Pairing: Jesse & Xander
Disclaimer: Don't own em'. Joss Whedon and some other lucky people do.
Warnings: Underage kissing, pre-slash/friendship, some strong language, angst, fluff. Spoilers for season one and possible spoilers for elements of all later seasons.
AN: I set out to write a Spander fic that involved hacking apart demons and Angel, Investigations. Instead, this happened. Hope you like. Written for spring_with_xan. Feedback is love.
Summary: Xander's first kiss.
It happened at the park. That park next to Sunnydale Middle School, with the swings and the really old merry-go-round (seriously, that thing had to be a health hazard) and the slide that was way too small and squat to be fun for any kid who was over the age of five.
Xander was thirteen and a half. Jesse was fourteen. They were both sitting on a swing, coltish legs dragging in the dirt, hands gripping twisted metal chains.
"Twenty bucks says I jump farther than you do," said Jesse. And he pushed off of the dirt and into the air with his legs, started pumping his limbs to get the swing going high and fast.
"You don't have twenty bucks," said Xander, starting up his own swing. "And I don't have twenty bucks. So, um, both of us? Are big with the not having twenty bucks thing."
"Fine." Jesse was already breathing hard - his eyes were gleaming. With excitement, maybe. "Fine. That new Captain Kill comic book, the one I got yesterday. You jump farther than I do? It's yours."
Panting with exertion, Xander shot a look at his friend. He'd gone with Jesse the day before, after school, to buy the Captain Kill comic book at the little shop next to that strange occult goods store. He hadn't been able to buy one for himself - was pretty much never able to buy anything for himself, because of his parents. Because of how they were.
"You're on," he shouted. And then they were frantic, pumping themselves and their swings high into the air.
Suddenly, Jesse let out a loud whoop, and let go. Xander watched him fly through the air. And for a second he held his breath, was afraid for his best friend (he could land wrong, he could maybe die). But then Jesse landed - knobby knees bent awkwardly and sneakers dug deep in the sand. "Beat that, bitch," he said. Laughed.
Xander tensed, took a deep breath...released his hold on the swing's chains and flew. There was a rushing sound in his ears, his heart jumped into his throat, and then he landed. A shock of pain shot up the flat of his foot, shot all the way up to his knee. He gasped. Fell. "Ow," he groaned.
And then Jesse was kneeling next to him, hovering over him. "Are you okay?" he asked. "What's wrong? Should I get someone?"
Xander blinked. "I'm fine." He tried to sit up, was pushed back down. "I just landed wrong. I'm okay." He breathed; watched Jesse watching him. "Did I win?"
Jesse laughed; a sharp, surprised bark. Then he grabbed Xander's shoulders, pulled him up and forward into a crushing hug. "You're such an idiot, Xan." He sounded upset. Really upset. Like he was on the verge of crying.
Xander, feeling as if he was missing something important, hugged his friend back. "Are you...." he started, trailed off. "I said I'm cool, man. I just-"
Jesse leaned in and their lips brushed. Awkward and not quite on target (mostly on the left side of Xander's mouth) and a little wet. "You're an idiot," Jesse said again. He tightened his hold. Let go and stood up.
Xander stared up at him. A moment beat by. "So," he said into the silence. "Did I jump farther than you?"
Jesse's mouth turned upward in a grin. "Yeah. Yeah, you did."
"Ha!" Xander pushed himself up, stood and brushed dirt from his jeans. Jesse was already turning away, picking up his backpack and heading for the gate that was the exit to the playground. "I knew it. I'm awesome. I'm awesome, and you're not as awesome. So of course I won. That comic book is mine."
Xander picked up his own bag, worked the straps onto his shoulders. Abruptly, something important occurred to him - he rushed to catch up with his friend. "Hey. You know, you said I'd get Captain Kill if I won. But we never agreed on what I'd give you if you won. Which you didn't. Because I rule."
Jesse shrugged. "It doesn't really matter. You beat me, right? I lose, you get the comic."
Xander nodded. Thought about the way his best friend frowned whenever he didn't have money for something, and the way he always begged his parents to let Xander stay at his house, and the way he'd glared so fiercely at Xander's father the few times he'd seen the man...
"I guess we better hurry," said Xander, bumping shoulders with his slightly taller friend. "Willow's expecting us. She wants to look over our English reports before we have to turn them in tomorrow."
Jesse snorted. "Yeah. Because I'm totally finished with my report. Not."
Xander laughed, and they both reached the gate - ambled away from the playground thinking about homework, and Willow, and that X-men episode.
Xander didn't dwell on the kiss, didn't think about it much at all.
Wouldn't think about it until years later, when he was grown and Jesse was dead and Sunnydale was a hole in the ground and vampires and Slayers and witches were normal.
Jesse's breath had smelled of cinnamon gum. So why then, he wondered all of those years later, did his mouth now taste of ash when he remembered his friend? When he thought about his first kiss?
Why, Xander wondered. And wished it wasn't so.