Word Count: 500
Xander stumbled out of the bedroom, limping a little from the previous night’s exertions. Not that he was complaining, mind: any lingering discomfort was a small price to pay for the pleasure that had produced it.
Spike was in the kitchen, face hidden behind the morning paper, arm lifting and lowering in a familiar mug-to-mouth motion. Xander paused for a moment, waiting for Spike to acknowledge his presence. He wouldn’t, of course. The maneuver was routine by now; some Art of War bullshit intended to prove who, exactly, was the alpha in this thing; to ram home the point that Spike didn’t give a toss, while Xander did. Over time, the performance had become less and less convincing, given that during these stand-offs, Xander could practically feel the guy yearning to speak. But with Spike, everything had to be a challenge, a contest, a hostile dance.
“Morning,” Xander said, and Spike flung the paper to the floor, pages scattering. Victory.
“He rises,” was Spike’s reply. An unspoken at last hovered at the end of the sentence, like a reluctant ghost. Or so Xander liked to believe.
Spike raised the mug again, polishing off the dregs of his breakfast. When he finished, a jaunty little blood mustache was perched atop his lip. Xander found himself trapped between the urge to giggle, and the urge to hurl. Which summed up life with Spike in a nutshell. The guy worshipped at the altar of contradiction.
He’d cling to Xander for days, a persistent, noisy shadow, planting himself in the apartment, tagging along on patrol, lurking obtrusively wherever Xander wandered. Then, without warning, he’d vanish, returning after a wordless, worrisome week, seething over some unnamed indignity, stomping muddy bootprints into the rug and stubbing out cigarettes on the armchair. Some days, Xander came home to eager blowjobs and Thai takeout: others, to rifled drawers, and money gone missing. Spike would spend a night spooning Xander as they dozed, chest to back, cool lips to warm nape, arms and legs entangled; the next, he’d boycott the bedroom, drinking and smoking and blasting music at sleep-precluding volumes. A genial ping-pong match of harmless, teasing banter would turn suddenly vicious, Spike slamming unprovoked insults his way, typically featuring the word loser, and backed up by evidence that cut sharply to the bone.
It was hard to get a handle on how you felt about a guy like that; impossible to know where you stood. Being with Spike was a messy business: frustrating and disappointing, yeah; but exhilarating, too, if Xander was honest with himself. He’d described it to Willow once, as a rollercoaster ride. “A toxic cycle,” she’d corrected, with a disapproving shake of her head.
She was right, of course, but only in part. Willow didn’t see the whole picture.
Like the times when he’d catch Spike gazing at him, with eyes that said, you’re my whole world.
What choice did you have, when your guy looked like that?
None, but to fall in love.