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
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
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
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
“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
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
“Shut up Spike. Oh, and
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
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
He and Spike grinned at each other
and the absurdity of the conversation. “So do we have a 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?”
“What’s rule number
“Huh? How do you know about
“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.”
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
Spike shrugged. “Yeah, maybe.”
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.
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
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
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
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.
“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.