“...but his phone’s never off the hook. I've been trying for an hour and the machine won't even pick up and the phone's off the hook!" An increasingly worried Buffy frowned at the phone, then at Willow and Giles, then back to the receiver in her hand.
“Maybe he’s just relaxing Buffy, I mean – he’ll have been at work all day and we did say we didn’t need him to come by tonight. Perhaps he just wanted a little quiet time to – ”
“Giles,” Buffy interrupted, “that’s what answering machines are for and his phone’s off the hook. I don’t like it. I have a Bad Feeling about this.”
Buffy dialed the number again, tutting in frustration when the tone remained unchanged. “I think I’m just gonna head over there to make sure. I mean what if the pain-in-the-ass house guest is up to no good?”
And with a “Boy, I’m so gonna stake his skinny…” she was off out of the apartment like a mini tornado, all whirling arms, twirling coat and wild waving of Mr. Pointy.
Fifty yards from Xander’s folk’s house and –
“Aw crap, I knew it…”
Buffy’s pace quickened as she heard a muted shriek – shrill, terrified and male amid a thumpthumpcrashthump . The sounds of struggle.
Registering without recognition a rapid succession of high metallic thwap~thwap~thwaps, followed by a lower, pained...sob?
/ if that freak’s torturing him /
Buffy steeled herself for brutal confrontation, and avoiding speculation on the condition she might find her friend in, kicked the basement door open. Thundering down the stairs, her eyes swept the room taking in the chaos and signs of a recent skirmish: phone on the floor and cord yanked out of the wall, lamp overturned and beaming like a spotlight across crumpled magazines, ratty old chair on its side, cushions strewn...some red, red stains here and there.../ oh no / “Xande–”
/ Huh? What? /
As she reached the bottom few stairs, Buffy was abruptly brought up short by a sight so incongruous it stopped her cold in her tracks. It appeared that Xander had overpowered Spike in the fight and was now kneeling astride the vampire, with a weapon in his hand. There was no way this could be possible if Spike’s chip had stopped working.
At the sound of her sudden intrusion, both men’s heads whipped around towards her, faces slack with surprise. No expression of relief from Xander, just ‘oh shit’ looks from them both.
Dramatic rescue seemingly uncalled for.
Buffy was puzzled. She could have sworn they’d both been…grinning?
/ pained grimaces? / she wondered a little hopefully.
Xander quickly discovered his voice, attempting to use his trademark humor to break the moment. The moment that was stretching into a distinctly uncomfortable silence.
“Oh, uh, hey Buffy? Is everything ok?” Witty, not so much.
“Is everything ok?” she echoed. “Where…?” A confused and slightly deflated Buffy sought to make out some nefarious element to the scene before her.
Aha! Suddenly focusing on the red that spattered Xander’s T-shirt from groin to throat, and Spike's red-stained hands still twisted tightly in the fabric at Xander’s sides, Buffy felt a comfortable surge of righteousness. She stepped forward triumphantly and, glaring imminent death at Spike, demanded, “What the hell have you done to him asshole?”
Spike just grinned at her, broad and unrepentant.
“No, wait Buffy. Everything’s ok. I’m not hurt. I can explain.” Two faces turned towards Xander, though Buffy kept one wary eye on Spike, and he kept one on the stake.
“He...” began Xander, looking at Spike. No help there, he thought noting the vampire’s studied expression of interest.
“Well – I...” Xander tried again, looking at the metal spatula in his rubber gloved right hand. “Umm...” he concluded.
Spike snickered quietly. Buffy glared.
“Uh, yeah...what he said, that’s
exactly how it happened Slayer. Won’t
happen again.” Spike adopted
‘serious face’. “Honest.”
Maybe it was Spike’s blood; Buffy perked at this idea. Which meant the jerk hadn’t hurt Xander, just got him pissed enough to get a beating. But, she pondered glumly, it might not even be Spike’s blood, could just be the freak’s breakfast. Not really a staking offence. Bummer.
“We’re just…hanging, Buffy. Y’know, Guy Stuff.” Yet another feeble offering from the Scooby usually most quick to quip.
“Doing guy bonding stuff? On the floor? Covered in blood? I heard a scream,” she accused.
Spike glowered and muttered something unintelligible. Xander shifted a little uncomfortably but remained straddling the vampire.
“Yeah, we were just making a snack, and uh, messing around. It might have gotten a bit…” Xander cast an eye about the room, “boisterous.”
“Got that part,” Buffy drawled,
pointedly looking around at the evidence of said
‘boisterousness’. “And the
blood?” She looked back to the pair on the floor,
taking in the dress code more thoroughly.
Lowered the stake just a
fraction. Looked at Spike’s
naked chest and feet. At
Xander’s boxers and T-shirt.
Xander’s rubber gloves.
/ Rubber gloves? /
"Wait," Xander said, "covered in wha-" looked down at his shirt. “Oh…no, s’not blood, it’s rspbry j’ly,” he mumbled into his chest.
“Huh, what’s that now?”
“Raspberry jelly?” It came out sounding like a question. He smiled weakly at her; he looked a little pale. “See, snacks.”
/ Hey! Messing about? All chummy-like? Together? As in, with each other? /
Her eyes narrowed, flicking between them both. “Xander, are you...” / dead now too? / “… insane?” she demanded, Mr. Pointy perking up. Spike understood the question. He gave an aggrieved and heavy sigh from his position of…still comfortably under Xander. “What have you done to Xander you undead asshole?”
“Oh, give over Slayer, you know I can’t even slap the boy let alone bite ’im, my little fashion accessory seen to that. What’s the problem with us having a bit of a laugh, eh? The boy can roll about on the floor with the harmless undead in his own home if ‘e wants, right? Right Harris?” Nudge. “Right?”
Xander shut his eyes and groaned quietly at Spike’s choice of words. At that, and the thought of how Spike can so slap him if his intentions are, uh – other than bloodthirsty. Maybe he’ll get lucky and Buffy’ll stake him first, ask questions later when he’s dead, and he won’t have to think of something plausible.
Buffy grit her teeth, “Xander?”
“Seriously Buff, there is no problem
here. Us, chilling, doing guy stuff. I’ll see you tomorrow
after work if you don’t need me tonight,
To the point. Xander thought of
his disarrayed boxers that Spike was considerately
obscuring with a well-scrunched shirt and sticky hands,
and shifted awkwardly, just a bit.
/ ohpleaseGod, don’t let Buffy ask me to show her out, or she’s gonna get an eyeful of more than the door /
The fight and anger drained away from Buffy, pushed out by her confusion and a creeping insinuation that this was Something Else. A thought which she really didn’t want to entertain. “If you’re sure it’s all cool Xander, then I’m cool. I leave you to your guy stuff.”
Bright smile at her friend, scary quick shift to Slayer mode to glare once more at Spike. “If I hear that you’ve done …anything, you’re a deader man, dust bunny. Later Xander, don’t get up, I’ll see myself out.”
Final glare and duty done she retreated; destination Denial, preferably at breakneck speed before insinuation could become Actual Suspicion.
Xander started to make some sort of nonchalant goodbye wave.
Thought better of it as he realised he was waving with the spatula hand.
Both men watched her back as she disappeared up the stairs out of view.
Spike reached up and tugged at the cuff of the still raised rubber glove.
Xander was staring into the-space-that-used-to-be-Buffy, his lower lip sucked in and held between teeth, brow knit. Deep in thought apparently, or his own personal hell of ‘what if’ and ‘how do I’. Whatever.
He tugged a little harder. “Xanluv?”
“Hmmmmmm,” accompanied the raising of Xander’s eyebrows, his only change in posture or expression. Maybe the whelp was broken. Spike tried again.
“Xan-derrr ! ” he tugged hard and let the rubber snap back against sensitive inner arm. Result.
With a yelp, Xander finally turned towards the question on Spike’s face.
Their eyes met and held for a long, still moment.
“Xan?” Spike’s voice was all smoke and dark velvet.
With a shrug, Xander reached out to snag the overturned jar of jelly beside them, quickly dipping gloved index and forefinger inside. Spike smirked lopsidedly and ground his hips up suggestively.
“...on a lighter note,” Xander smeared
the jelly in a broad arc, from cheek to cheek across his
“…clowns!* ” he yelled, and lunged towards the giggling vampire.
Who shrieked in delight.