Instead, I've chosen a drabble set that received wonderful feedback, much of it in the 'I want to see more of this!' category: 'A European Vacation'. (Drabbles from this original series are marked by an '*'.)
Title: A World Tour
Pairing: S/X always
Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. No harm, no foul, no money made.
Xander had been guilted into ferrying a book and a fractious vampire out to Angel in LA. He'd dumped them both as soon as it was possible and snuck out to a club. He didn't know that Spike had watched, had seen him leave, had followed. Not until he'd paid his entry fee and walked inside. Even then the vampire had hung back until he'd seen the lack of stunned surprise on Xander's face as he'd edged between single-gender couples to the bar.
Only then had Spike approached and made a heavy-handed pass. Xander's timid nod had surprised them both.
Six months later, once the Scoobies had recovered from their "we're together" talk, they finally got away from Sunnydale. Xander had insisted that their first real holiday be in the place where he had learned about himself. They went to Oxnard.
To say that Spike was stunned would be an understatement once he'd realised what Xander meant. He'd sat before the stage and watched, mouth open, blue eyes glazed, as Xander slithered, strutted, stroked and stretched to pulsing, pounding, music.
That first night was the only night they spent outside their room. They survived on delivered pizza and wild sex.
They finally found the mage they had been seeking for so long. They'd spent five years exploring every rumour, strange event and veiled hint. And finally the threads all led to Cleveland, and they'd wondered why they hadn't thought to try the other Hellmouth from the start.
And so they went.
He hadn't been surprised when they'd turned up at his front door, just stepped back and invited them both in. He'd listened as they pleaded; let them talk him into doing what he always meant to do, just for the hell of it.
One month later it was done.
The chip was out, and Xander knew the time had come to make his choice. To age and die and know that Spike would stay until his death and then move on, or accept the offered gift that meant eternity, or close enough.
They'd had the orb for years, just in case. And a printout of the spell that had been laminated to make sure it stayed safe.
They left a note for Willow and for Dawn, and one for Buffy, though that one had turned out really hard to write.
And then they headed out to see the world.
They found Dru hunting tourists in the richer part of town, and she greeted them with claps and squeals of joy.
"My Kitten! Give your Grandmama a hug and then we'll talk. I've many tricks to teach you so that pesky spark won't stop you having fun."
So Xander learnt the secrets of the Vampire House Aurelius. He learned to charm, with looks and words, to obfuscate and lure. He learned the words that let him talk a stranger into tilting back their head so he could feed, and then they left. There was a whole world waiting, after all.
They ate baguettes on the steps of the Louvre and watched the tourists pass, oblivious to the killers in their midst.
They ate their real meal in the shadow of the Sacré-Coeur basilica, perched atop Montmartre looking down onto the city. It wasn't that the orb spell hadn't worked, but Xander learned some tricks from Grandma Dru. It was easy to convince some folks they wanted to be bitten. A little intense eye contact and a muttered word or two and they would follow, just as easy as can be.
As long as no one died the soul was fine.
The feeding here was easy. They even found a vampire-lovers club just crammed with volunteers, and wandered through the rooms selecting entrées and desserts. Then they paid a visit to an old friend in the city.
Giles wasn't exactly pleased to see them, though he'd heard what they had done. He questioned Xander closely on the tricks he'd learned from Dru, and made him swear repeatedly that no one would ever die upon his fangs. When he asked how Spike had lost the chip they both refused to breathe a word.
That was how he knew that it was Ethan.
They’d come so Spike could taunt his Grandsire with the fact that he’d never made it back, like he’d always sworn he would, one day. They came just for the torment value, or so Spike vigorously proclaimed, repeatedly. Which didn’t quite explain why they spent an evening cutting grass and pulling weeds and scouring lichen off the stones. It didn’t quite explain why Spike insisted Xander bring their digital camera along. Or why Spike spent so long selecting flowers for the graves.
The email that was sent, photos attached, was short and worded carefully so it didn’t say ‘I care’.
"It's not blue, Spike. It's supposed to be blue."
"'T's just a piece of music, Pet."
"I know, but it should be blue. Why isn't it blue?"
Spike leaned over the bridge and looked down at the murky brown Danube.
"From the smell I'd say it's chemical run-off from the factories further up-stream. There's tannins, hydrocarbons, lots of dyes and a bit of blood. If we go out tonight we're eating steak, okay? No fish. We're not eating anything that can survive in all that muck."
A heavy sigh. "It should be blue, Spike. Like on my Granny's music box."
The skyline of the Old Town Square was a riot of bright red tiles and pointy towers. A gothic-looking church rose up majestically above the smaller buildings, loaning its shade to the vampires down below.
One stood lost in memories, the other held him close and waited, patiently for once, till he made his peace.
"She wanted to come back, y'know? She thought that what she'd lost would be here waiting. Gods, she made a fuss when I said no. I swore I'd never come to Prague again and she just laughed. My Princess always knew more than she told."
"Spike, you can't be serious! This place is even smaller than SunnyD!"
"I know, Pet, but it's a Principality innit, so there's a prince. An entire family of 'em, so I've heard. I wonder if it's true, that Royal blood tastes kinda different. Want to see if we can find ourselves a taste?"
Xander looked around at all the tourists having fun in the casino and regretfully shook his head.
"Royalty means dungeons. And torture's just no fun when it's not you behind the whip. Now choose a couple of volunteers and let's have ourselves a picnic near the port."
They arrived midway through Carnivale, just in time for the Masquerade Ball in the Piazza san Marco. Xander pointed out it was costumes only, and Spike produced a pair of outfits noblemen could wear. Xander wasn't sure, he didn't have the greatest luck with dressing up, but Spike insisted, and then promised he could top if he was good.
Xander was the best he'd ever been. He half-believed the costume was possessed, but then surely he could have waltzed a better waltz if that were so. They danced the night away, and snacked discreetly in the shadows when they could.
Xander bought the tickets, made the plans and drove the car. He wouldn't tell his mate where they were going but he swore it would be fun.
The awed expression on Spike's face when they finally arrived was worth every single euro the trip had cost. He'd spoken once of seeing a midnight play performed at Epidaurus in the ancient Roman amphitheatre. Xander had remembered, and researched, and added Greece onto his growing list of places to be seen.
It wasn't often Xander could surprise his love with culture and he made a note to do it whenever he might.
At first Xander demurred. Share a bath with sweaty strangers? No thank you. But Spike could be persuasive and he knew from past experience what to say.
"C'mon, Xan, live a little. You've never felt anything like it before, I swear. A good long soak in a bath of too hot water, then a bloody marvellous skin massage with a roul silk cloth. It's the closest thing to heaven on this earth, Pet, barring chocolate for yourself."
And so, of every day they stayed in Istanbul, two hour or three were spent in Turkish baths as Spike taught Xander hedonism.
I may end up adding more to this series as inspiration strikes. ;o)