(The characters re not mine, they're Joss'. I'm just playing with them.
(Betaed by iadorespike)
(A/N - this is very "different" but if you are a Spander fan, I think you will enjoy it)
The large stone chamber of the Salustrian Senate echoed with “ayes” and “nays” as motions were made and voted upon. The youngest member of the Senate started to collect his papers. There would be another meeting late in the night on issues that were important to him. Xander had already started to jot down his thoughts about the speech he would make.
When the meeting was adjourned, he made sure to approach some of the senior members of the Senate. One day soon, very soon, he was going to be one of them. No one his age had ever been made a senior senator, but a fire burned in his belly and drove him toward success. And so he played the game just right, exchanging pleasantries and favors, information and ideas.
By the time he walked out of the double doors leading into the Great Hall, he knew that several of the other senators would support him tonight. “My Lord Senator,” the guard saluted as Xander passed him.
Thought the city proper was topside, the governmental center was traditionally within the safety of the ground. Years of war had necessitated an underground city, but for three hundred years, the people of Salustra had not had to resort to retreating below. It wasn’t that there were fewer wars, it was that they’d been able to keep the battles away from their planet.
At the sound of steady footfalls, he looked up to see a group of Kerali warriors strolling toward him. The winged men from the outer-rim planet of Kera were the reason Salustra was able to thrive. It was time to renegotiate the treaties and contracts with the Kerali, and that was what the evening’s meetings would be about.
He stepped aside, mildly aware of their grace and beauty... did they not use those gifts as one of their weapons when in battle? About to go about his business, a silver blond flash caught his eye. When another warrior moved aside, the blond came into full view.
The man was all sharp edges... chiseled perfection. Clad in black clothing that clung like a second skin, Xander could see the warrior’s muscles rippling under his mesh shirt and could very well imagine the power of his thighs and legs. Xander sucked in his breath as he took a second look at those hollowed cheeks, only to find piercing blue eyes that mocked, as if he knew exactly what was going through Xander’s mind.
And then the warrior moved on, and all Xander could see was his black wings, shifting with his shoulders as he moved.
Sagging against the cool wall, he imagined the warrior pressing up against him... cupping his face and kissing him the way a man like that would kiss. Fuck He’d seen a lot of warriors, a lot of Kerali or Kerali-trained Salustrali... but never had he had a reaction quite like this. It was madness... Biting his lip, he pushed off from the wall and headed outside. Perhaps he would attend the festivities at the Great Hall after all.
* * *
The Great Hall was buzzing with activity. It was the largest stone carved chamber on the planet with beautiful flying arches around its edges and stained glass windows with false lighting coming from behind them. In the days when war kept people underground, this had been the market place. Now, people from all corners of the universe came to see the beautiful architecture, the worn cobbled floors, and to enjoy all that it had to offer.
Approximately half of the chamber was used for meals and evening entertainment. Long tables with benches formed a “U” around an area where minstrels sang, dancers danced, and poets brought words to life.
Intricate wrought iron panels decorated and separated the eatery from the bazaar area with its stalls and merchants and artistic wares. Metal chandeliers, both hanging from the high ceilings and standing on decorative posts, were placed in strategic locations. The flames at the ends of waxy tapers gave off far more light than if it had been real candles that were used.
Dressed in black and burgundy tunic and pants, the traditional colors of higher-ranking Salustrali, Xander walked past the bazaar and started to look at the already filled tables. Surely the Kerali would be here, most visitors liked to spend time here, especially when they came in groups.
“My Lord Senator,” the host gave a low bow. “Will you be dining alone or...”
“Alone, yes.” His gaze darted around the rows of tables, desperately hoping to find the blond. Wings... he saw several of them at a table and started to walk toward it.
“I have an excellent seat over there, next to Telamin,” the host whispered.
Xander shrugged him off and kept walking. Ordinarily he would have jumped at the chance to sit next to the grand treasurer.
There he was. Gods, that man was beautiful. Of course, he was surrounded by his fellow Kerali. “I’ll sit there.” Xander pointed to a seat from where he’d have an excellent view of the Kerali.
“Are you sure?” The host was aghast. “This table is...” Well, he didn’t have to say riffraff. The plain clothes of those who were seated showed they held absolutely no rank. “You seem distracted, are you… ”
“This is fine. I’d like some wine.”
Bowing, the host left.
Xander sat down and slowly fell under the stranger’s spell again. He’d thought it was a fluke before, but now he knew better. Every fiber of his being wanted that man... that man who at one moment appeared to look severe, and then next would laugh and infect his entire table. He could hear the timbre of his voice, sexy and low, but he couldn’t hear his words.
Taking a long drink of his cool wine, he wondered how he might get closer. Feckitall, if he’d gotten here a bit earlier, he might have been able to sit at the table next to him and strike up a conversation.
A few times their gazes met. Each time, Xander saw that mocking look flash over the man’s face. Fuck... he knew. He wished he could just get up and walk away, but he couldn’t force himself. I’m such a fool.
The lights grew dimmer as a group of dancers took the floor. First it was a row of men and women dancing, then the men stood to the side as the women showed off their moves, and then the drumbeats started and the men took over. They moved like well oiled machines… touching the ground, springing up, putting their arms around each other in a straight line and making complicated kicks.
The blond started to pound his palm on the table. Each time, it sent sensations crashing through Xander, made him imagine fucking the man to that ever-faster beat. His sex grew tight and uncomfortable against his pants, and his throat constricted. Gods... he really wanted him... under him... over him... it didn’t matter how. When he saw the warrior pointing at a longhaired dancer, a stab of jealousy made his stomach clench.
He was glad when the dancers moved off the floor. “I’d like to send your best pitcher of red wine to that man there.”
The waiter pointed, “The man in green?”
“No... the Kerali, the fair one... there.”
“And what should I tell him?”
“Give him my compliments.”
A few moments later the waiter set a pitcher down next to the blond and bent down to whisper near his ear. Xander wished they could trade places... that it was his hand on the warrior’s shoulder, his mouth near his ear.
Piercing blue eyes turned unerringly toward him, capturing his gaze. Xander thought his heart would explode in his chest. The stranger’s mouth quirked into a smile as he raised his goblet. The man’s throat convulsed as he drank, and all Xander could do was watch... and want... and be caught wanting. A flash of mirth entered the blue eyes for an instant before another warrior tapped his shoulder and engaged him in conversation.
A thousand times, Xander replayed the scene—what had he seen in the stranger’s eyes? He couldn’t claim to have seen an invitation... no secret ‘come fuck me’ look had passed between them. Just acceptance. He knew how good he looked, and how hot he’d gotten Xander. That was it. Then again, he hadn’t said ‘no’. Feckitall... an answer would have been good.
Xander ate the courses that were placed before him, barely tasting a thing. His attention was so transfixed on the warrior it was unnatural. He was worldly, experienced, and often slaked his lust with an old friend or a stranger. But this was different, he couldn’t even summon the will to go find release elsewhere... he wanted to be with the blond.
A soft chime reverberated throughout the chamber. It was the first call to the late night session of the Senate meeting. Xander gripped the edge of the table. He really ought to go.
One of the Kerali warriors, seated slightly away from the blond, leaned across another Kerali to talk to the blond. A rapid discussion ensued just as the drums began to beat for the sword dance. The warrior looked directly at Xander as he rose and nodded toward the dance area.
Was that... did he mean... Xander’s mouth went dry. He heard the second chime and started to prepare to leave for the meeting when the warrior took off his shirt and dropped it onto his seat. One glimpse of alabaster skin stretched taut over defined muscles, and Xander was lost. Ignoring both the chime, and the host’s attempts to remind him of the meeting, he followed the blond’s steps to the dance area.
Six men stood ready to try to outdo each other, while another twelve volunteers squatted on the ground with blunted swords. Two volunteers flanked each dancer—their swords would be crisscrossed and moved to the beat of the drums about a foot off the ground, while the dancers avoided the swords and only leaped into the gaps that appeared. It was either that or be injured or tripped and then disqualified.
The blond’s position was at a point directly in front of him. As the man turned, his raven wings unfurled, and Xander saw glittering jewels had been attached here and there. As if he needed adornment to capture any more attention!
The dance was called, and Xander put his hands behind his back. The minute the swords moved, so did he. Concentration was key to this dance. It was a good thing that he was well practiced and enjoyed it as a form of exercise else he would have toppled, as did another among them.
“Ha! Ha! Ha!” the diners shouted, slamming their fists on the table in rhythm with the drums, encouraging the dancers.
The blond danced as if in a dream. He made it look so easy, jumping up, then side to side, turning, hopping on one leg, then the other. The music changed, and his arms spread out, this way and that. His skin started to gleam with a light sheen of sweat.
Gods almighty... Xander wanted to push him down on the floor, right there and then... wanted to take him hard and fast, wanted to find release for the pressure that had been building from the moment he’d seen this warrior. But that mocking smile, and the knowing eyes... Xander turned, and danced all the harder.
As two more people were disqualified, the music grew louder... bolder... as did the dancers. Their moves were wider now they had more space. And then only two remained... him... and the blonde.
They stood directly across from each other, gazes locked, as they avoided the swords. Xander’s pulse was out of control, and it wasn’t only due to the physical exertion.
“Ha! Ha! Ha! Go!” The Kerali’s companions grew boisterously louder, urging their own to win.
It was close to the end of the last set, it could easily be a draw. Suddenly, a soft darkness wrapped around him. It took him a minute to realize that the warrior’s wings had come forward and were surrounding both of them, barring them from the view of the others and, at the same time, preventing both of them from occasionally casting their gaze down to watch the progress of the swords.
Blinded to the outside world, soft feathers brushing his back and thighs, his body occasionally touching the blond’s, and their gazes definitely colliding, Xander felt more alive than he’d ever been before. The danger of getting struck by the swords only sharpened his awareness. Something arced between them... something intense and painful and sweet. Desire... lust... he couldn’t put a name to it. He would give anything to take this stranger to his bed. Anything.
“One, two, three! Ha!” The drums stopped and the room went absolutely silent.
The warrior leaned forward and brushed his closed mouth across Xander’s so lightly Xander thought he’d imagined it. The wings dropped away, and people started clapping.
The blond started to walk away.
Raised eyebrow, mocking eyes. “Yes?”
“Your name, what’s... what’s your name?”
“Spike. You don’t want to know why... or maybe you do.”
Xander wanted to scream when Spike moved and his warrior friends surrounded him, clapping him on his shoulders and laughing. Fuck... how could he do that? How could he just walk away, when...
He let out a breath as the entire Kerali group left the dining hall. Maybe tomorrow? Now he just wanted to get nice and drunk or even the coldest baths were not going to cool him off.