Green Thumb

"This is the last time I volunteer to water Giles' houseplants for him while he's away." Xander carefully righted the fallen dieffenbachia and gazed in dismay at the potting soil scattered on the carpet. "When did he get all these, anyway?"

Dawn didn't look up from the Boggle game she was playing with Spike. "Technically, you didn't volunteer. Giles asked if you'd help out and Spike volunteered you because he wanted to steal Giles' whiskey."

"Whatever," Xander said, and grabbed a printout of Fyarl mating habits from Giles' coffee table to scoop up the dirt. "I'm just sayin', I'm not going to be that nice again. Not to mention I had to hold Spike's head over the toilet bowl all night after he finished a bottle of Talisker and sang 'Memories' to the crazed killer he left behind in Paraguay."

"Brazil," said Spike, and knocked over the egg-timer from the Boggle game.

"Spike, you cheat!" yelled Dawn.

"Evil, love," he reminded her. "And, er, no! I wasn't cheating. Was an accident, see?"

They both looked up as Xander yelped. He'd been brushing dirt off the deiffenbachia's broad leaves onto the printout, and was now glaring at the blood welling from his left hand. "Fricking paper cut," said Xander, and sucked on his own hand. Spike nearly pounced on him -- didn't the boy know all his spilled blood was for Spike? -- when he was interrupted by Dawn's cry.

"Xander, don't do -- oh, never mind." Dawn giggled at the look on Xander's face. His mouth was pursed up like he was sucking on something sour, and his eyes had widened in panic.

"By tug had god dub! Dawdie, Bike, I'b beed poithud! What's happedig to be?" Spike dashed up in to Xander in worry, but paused when he realised Dawn was holding her stomach and laughing. He crossed his arms and leaned against the doorway.

"Care to let us in on the joke, niblet?"

Dawn's laughs died away to hiccups. "That's dieffenbachia," she said. The boys stared at her blankly. "Dumbcane. Giles told me about it. It has ... rapids? Raphids? Something like that. It makes your tongue go numb."

"Raphides," said Spike. At Xander's raised eyebrow he threw up his hands defensively. "Calcium oxalate. Wotcher want from me? Angelus used to quiz me on obscure ways to torture people. Some of it sticks with you after enough beatings." Dawn turned green and started gathering up the Boggle cubes.

"That'th diguhtig, Bike," Xander said through swollen lips, but he took Spike's hand and smiled at him. "Dow help me cleed up thith crap -- er, thith garbage, thorry, Dawdie." Dawn rolled her eyes. "Dup thith, thed get be sub bore water." Xander knelt back down to hide the last of the spilled dirt under the plant table.

Spike took the paper full of dirt from Xander and dumped it in the trash. Once there, he didn't refill the watering can, but merely slouched by the stairs, leering at Xander's ass. The boy stood up, brushing potting soil from his knees. Some fell on the plant table, and Xander reached to brush it off. Spike was admiring the view when --

"Ow!" Xander stared dumbly at the second wound. A spine from Giles' favorite decorative cactus protuded proudly from the ball of his thumb. Crimson welled around the spine. Spike used vampire speed this time, and was beside the boy holding his wrist before Xander saw him move.

"Now, now, pet," Spike drawled. "You know that you wouldn't have the heart to deny a little sustenance from your old china Spike, would you?"

Xander tried to answer, but he was drowning in Spike's gaze. Eyes of deep azure fading to cerulean, ringed with a hint of silver, and it wasn't only Giles' dumb dumbcane which had stolen Xander's words. "Bzuh?" he said.

"Thought not," said Spike, smugly, as his vampire-cool fingers soothingly drew the spine from Xander's thumb. He was raising that thumb to his mouth, eyes not on the enticing heat of blood but on Xander's own rich brown eyes, when a thought penetrated his brain like a spine in the hand. "Wait a sec." He drew Xander's hand away from his lips and stared at it, perturbed. "What if you still have that stuff on it? The calcium oxalate? Want your blood, love, but not if your hand is poisoned."

At the sound of Dawn's voice they both looked up, startled. "I could lend you my straw, if you're that desperate," she offered. She pulled the blue and yellow striped straw out of her can of Coke and waved it enticingly. "It's bendy!"

The glazed look faded from Xander's eyes as he realized he'd been about to offer himself up to Spike in front of Buffy's 12-year-old sister. "Right, all dud. Tibe to get you hobe, Dawbie!" He grabbed her arm, and in the process, knocked over the half-full watering can he'd handed to Spike. Dawn's renewed laughter pealed over the sound of water spilling onto Giles' carpet, where the spill mixed with spilled dirt to stain the carpet with mud.


Later that night, Dawn had been returned to the Summers home and Spike and Xander were back at Giles' apartment. The mud was cleaned up, the plants safely watered, and the Scotch ... was still in the cupboard. Xander leaned against the sofa cushions, idly trailing his fingers on the naked back that lay over his lap.

"You laughed at me today, Spike," he said sadly. "You made fun of my near fatal illness." He scratched slightly muddy fingernails down the vampire's spine, and Spike arched against him and purred.

"Sorry?" Spike said against the sofa cushions.

"Worse than that," Xander continued as he lightly cupped Spike's balls, "you almost made me had sex in front of Dawn. Do you realise what you deserve for that?" He squeezed a little bit, and Spike yelped happily.

"Smooches?" Spike asked. "I get smooches and puppies and maybe an artery to munch on?"

"Wrong," said Xander, and brought his other hand down with a smack. And as Spike squirmed against the Xander's thighs and the sounds of the slaps grew louder, neither noticed the dieffenbachia about to topple over into the cactus. And, to be honest, neither of them would have much cared if they'd known.