In Which Xander's Ponders Bernoulli's Principle
Xander thought that milkshakes might be the tools of Satan. He'd never considered their possible evil uses before, preferring to simply enjoy their sweet, creamy yumminess in innocent ignorance. Now the wicked ways of the milkshake were clear to him. Pike's head bobbed a little as he sucked on his straw, pulling the viscous drink up to his mouth. His cheeks hollowed and his eyes fluttered in appreciation. Xander managed not to groan aloud. Pike released the straw and Xander relaxed, thinking perhaps he could gain some control over his mind and body, but he thought too soon. Pike's tongue snaked out to curl around the end of the straw, drawing off the chocolatey goodness that clung there. Xander's eyes glazed over.
Pike moved on to his french fries, and Xander slowly pulled his mind out of the gutter he would never admit it had just visited. "So," he asked in a carefully casual voice, "Are you staying in Sunnydale for a while, or are you just passing through on your way to fame and adventure?" He ate a french fry of his own, just to show that he wasn't too worried about the answer.
It suddenly occurred to him that maybe he should already know the answer. They'd spent the entire afternoon together, after all. Xander wondered if the fact that they hadn't actually talked much was a bad sign. He wondered if there was a Dear Abby column for partially gay teenage boys, where he could ask questions like that without getting lynched or laughed at.
They had stayed at the park for at least an hour, kissing and playing like kids until the arrival of real kids drove them away. Xander had expected to get back on the bike and drive back to the high school. Instead, Pike had suggested that they go for a walk. It was a novel concept for Xander. He walked to get places, due to his pathetic lack of wheels, or he walked on patrol, since it was easier to play bait if he was on foot. He did not, however, just walk for the heck of it. It was nice. They didn't hold hands, but they walked close enough together that their hands would brush once in a while. He wondered if there was something wrong with him, that those tiny, accidental touches made his heart race. Maybe he had a glandular problem.
They had wandered through the town, mocking the displays in store windows and talking idly about the movies that were playing at the theater. To be entirely honest, Xander had done more of the talking, but Pike had listened with a half-smile that made it seem like he actually cared about Xander's opinion of Quentin Tarantino. Xander knew about the half-smile, because he kept sneaking glances at Pike out of the corner of his eye. He worried that maybe the glances and his reaction to the little touches were signs that he was taking all this too seriously. Maybe Pike kissed all the guys he hung out with. Maybe Xander was an obsessive freak. Then he caught Pike glancing back.
The two boys had been gazing lustfully at the stereo system in the electronics store window, and the glass reflected them back dimly. And Xander saw it. Pike's eyes slid over to peek at Xander. He thought Xander was more interesting than a huge stereo. Xander flushed, certain that was the best compliment he'd ever gotten. He'd turned and faced Pike, catching his gaze before he could turn away. He'd smiled, feeling shyer than he had when they first met. Pike's half-smile had grown, and they stood there for a while, grinning at each other like idiots.
Eventually, the wandering had palled in the face of teenage appetites. They'd chosen a burger place at random and adjourned for a refreshing meal of sugar, salt, and grease. Which was when Xander had been made aware of the evil nature of milkshakes.
Pike scraped a fry through his ketchup and looked up at Xander. "There's a guy I can talk to about a job. I checked before I came to track down Buffy."
"So you might stick around?" Xander asked. His voice slipped away from casual, coming dangerously close to hopeful.
"I could be persuaded," Pike replied with an arched eyebrow. "Hey, if I stay, I might even try to finish school." He shrugged. "Anything could happen."
Xander was torn. He wanted Pike to stay with an intensity that scared him a little, considering how very briefly they'd known each other. On the other hand, it was his civic duty to steer people away from Sunnydale, especially the school part of Sunnydale. He figured that at some point during the vampire staking last night and the conversation with Buffy over lunch, Pike must have become aware of the less than safe nature of the town. Still ... "You know this place sucks, right? Like in the more literal sense than I usually mean it," Xander said.
"You worried about me?" Pike asked. Xander opened his mouth to deny it, but there was a light in Pike's eyes that made him reconsider.
"I'd just hate for you to get ... dead," Xander fumbled out. "I mean, Buffy already has one dead boyfriend in town, so adding a dead ex to that would be stressful, and then I'd have to hear all about how it's affecting her complexion. I just don't need that kind of torture," he babbled out.
"I'll keep that in mind," Pike assured him. "You done?" Xander looked down at the table and realized with surprise that he had managed to finish his meal. Either that, or gremlins had stolen it. When it had come up in the past, Willow had always insisted that the gremlin explanation was unlikely, so he must have eaten it.
"Yeah." He helped to gather up their trash and throw it away, and they stepped out into the twilight. Their trip back to the park where they had left Pike's motorcycle was much quicker and more direct than their meandering walk earlier. Both boys scanned the growing darkness for danger as they walked. As it turned out, that wasn't enough.
They were about a block away from the park when a vampire stepped out of a recessed doorway. She was blonde, dressed in the height of Madonna-wear from about twelve years ago. Pike and Xander both had stakes, but neither got them up fast enough. She slammed Xander aside, knocking him to the ground hard. You would think he'd be used to getting bashed around by females, but it still always came as a shock. Xander didn't lose consciousness, but his eyes grayed over for a moment, and he was stunned. When he could move, he hauled himself desperately to his feet, scrabbling for the stake he knew he had.
When he rose, he saw Pike pinned to the wall by the vampire. Her fangs were buried in his throat, but she couldn't have drained him much; he was still struggling against her. Xander stared for a second, then leapt for her. He wasn't usually the heroic type. Most of the time, his heroism consisted of gallantly eating the last of the double fudge mocha ice cream so Buffy didn't blow her diet. He almost didn't believe it when he staked the vamp and she actually dusted. Without her strength holding him up, Pike slumped to the ground.
Xander felt like he was trapped in a vacuum left by the absence of the vampire. He felt hollowed out, like all the air hade been pulled from his lungs, every thought and every emotion sucked out of his mind. All he could do was stare at Pike, slouched on the sidewalk. Pike groaned. Xander breathed.
Staring at Pike, rejoicing in his aliveness, Xander thought Buffy could probably dance by stark naked, and he wouldn't even look. More than once or twice. Okay, fine; he would ogle the jiggly girl parts, but once she'd danced her naked little hiney away, he would go right back to looking at Pike. Who had vamp dust in his hair and blood on his neck and a slightly hysterical smile on his lips as he looked up at Xander.
In Xander's fantasies, at a moment like this, the person he'd valiantly saved would say, "My hero," in an admiring voice. Pike apparently hadn't read the script for that fantasy, because he said, "Not bad, but you still owe me one vamp before we're even." But he let Xander pull him up off the ground, and he didn't object when Xander wrapped a supporting arm around his shoulders.
They made it the rest of the way to the motorcycle without incident. Xander was worried that Pike had lost too much blood to steer it, but he seemed steady. He even passed the impromptu 'Do you have enough blood to drive?' test Xander devised, based heavily on sobriety checks he'd seen his parents subjected to. As they rode back through the town, Xander didn't even pretend not to be snuggling against Pike's back. He figured any guy who didn't get scared off when the forces of darkness attacked on their first date wouldn't mind a little cuddling.
Last night Xander had stood uncomfortably when Pike had dropped him off, disturbed by the thought of a goodnight kiss. Tonight he wasn't going inside without one. He cupped Pike's jaw and kissed his lips, which should have tasted like fear and dust but tasted like chocolate milkshake instead. As Pike kissed him back, he thought that maybe shakes weren't evil. Then Pike sucked on the tip of Xander's tongue, and he realized it was never the shakes that were evil; it was Pike's wicked mouth. He wondered if that meant he was being corrupted. He decided he could live with that.
Note: Bernoulli's Principle addresses the ways fluid and gases react to changes in pressure; basically, it's all about sucking.