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Rules 2
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Part 2

It was Friday again, and Xander had come home to a message from Giles asking him to drop by. He took a quick shower to remove the coating of sawdust and sweat before heading over to Giles’ apartment. He got there to find Willow and Buffy just heading in the door.

 

“Hey Girls, what’s up?”

 

Buffy and Willow chatted away happily, Willow telling him about this Wicca group she had gone to, when Giles looked up from his desk “Xander?”

 

“Hey G-man, the message said you wanted me to swing by?”

 

“Oh yes, I meant after sunset. I want you to take Spike for a few days.”

 

Xander stared. “What?”

 

Spike sat up from his reclined position on the couch. “What? I’m not staying with him!”

 

Giles spoke slowly and patiently, as if to a five year old. “I’ve a friend that’s coming to town and I’d like us to be alone.”

 

Buffy and Willow looked up at that. “What kind of friend?” “Who’s visiting, Giles?”

 

Spike leered at Giles. “Is it an orgasm type friend Watcher? That why you want to be alone?”

 

Xander gaped as the Watcher actually blushed. “Yes, that’s exactly the most appalling thing you could have said.”

 

Willow and Buffy were working themselves up into a tizzy at the thought of Giles with an orgasm friend so Xander decided to take pity on him and gave into the request. “All right Giles, I’ll take the pet Vamp for the time being.”  He motioned to Spike; “Come on Blondie, sun’s almost down.  Grab your gear.”

 

Spike tossed his used mug unceremoniously into the sink and grabbed his duster and the blood from the fridge. Xander hugged his girls goodbye and headed out the door. Behind him he could hear Spike remark. “Bye Rupes, have fun with the bird.”

 

Giles spluttered and Xander grinned.

 

 

Xander led a silent and chain smoking Spike first to a video store, then to a Chinese take out place.  He stopped outside the door of the restaurant and turned to Spike. “Do you eat? Human food that is.”

 

Spike eyed him curiously before shrugging. “Yeah, sure.”

 

“What do you want?”

 

“Whatever, something spicy maybe.”

 

Xander figured that that was as good as he would get out of the blonde and headed in to get them some food. Bags in hand, Xander and Spike headed through town and towards Xander’s apartment. As they walked up to the building, Spike stopped and sniffed the air.

 

Turning, Xander eyed the suddenly wary Spike.  “What?”

 

“There’re demons round here mate.”

 

“Um, yeah. The whole building except for me, and most of this block are demons.”

 

Spike’s eyebrows disappeared into his hairline. “You know?”

 

“Yeah, of course I know.”

 

“And you’re not worried that the first time Slutty comes to visit your neighbors will all end up slayed?”

 

Xander stepped up close to Spike and lowered his voice. “First, don’t call her that. Second, Buffy doesn’t need to ever visit me here. I may have learned the difference between demons who want to take over the world and those who just want to live their lives, but Buffy hasn’t and until I can convince her that the world holds shades of gray, she doesn’t need to know about my neighbors.”

 

Xander headed up the stairs and Spike strutted after him. “Well, well, well, a member of the Scooby gang consorting with demons. How the mighty have fallen.”

 

“Shut up Spike. Oh, and come in.”

 

Spike followed Xander into the apartment and looked around, taking in the old couch, rickety coffee table, the small T.V. and VCR sitting on a milk crate, and the tiny table and two chairs that made up the sum total of his living room and dining room furniture. “This is down right Spartan, this is.  Didn’t know you were scraping the bottom of the barrel Harris.”

 

Xander set the bags down on the coffee table and tossed his coat onto one of the dining room chairs. “Yeah, well, I was on the road for six months Spike, you don’t exactly accumulate furniture and nick knacks during a road trip.”

 

Spike carefully folded his duster over the other chair and took his blood into the kitchen. “Surely you could scam some stuff from Mummy and Daddy? An all-American, worshiper of Capitalism teenager like yourself must have piles of shite just lying around at home.”

 

Xander tried not to stiffen at the mention of his parents. “I don’t speak to my parents, and I doubt they’d give me anything even if I did.” Xander grabbed a couple of forks out of the kitchen and opened the bags of food. “General Tsao’s or Kung Pao?”

 

Spike accepted the box of food and sat on one end of the couch, alternating forkfuls of food and sips of blood.

 

Xander picked up one of the movies he’d rented, something action packed and violent, and stuck it in the VCR before sitting back on the couch and digging in to his own food. Two movies later, Xander found himself drifting off to sleep where he sat. Yawning loudly he stood up and looked at his new roommate.

 

“I’m afraid your choice of sleeping arrangements are the couch or the couch. Let me get you a blanket and pillow.” Xander retrieved the bedding and handed it to the blonde. “I hardly need to say it, but if you won’t attempt to bite me in my sleep I won’t tie you up. Deal?”

 

Spike rolled his eyes. “As if I’d bite you.”

 

“Oh you would. I have it on good authority that I’m moist and delicious pal.”

 

“All right, fine, you’re a nummy treat.”

 

“And don’t you forget it.”

 

He and Spike grinned at each other and the absurdity of the conversation. “So do we have a deal?”


”Yeah. Deal.”

 

“Good. Sorry about crashing so early, but my job has me up at 5am and I just can’t pull the all-nighters any more. The T.V. is small, but it’s got cable, so knock yourself out. Just let me sleep. Night Spike.”

 

Spike waved him off and turned his attention to a late night talk show, but Xander noticed how he spread out over the couch and tucked the blanket around himself. Glad he could make the Master Vampire feel at least a little more comfortable, Xander headed off to bed.

~~~

 

Xander knew that Spike had to have more questions about why he was so comfortable living with demons, but the issue of waking up unable to speak took precedence over Spike’s curiosity. Dealing with the Gentlemen kept them busy for a few days so it wasn’t until Spike had been living with him for almost a week that the questions Xander was expecting finally came up.

 

They were at the Bronze playing pool. They had settled into a sort of camaraderie living together, and Xander now felt comfortable enough with Spike that when cabin fever struck, he didn’t think twice about inviting the man out to play a couple games and get a few drinks. Spike racked up the balls and stepped back, gesturing for Xander to go ahead and break.

 

“So, Harris, wanna finally tell me how a white hat like yourself ends up consorting with demons, kinky male demons at that?”

 

Xander barely missed fumbling the shot as Spike’s words sank in. “What do you mean?”

 

Spike rolled his eyes. “I heard you the other day on the phone. Could smell the pheromones a mile a way, don’t try to deny it.”

 

Xander flushed at Spike’s words. He had been home from work and just out of the shower when the phone rang. It had been Tom, calling to check up on Xander in the aftermath of the citywide ‘laryngitis’ outbreak that he had heard about on the news. Xander had been sprawled out on his back across his bed, towel still barely on, talking on the phone, one hand tracing idle patterns on his stomach, slowly working towards the substantial erection he was sporting when he had looked up to find Spike standing in the doorway leering at him. He had jumped up and slammed the bedroom door shut so he could finish his conversation in relative privacy, but he had no doubt that Spike could hear everything that was going on. Tom did, after all, know exactly which of Xander’s buttons to push, and Xander wasn’t exactly quiet in bed, or on the phone for that matter.

 

Xander took a swig of his beer and glanced over at Spike. “Well, it all started after graduation, when I decided to take a summer road trip…”

 

Xander had lost three games of pool to Spike, and told his story up till he left L.A. and Tom and Jerry behind, when he turned and saw Willow and Buffy making their way towards the table.

 

“Hey, how are my favorite Super Girls this fine evening?”

 

“Hey Xander, what are you doing here with Spike?”

 

Xander shrugged. “Playing pool, what does it look like?”

 

Buffy wrinkled her nose. “Yeah, but with Spike?”

 

“Buff, Spike works with us now, albeit reluctantly. Plus he lives with me, it’s in my best interests to be civil with the evil undead.”

 

Spike smirked at Buffy and blew a long stream of cigarette smoke her way. “Yeah, Slayer. The boy and I are all friendly like now. He’s full of hidden surprises, Harris is.”

 

Buffy looked like she wanted to argue with Spike but just then Willow tugged on her sleeve and whispered something in her ear. Buffy’s eyes gleamed and she turned her attention to Xander. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We’ve got someone we want you to meet, Xand.”

 

Fixing on his goofiest grin, Xander tried desperately to get out of what he knew was coming. “It’s not a giant bug lady or a mummy, is it Buff? ‘Cuz I’ve done that already thanks.”

 

Willow grinned at him. “No silly. She’s one hundred percent human.” Xander’s eyes followed to where Willow was pointing, taking in the petite brunette college girl pretending to sit casually at a nearby table. “Her name’s Christy and she’s in a couple of classes with us. She’s really nice Xander, you’ll like her.”

 

Sighing, Xander pulled Willow and Buffy over to the table he and Spike had been using and pushed them into chairs. “Girls, I appreciate the set up, I really do, but there’s something I’ve got to tell you.”

 

Two pairs of feminine eyes regarded him curiously. Taking a deep breath and whispering “Rule Number One” to himself, Xander flashed his best ‘please don’t be mad at me’ puppy dog eyes at the girls. “The thing is, I’m kind of doing the gay thing now.”

 

~!~

 

Xander closed his apartment door with a grateful sigh. “Well, that didn’t go quite as horrifically as I thought it would.”

 

Spike smirked at him from his sprawled position on the couch. “Yeah, they only asked you if you were possessed five times, could have been worse.”

 

“Yeah, well, I don’t exactly have the best track record with that sort of thing, so it was a valid question. The first time anyway.”

 

The girls had taken the news pretty much as Xander had thought they would. Disbelief followed by a demand for thorough explanations. Then they had argued with him for an hour about how he must be mistaken, hadn’t he dated girls in high school? Xander had patiently explained that the controlling and scornful Queen C., an insane Slayer who used him and then tried to kill him, and one prom date with an ex-vengeance demon who spent the whole night describing the various tortures she had visited upon men did not exactly a sexual orientation make. The girls had eventually accepted his explanations, scolded him for not telling them sooner, and left the two men to their pool games once again.

 

Xander tossed his jacket aside and stumbled over to sprawl on the couch next to Spike. “At least they know now. I would have told them sooner if they could have let me get a word in edgewise. Really, you’ve heard more about my trip than they have. All they ever want to talk about is college.”  Xander turned his head and glanced at Spike. “Um, Spike? Are…are you okay with the whole me being gay thing? What with living with me and all?”

 

Spike waved the question aside as ridiculous. “No worries mate. Vamps don’t exactly worry about stuff like that. Once you’re turned, you’ll pretty much shag anything that moves.  You should have seen some of the demons Dru took up with. Forget male or female, some of them weren’t even bipedal.”

 

Xander laughed and they sat staring at the T.V. for a while. “Hey, Harris?”

 

“Yeah Spike?”

 

“What’s rule number one mean?”

 

“Huh? How do you know about that?”

 

“Heard you whisper it before coming out to the girls.”

 

Xander turned on the couch so he was facing Spike. “It’s something Tom taught me. He told me that there are certain rules that everyone learns to help them get through life. Some of them are different for different people, but rule number one’s pretty much the same all across the board. He told me what number one was and I had to figure the rest out for myself.”

 

Spike actually looked interested. “So what’s rule number one?”

 

Xander smiled shyly. “Never be ashamed of who you are.”

 

“Huh.”

 

Xander watched in amusement as Spike turned back to the T.V. “Huh? That’s all you have to say?”

 

“Well, yeah. That’s wisdom, that is. Can’t argue with it.”

 

Xander relaxed back into the couch. “Well, Tom’s a pretty smart guy. You can meet him if you want. He and Jerry are coming to visit the week after Christmas.”

 

Spike shrugged. “Yeah, maybe.”

 

Xander smiled.

 

~!~

 

Over the next couple of weeks the two men fell into a comfortable pattern. When Xander got home from work he and Spike would either watch movies, go out to play pool, or go to the occasional Scooby meeting. Xander, in an attempt to relieve the tedium of constant take out food bought a cookbook, laughingly entitled “Cooking for Dummies” and tried to learn to cook. Tried being the operative word, luckily Spike was really brave about the sometimes-scary looking cooking experiments. Xander could tell that Spike was getting more and more depressed as time went on and no solution to the chip in his head appeared, but there was little Xander could do about it, other than ensure that the gang researched behavior modification chips along with the demon of the week. While they weren’t exactly friends, Spike and Xander had a system and it worked for them.

 

Then the earthquake hit.

 

Xander was jolted awake by the quake and he was standing braced in his bedroom doorway before he was even awake enough to process what was going on. The tremors knocked Spike off the couch and he rolled a couple of feet before springing up and joining Xander in the doorway. The quake stopped and several things happened at once. Xander realized he was naked, so did Spike, who immediately started to leer, and a pipe burst in the bathroom.  Swearing, Xander grabbed his last clean pair of sweats, threw them on and ran for his tool belt.

 

Spike had waded into the bathroom and was trying to tighten the pipe by hand but it wasn’t working. Xander finally found the wrench he was looking for and ran into the bathroom to help. Between the two of them the finally managed to get the pipe closed, but by then they were completely soaked and so was everything in the bathroom.

Xander looked around in disgust. “Great. So much for having dry towels.” All their towels were in the bathroom, and now soaked. Also, what had been a huge pile of dirty clothing that they kept putting off washing was now a wet pile of dirty clothing. Xander sighed and ran a hand through his wet hair. “Well crap.”

 

Just then the phone rang and Xander ran to answer it. As he was on the phone, Spike stalked by muttering darkly to himself. Spike dug in his duster pockets, looking for his cigarettes, the drips from his clothing making a large puddle on the carpet.

 

“Spike!”

 

“What?”

 

Xander gestured to the puddle at Spike’s feet. Spike scowled. “Well, I don’t have any other clothes, now do I?”

 

Hanging up the phone, Xander stomped back into his bedroom and grabbed his last pair of jeans and clean tee shirt. “You’ll have to find something of mine to wear while you do laundry. Good luck though, I think everything I own is in that pile in the bathroom.”

 

Spike puffed angrily at his cigarette. “Why do I have to do laundry?”

 

Xander pulled his work boots on and grabbed his tool belt. “Because, that was my boss. The site is fucked because of the quake and everyone has to go in right this second and stay until it’s all fixed. So while I am at work cleaning up the site, you get to clean up this mess.”

 

Spike was obviously working himself up into a huge snit about how Master Vampires didn’t do housework but at that moment Xander didn’t care. He grabbed his wallet and car keys and slammed the door just as Spike opened his mouth. His roommate could deal with the flooded apartment; he was on his way to what promised to be a hellish day at the site.

 

Hours later Xander returned home to an eerily quiet apartment. “Um, Spike? Hello?”

 

Suddenly a deep growl sounded behind him. “Don’t turn around.”

 

“Spike, what is it, what happened?”

 

The growl sounded again. “Don’t look at me.”

 

Xander turned quickly only to collapse in laughter. Spike stood before him, dressed in an old pair of Xander’s baggy khaki shorts and a hideously bright Hawaiian shirt. Spike scowled and shook a tiny black tee shirt in his face. “I shrunk them, bleeding shirt, trousers. I hate this place.”

 

Still laughing, Xander walked back to check the bathroom. The water was all mopped up, but he pile of laundry was still there. He dropped his tool belt and hardhat off and turned to Spike. “I’d ask you to do the rest of the laundry, but considering the results, I think I’ll do it myself. Thanks for cleaning up the water though.”

 

Spike sat on the couch and pouted. “Go out and get me some decent stuff.  And I want more blood.”

 

Xander grabbed the last bottle of JD out of the cabinet and handed it to Spike. “Here. Drink this, you’ll feel better. I’ve got to go check in with Giles, since the last time we had an earthquake the hell mouth opened. As for new clothes, you may be sort of a friend, but I’m broke. You’ll have to buy yourself new stuff. I’ll see if Giles has any more blood though.”

 

A few hours later and Xander and Willow walked in to the apartment to find a very drunk Spike balanced on the edge of a chair. “Goodbye Dru, see you in hell.”  Then Spike fell. 

 

At Willow and Xander’s exclamations of surprise, he jerked to the side and crashed into the coffee table, splintering it. ‘Bloody rot, can’t a person knock?”

 

Willow looked at Spike in shock. “What are you doing?”

 

Xander saw Spike’s eyes flick guiltily to the coffee table. He leaned down and searched through the debris, pulling out a stake that had been taped to one edge. A sick feeling twisted in his stomach. He hadn’t realized that Spike had gotten this depressed. “You were trying to stake yourself?”

 

Spike slumped onto the couch. “Fag off, its no concern of yours.”

 

Xander waved the stake at Spike. “Is too, for one think that’s my shirt you were about to dust. And for another, we’ve shared a lot here. You should have trusted me enough to do it for you.”  The jibe was meant to be a joke, make Spike smile, but all it got him was a glare from Willow.

 

“Xander!”

 

“What? He wants to die, I want to help.”

 

She punched him in the arm. “It’s ookie. We know him, we can’t just let him poof himself.”

 

Spike got up and grabbed the mostly empty bottle of JD. “Oh but you can. You know I’d drain you drier than the Sahara if I had half a chance. And besides, I’m beyond pathetic; stuck in this crap apartment washing skivvies for a blighter I wouldn’t have bothered to bite a few months ago.”

 

Intellectually, Xander knew that Spike was just depressed and drunk but the insult still hurt. “Hey!” To cover it up he started to grab the weapons they’d come to pick up in the first place. Spike was still talking to Willow.

 

“I mean, am I even remotely scary anymore?” He lunged at her, “Tell me the truth.”

 

Willow looked uncomfortable. “Well, the shirt is kind of not very threatening and the short pants…you know, it could also be because I know you can’t bite, which I know is not exactly what you need to hear right now.”

 

Spike threw up his hands in disgust. “Stop. Look, just clear out okay?”

 

Xander hoisted up the bag of weapons. “Fine, but you break anything else while we’re gone and you’ll be sleeping on the roof buster.”

 

Willow grabbed his arm as he headed out the door. “We can’t leave him here like this, we’ll have to take him with us to the museum.”

 

“No you go on. I won’t do anything. I feel better now. Promise.”

 

Sighing, Xander threw his arm around Spike’s shoulder and steered him towards the door. “Think of the happy. If we don’t find what we’re looking for, we face the apocalypse.”

 

“Really? You’re not just saying that?”

 

Smiling, Willow followed them out of the apartment.

 

~!~

 

One frustrating search of the museum and much pissy Spike snark later they were back in high school. Or what was left of it at least. Spike was reduced to sulking now and Xander was glad. As much as he had grown to like Spike over the weeks they had been living together, he had reached his tolerance point for Spike’s insults and jibes. They had gone way past playful sniping to hurtful jibes. Calling him and Willow 10th grade losers was just uncalled for.

 

They followed Buffy down the dark, charred hallway towards the library. Xander tried his hardest to keep from slipping in year old snake mayor bits while still keeping his eye on the grumbling Spike. Buffy pushed through the double doors to the old library and suddenly they were back in Xander’s best subject in high school, demon fighting.  Xander and Willow tag teemed one of the demons while Buffy took the second and the third went after Spike. Out across the library, Xander saw Spike finally getting tired of being beaten on and fight back. His triumphant roar when he found out he could hurt demons would have made Xander smile, if he wasn’t so busy trying to keep himself and Willow death free. For once the demons were more interested in completing their ritual than fighting, and soon it was down to Buffy to finish preventing the apocalypse. Xander found himself dragging an unconscious Spike out of the rubble as he and Willow tried to get out of harm’s way. Buffy finally joined them out in the main hallways, accompanied by a guy Xander immediately assumed had to be Riley, looking very inconspicuous in his commando outfit. Xander distrusted Riley the instant he saw him. The man was too clean cut and his ‘all-American boy’ act grated on Xander’s nerves. Behind him, he felt Spike tense as Riley approached them. Luckily, Riley seemed too preoccupied with convincing them he wasn’t one of the mysterious commandos to pay too much attention to Spike.

 

Buffy and Riley took off and Willow followed Xander and Spike back to Xander’s apartment to have some best friend bonding time. Spike was obviously ecstatic about finding out he could hurt demons and he begged Willow and Xander to go out ‘patrolling’ with him. Finding out he wasn’t as helpless as everyone had assumed gave Spike some of his spark back. So several days later, when Spike announced he was moving out, Xander wasn’t really surprised, but he did feel a pang of loneliness as he stood eyeing the now Vampire free apartment. Telling himself it was actually his radio he was missing; Xander fell back into his pre-roommate routine of work and hanging out at Giles’. Luckily, he’d have plenty to distract himself with soon enough.

 

~~~

Rules of Life Part 3

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Rules of Life Part 1

 

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