weathered and worn nine year-old in a black business suit, was weaving its way over to the bar on unsteady legs, still ogling Xander. Spike’s demon twitched. It did not regard Xander as a possession but recognised him as significant and that triggered a protective urge in Spike. He wandered as casually as he was able, to intercept the Hokard. The tiny demon was now between him and Xander. Spike veered off to his right and came face to face with his target. Face to chest more like, he towered over the surprised Hokard. Bending down to speak quietly but menacingly into what he hoped was its ear, Spike said, “You wanna fuck off back to your table if you know what’s good for you sunshine.”
The demon looked up at him with unfocused rolling eyes, swaying slightly and spoke with a surprisingly low raspy voice. “That one is very appealing. I will have it.” It tried to step around Spike but his hands squeezing painfully into its shoulders stopped it cold.
“I must have it,” the demon pleaded.
Spike crackled into game face and growled, “You take another step towards that boy I’ll knock you arse over tit through that window, cause outside? Tom don’t much care what happens.”
“It is yours?”
Spike growled in answer, baring his fangs.
“I am apologising master vampire. It was very alluring. I will take my leave.”
Cursing Tom’s house rules about not tearing this creature apart inside the pub, he warned the demon, “See that you do.” Spike shook off his demon face and allowed the Hokard to hurry around him and out the door.
He saw Xander was collecting his change and their drinks and headed over to the bar, taking the stool next to Xander. “You ladies finished with the gossip?”
“Yep, collected plenty.’ Xander told him with a sly smile drinking down most of his coke.
“Tom what have you done?”
"Nothin’, I done nothin’. Well, I may have accidentally let slip that my Rose thinks you’re pretty.”
“On bloody hell. I am not pretty, I am an evil master. Can nobody remember that?”
Xander patted his hand patronisingly and chuckled. “I’ll try really hard from now on. But if you will both excuse me, humanity calls” Xander slid off his stool, heading for the men’s room.
“You’ll have your hands full with that one, me ole mate.” Tom told him with a frown, nodding towards Xander.
Spike sighed. “You are not bloody wrong there Tom. Listen, before he comes back.’ He checked over his shoulder. “What can you tell me about Hokards. That one was making a beeline straight for him.”
“Ah, let’s see. Rose would be better at this but she’s closing up the kitchen. Those little pissheads, a few drinks and anything is fair game. And, oh, a long barb, right arm, sprays a venom. If it hit your boy there he would be out for maybe a coupe of days. Long enough to be hidden and some kind of union ritual performed. No effect on you unless it got in through broken skin. A bit of extra pain, and would take longer to heal, but you’d’ve, er, lived, or whatever.”
“Don’t judge a book eh?” Spike muttered to himself. He finished off his beer, glad that he had caught the Hokard sooner rather than later.
Xander dropped back onto his stool and grabbed up his coke. “Got room for the rest of this now.”
Spike determinedly did not look at his neck this time, no point putting temptation in his own way.
The pub bell rang out again and at Tom shouted, “Time gentlemen, please.” The pub began to empty.
Tom reached over and shook Xander’s hand. “Good to meet you, drop by anytime. And bring this lump with you, Spike here comes in handy sometimes. He’s my door-bitch.”
“Every bloody time Tom.” Spike sighed resignedly. “I am not your door bitch.”
“Yeah I know, I just get a kick out of callin’ a master a bitch,” he grinned.
Spike shook his head. “My best to Rose, we’re off.” He waved a hand at Tom and led Xander out the door.
“So Bleachie, I’m starving, how’s pizza then patrol sound?” He asked, not wanting to go home just yet.
Xander gave a heavy sigh. “The sacrifices I make. Okay, no garlic.”
“Right, food and fights it is.”
Turning away from the bar, they began the two-block walk along the quiet street to the pizza place. They walked in silence for while, each stealing sideways glances at the other, elbows occasionally brushing.
Xander stopped walking. “Spike, I know I said it earlier, but thanks. This was good. I needed some time like this to unwind. That stuff that happened back at the Magic Box? I know I’ll have to deal later, but, well, this has taken the edge off. I’m actually feeling pretty good, so, um, thanks.”
Spike turned to look at him, “S’not a date Harris, you don’t have to thank me. Besides, I told you, you’re a bloke I thought I’d enjoy having a beer with. No surprise, turns out I was right.”
Xander stepped in. “You know that rule?” Spike nodded. “You could put another crack in it if you want.”
“Could I now?”
“Just a crack.”
Spike closed the gap between them. He reached a hand up behind Xander’s neck and pulled him in. A gentle touch of lips, soft and searching. Spike’s demon screamed for more but he reined it in, recalling his promise to himself. Control.
Xander revelled in the sensation of Spike’s kiss. He let his hands rest loosely on Spike’s waist and leaned into his mouth, tasting whiskey, beer, smoke and something tantalising that all blended together and to him was pure Spike.
Spike let his hand slide down to Xander’s chest as he slowly pulled away. “Consider it cracked.” He smiled.
Xander smiled back and they continued on the short walk. His smile faded quickly though, when Spike froze, a low growl rumbling from him, his eyes flashing from blue to gold.
“We’re being followed.” He scented the air then spun around snarling.