Spoilers: Not really.
I had never been into slash.
Sure, the idea of two men together, in theory super hot. But to read it? Little bit of a wiggins there. I wasn't even into Buffy fic till I followed a link from Soccer slash (yeah, soccer slash) to thete1's slash page Teland. It was for Post Grad, and there was this magnificent little quote "Something was right with the world when having sex against a pillar counted as behaving." And for some strange reason at that time, it was that quote that spoke volumes to me. So I cautiously found the story and read it, and that was my first foray into Spike/Xander, and that was 2 or 3 years ago.
Why does Spike/Xander, Xander/Spike, Spander whatever your preference, speak so well to me, why does it speak so well to so many slashers, and even Jane Espenson? Two beautiful, lonely, fabulously funny men suddenly realizing a attraction for each other, well that's a age old tale that has to be told.
Spike appears in the beginning of season two as the new evil villain in town and from the beginning is billed as radical and different from the other vampires. A sort of lost in the punk rock 80s vampire. He kills off the Annointed One, and gains a few minions while he is at it. He presents a new and different view of vampires, sexy and young, and with Drusilla also in love. Previously the only other vampire we had seen who was in love, was Angel, and he has a soul. So we see that Spike is devoted to Drusilla (who appears to have some mystical illness that makes her...ill), and begin to piece together bits and pieces of Spike's character as this episode moves along. Spike is motivated according to Angel, willing to destroy "everything in his way" to get what he wants. Spike is a bit of a outsider, a radical, he doesn't seem to want to play by anyone's rules but his own.
Spike firsts encounters Xander in this episode when he is in the Bronze, dancing (rather goofily) with Buffy (apparently the target of Spike's interest) and Willow. Xander then throws Buffy the stake that will dust Spike's minion. Their second encounter is more intimate and sets the stage for the tension that they seem to generate. Spike has crashed Open House at the high school and Xander has gone to get Angel for backup of sorts. Angel's plan is a little shaky at best and seems to just be a way for Joss to create a bit more tension within the plot.
ANGEL: Want a bite before we kill her?
Xander is suspended between two vicious killers as they both bend to Xander's neck. The scene ends when Spike punches Angel for recognizing the trick that Angel is supposedly playing on him. While the scene is anticlimatic in terms related to the relationship between Spike and Xander, the tension between Spike and Xander is obvious in the scene.
While Spike and Xander continue to edge around each other the whole season, Spike gets his first taste of being able to relate to Xander. Xander is seen as an outsider or a loner in a group of outsiders. While Spike has always been powerful and having no background on him during season two we assume he has always been powerful. However during the middle to last part of season two Spike becomes paralyzed and put in a wheelchair becoming useless and uninteresting in the eyes of Drusilla and the newly de-souled Angel. Now both Xander and Spike are on almost the same level, Xander having no super strength or smarts making him (in his eyes) useless to the Scooby gang.
This is a Spike who now has experience and background to be able to understand and relate to Xander emotionally. When Spike reappears in season 3, sans Drusilla who has dumped him for a Fyral demon. Xander who has been struggling between two women, Willow and Cordelia, and is in the same place as Spike again, emotionally. Both are confused by love, and seem emotionally bruised from it, and both Spike and Xander attempt to use magick to solve their problems. It shows that Spike and Xander are on the same level of thinking, they deal with some of the same emotions at the same time, love, anger, loneliness and they seem to jump to the same conclusions.
During season four when Spike gets his chip put in and moves into Xander's basement, its buddy film at its best. Spike and Xander antagonizing each other to their last breaking point. You can almost see the smirking that goes on inside their characters heads as they are able to push each other’s buttons to the breaking point. No one but Xander and possibly Buffy is able to rile Spike into such an angry state. And for vampires and especially Spike, anger and fighting is almost foreplay.
The core Buffy cast are all supposed to be outcasts of sorts, the geeky Willow, the unconventional Giles etc...But within the outcasts, there are outcasts. Spike/Xander is such a popular pairing because of the fact most slash writer's and reader's feel like outcasts themselves. It's why Spike and Xander have always been two of the most popular (if not the most popular) characters on the show. Slap them together, and you get one of the most popular pairing in slash fan fiction, even Buffy fan fiction in general.
It's this relation to the characters that makes writing the pairing so to use this word again, appealing. These characters are apart of you when you are writing, you can identify with the feelings. Hasn't everyone wanted someone to understand them, to recognize that they were feeling lonely? Everyone wants this and strives for this feeling and so do Spike and Xander. Spike and Xander are two of the only characters that can give a writer and a reader this experience. The experience of having a personal stake in the outcome of a story.
Xander is a great character, I do have a personal bias as I am in love with him, but still, in terms of his presence on the show he's amazing. He's the ordinary guy, the one who sees, he's funny and witty and self deprecating. And while we aren't really supposed to notice this or his physical appeal (Joss Whedon on the commentaries even said "Nicky, way too hunky for this role. But still can bring on the shemp.") We as an audience do notice it. What's special is that we can imagine Spike doing so also, seeing these hidden qualities of Xander's and it holds a mass of appeal for us. A one hundred something year old demon being mesmerized and attracted to a young man with no special qualities? It's a gorgeous fairytale that makes up some of the best stories this fandom has to offer.
On the show, they are two of the darkest, most similar characters. It makes them highly volatile toward each other; they most likely see their own reflections in each other. The joy of being able to write banter, snark, bickering, is fun, it's a challenge for a writer, and a great time for a reader. Spike and Xander have much of the same way of speaking; they like to use their words as fists. For both Spike and Xander it's a necessity, Spike because he can no longer hurt physically (re: Season 4), and Xander because he has no physical means to hurt, nor does he want to. Writing dialogue for these two characters is a blast especially when you get on a role. The almost challenge that they send back and forth to each other is amusing and creative, and gives the writer yet another experience they can't have with any other characters.
Spike/Xander is a pairing that could have easily worked on a show like Buffy. There is plenty of time for them to interact, be alone in each other’s company and get to know one another. While there is a hard case for making it appear that Xander could be gay, it was easily done with Willow. All it takes is finding the character that fits with Xander. Spike is Xander’s best possibility; Spike is the type of person, as we saw with Drusilla that wants to take care of his partner. Spike is able to handle the emotionally unstable Xander as he did with Drusilla in the same way. Both of these characters are constantly searching for love, Xander struggles to break a pattern with Buffy, Cordelia, and Anya, but Xander is attracted to those who are stronger than he is, and that have a unique way with words, just like Spike. Spike is also attracted to the thrill of the chase, the hunt, something that Xander would give him.
We found out early on with the advent of 'Angel' that Joss Whedon was not afraid of Vampire/Human relations. Then farther on to the series with the advent of Willow as gay, that Joss was also not afraid of same sex relationships, nor was he afraid of dark scary relationships like Spike and Buffy. All of these factors can contribute to a likely idea that if Joss had not been afraid to push the networks too far, that there could have been a Spike/Xander relationship.
There is a high level of subtext between Spike and Xander, which first appears in the very moment that they meet. In 'School Hard' Angel practically begs Spike to have his way with Xander, or get a little taste of him. This episode leads to a premise of many early S/X fics. Spike coming back for Xander, Spike staking his claim on Xander as a matter of territorial rights etc...The next major bit of subtext comes through in the episode 'Hush.' There is a fabulous bit of banter and conversation going on between Xander and Spike, where Spike initially goads Xander into responding to his jibes about Anya.
Spike: "Don't see why I have to be tied up."
Xander: "It's just while I'm sleeping."
Spike: " Like I'd bite you anyway."
Xander: "Oh, you would."
Spike: "Not bloody likely."
Xander: "I happen to be very biteable pal. I'm moist and delicious."
Spike: " All right, yeah, fine. You're a nummy treat."
Xander: "And don't you forget it."
Spike (in falsetto): "Xander, don't you care about me."
Xander: "Shut up!"
Spike: "We never talk."
Xander: "Shut up!"
Spike: " Xaaannnder."
Xander: "Shut up!"
Jane Espenson at the most recent WriterCon has stated that this scene has subtext in it, and that she and the writers were very aware of it. Xander meandering about on the bed, practically shoving his ass into Spike's face, who is tied up. This is the episode where viewers are most aware of the relationship between the two core young males of the show. The next major piece of the S/X bible comes in Season 7 in the episode 'Beneath You.' Where a female stranger asks a group of scoobies if anyone 'here hasn't slept together?' Spike and Xander share a significant look at each other, despite there being at least two other possibilities (Buffy and Anya, and Buffy and Xander.)
Spike and Xander have a chemistry and connection that most of the characters on Buffy do not.
They share a physical appeal, two of the core male members of the scooby gang, outsiders in a their own rhelm. There are seemingly endless ways to get these two together, in a huge variety of ways. It makes them one of the most inventive, interesting, and wonderful pairings in Buffy fanfiction.
Guide to S/X: Livejournal
Authors on Livejournal:
othercat (See! I added.)
Red Apple Falls by _dellamore and Take This Waltz
No Power On Earth by circe_tigana
Sidelines by eliade and non Sidelines stand alones
Anything by witling (see memories)
Spanderverse by anniesj
Nicolette Says Jump by lordshiva
Cues and Balls by estephia
Thirst by carolyn_claire
Spike/Xander page at All About Spike
Post Grad and Stories by thete1
A/N: I hope this is ok, its been a incredibly frustrating experience (no offense Spren, I love you) and I'm still not happy with it. But I did my best. ::brave smile::