Follow the Crowd

Xander takes Spike's hand, and Spike is kind of...stunned. Xander's not usually one for public displays of affection. Now, Spike? Exact opposite. He'd happily shag in the center of the town square; statue, fountain and all. During the city Christmas parade. Xander usually keeps his hands to himself when they're out. The most Spike can hope for is one large, warm palm resting against the small of his back occasionally. It's an oddly courtly gesture, and it makes Spike feel protected and angry by turns; angry because he doesn't need protecting. Still feels good, though.

But, tonight, they're downtown, just walking. They're discussing the relative merits of coffee versus a late movie versus a quick patrol through Restfield when Xander's hand closes over Spike's and intertwines their fingers. Xander's hands are callused, the skin rough - working man's hands; the hands of a man who makes things, builds things, crafts things. They're large, warm, strong. Spike has seen those same hands rip the head off of a demon and wipe tears from Dawn's cheeks. He's watched them carve a perfect stake or build a picture frame out of a couple of hunks of wood and a handful of nails. He's felt those hands on his body - comforting him after nightmares or teasing him into insensibility. He loves Xander's hands.

"What's up, love?" Spike asks, swinging their linked hands for emphasis.

Xander's fingers tighten on his for a moment, and he turns to give Spike that shy little smile-and-ducked-head gesture. The gesture that makes Spike really hot, and Xander knows it. "Got jealous," Xander says.

Spike pulls them out of the meandering line of foot traffic, finding a spot where they can lean on the wall and talk face-to-face. "Jealous? Of whom?"

"Sexy when you're smart," Xander murmurs.

"Then I'm sexy all the time."

"Not arguing with that," Xander says. He sighs, then, squeezing Spike's fingers tighter. "Look around." He gestures with their linked hands. "It's a nice night, and everybody else was doing it, so I got...jealous."

Spike looks around, and sees that Xander's telling the truth. It's a warm summer evening, and the street seems to be filled with couples holding hands and walking arm in arm and leaning close to whisper and grin and bump hips or shoulders the way that couples do.

"You can hold my hand anytime you want," Spike says. "I like your hands on me any way I can get 'em."

Xander smiles and pushes them back from the wall, steering Spike back into the flow of traffic, pointing them toward the Espresso Pump. As they reach the corner, he takes a quick breath and leans down to brush his lips across Spike's temple.

Spike figures they might just make the fountain by Christmas.

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