Title: Homecoming

Author: Brooke and Lexie

Email: yabbadabbadome13@yahoo.com

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I can't afford to pay attention. Buffy and friends are owned by Joss, Mutant Enemy, 20th Century Fox, The UPN and whoever else has rights to the show. I hope that's all I used but sometimes I get influenced by "Friends" and "Seinfeld" and the like… so that's NBC and some other people.

Summary: Pure fluff with some funny angst. Buffy and Xander come back to LA on vacation about a year post "Chosen" – wackiness ensues.

Distribution: I don't know why anybody would want this, but if somebody does…sure.

Feedback: Just do it like Nike.

A/N: Seasons 1 through 7, then every BXer's AU post series twist.

This is archived at my group: theunattainable (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theunattainable/)

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~*~

Wolfram & Hart Law Firm

~*~

"So…" Spike rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet in front of Angel's desk. The dark haired vampire looked up over the papers he was reading and eyed his nemesis, and now partner in helping the hopeless.

"So?" Angel asked nonchalantly.

Spike huffed and rolled his eyes. "You know bloody well what so!" he snapped and scowled when Angel chuckled at him, but finally set down the folder. "You know what I'm talking about," he repeated more calmly.

Angel arched an eyebrow and raised his feet to the desk as he leant back in his chair. "No, Spike. I don't. What is it that you want?"

"The Slayer, mate," Spike emphasized. He didn't try to contain his obvious prideful smirk when Angel growled under his breath at the phrase. "She's getting here today, right?" The dark haired vampire nodded tightly. "What time then?"

"Why? Itching to try to reap the benefits of 'saving the world'?" Angel commented bitterly under his breath and pushed himself up form his desk in one smooth movement and headed for the door of his office. He made sure to bump past Spike hard on his way out. "I'm thinking that it doesn't concern you. At all," he said as he walked away. "So why don't you run along and find a nice slime demon to bother."

"Thought I did, mate," Spike muttered back out of a force of habit and Angel turned and glared. "Listen," Spike hurried after him down the hallway. "'round what time do you think her flight gets in? The airport is what? Forty-five minutes aw…"

"I don't know Spike," Angel bit out. "Why don't you go wait outside for her."

Spike stopped and looked through an open office door and out a large wall sized window. The sun was shining brightly outside and he shot a glare at Angel's retreating back. "C'mon Angel," he called and jogged after his grand-sire. "You know you're on the edge of your bleedin seat too and you know it." His tone was flat out daring Angel to deny it, and he knew the truth when he paused slightly. "It's been almost a year, mate. A whole soddin year with just phone calls and…"

"Get lost, Spike." Angel tried again to shake off the trailing platinum vampire as he hit the stairs heading down to his teams offices. He had the vague idea that if he could get into a technical talk with Wesley or Gunn that Spike would leave him alone.

"Just admit it," he pressed. "Admit you're goin out of your gourd waiting for her to just step off of that plane…"

"When she gets here," Angel finally turned and faced Spike squarely at the bottom of the stairs. The move was so sudden that the younger vampire was forced to jerk to a halt to avoid colliding with him head on. "You…you just keep your shirt on, okay."

Spike looked affronted, but relished in the fact that he could still get to Angel through Buffy. He loved that they shared her in common and that his sire hated him for that. "Sounds like you're telling me what to do now, mate."

The rest of the office continued to carry on with usual business while they were face to face - Angel was staring the blonde vamp down. "I am," he stated clearly. "Stay away from her."

"And if she doesn't want me to?" Spike gave a crooked smile and folded his arms across his chest, not stepping back the slightest bit. "I'll have you know, Angel, that our dear Buffy was quite fond of touching me." The other vampire growled and grabbed the lapels of his coat so quickly that Spike was actually lifted off the ground momentarily. He shook the momentary shock off and stared into Angel's eyes. "If you want us so far apart why didn't you tell her not to come?"

"Believe me, I did." Angel snarled but then seemed to collect himself and he let Spike go with a slight push that made him stagger back a few steps. "She insisted that she missed…"

"Me?" Spike questioned arrogantly.

"California." Angel corrected dryly. He turned to continue his trip to Gunn's office. "She said that the food in England is still crap and it's always grey. According to Buffy, nothing good has ever come out of that place," he said the last part with a bright smile directed at Spike.

The vampire glared and followed Angel into the office, nodding at Gunn when he looked up to see and roll his eyes at his irritated guests.

"Didn't used to be her tune."

"Well, I know what having to deal with you everyday can do to a person," Angel nodded. "She's probably a little more sane and rational now that she doesn't have to look at you every second of everyday."

"Again," Spike chuckled. "Didn't used to be her tune."

"Buffy comin today?" Gunn sounded completely uninterested as he didn't turn his focus from his computer screen.

"Yes." The two vampires said in unison and then glared at each other.

"Do her a favor," Gunn stood up and grabbed his briefcase from his desk. He strode between the two vampires who turned to follow him with their gazes as he walked through the doorway and into the lobby. "Let her know before the actual pissing contest starts," he tossed over his shoulder in a completely serious tone, "…maybe get her one of those plastic tarps to cover with."

"She's not my territory," Angel denied and turned on his heel to follow Gunn's path and leaving Spike behind. "I just don't want…him," he chucked over his shoulder, able to sense the other vampire behind him, "touching her."

"Understandable," Gunn nodded. "But you haveta admit it, man. This whole 'I was had her first', 'Well I had her last', 'So, I'll have her forever', 'We're soulmates', 'I saved the world', 'Yeah, after me'…" Both Angel and Spike were staring daggers at him, but he shrugged. "…it's kinda been played, you know?"

"Know what?"

The voice sounded and all three men turned to look down to the base of the stairs that they had just ascended. The ones who actually sucked in their breaths did so unnecessarily when they saw the new occupant of the room – they hadn't even heard her enter…or smelt her near by, but there she was. Just like a Slayer, silent in her approach. But just like Buffy in that she was glowing before their eyes.

"Buffy," Angel's voice was just above a whisper as he all but ran back down the stairs. He stopped short when he reached her and felt Spike behind him again.

"Slayer," the blond vampire greeted a little bit nervously, but then corrected himself. "Buffy."

"Blink, guys," Gunn reminded from the top of the stairs with a small chuckle.

Buffy turned away from the intense stares she was being dissected with and smiled at the safest option. "Hi, Gunn."

"The infamous Buffy Summers, welcome back," he greeted with a small grin. "I've got a meeting, but there's a rolled up newspaper in the first office on the left. Don't be afraid to give swift pack on the nose."

Buffy nodded but looked confused for a moment as Gunn disappeared from sight. However, when she turned her attention back to Angel and Spike it all started to make more sense. "Angel," she said finally and much in the same tone that he had called her name in. "Spike," she nodded after. Angel smiled self-satisfactorily after she said his name and Gunn's comment made perfect sense. She was about to comment, but Angel had lightly grabbed her forearm and began guiding her down to some couches.

"It's good to see you again," he spoke in the quite register that she always knew him for. Spike rolled his eyes and jogged to catch up and walk on her other side. "How was your flight?"

"You too, Angel." The ex-Slayer answered sincerely. "You…you look good," she turned over her shoulder to Spike and eyed him up and down briefly, "…both of you." Angel gestured her towards a seat and Buffy smiled cordially and sat down. "The flight…whew…the flight was…interesting, to say the least…"

Angel didn't know why Buffy had just smiled the way she did, but he shrugged it off. "Yeah…it's long. We used to do it by ship…"

"I like your hair," Spike blurted out finally…and louder than necessary, and both Buffy and Angel whipped around to face him. "Brown, huh."

Buffy blushed slightly and ran her fingers through her darker brown locks. "Yeah…change and all. Kept with it."

"Good on you," Spike nodded, but then turned away sharply and muttered to himself.

"Are you alright?" Buffy asked, her eyes conveying a worry reminiscent of their time dealing with the First. "Cuz, and not that I'm not glad that I know for sure that you're not all extra crispy for the good of the world, but I'm on vacation and I really don't want to deal with psycho you again."

"Then I'll take you back to the airport now, then," Angel muttered with his hand over his mouth. He just grined when Buffy turned to look at him with a half smile.

"No," Spike bit out. "I was just saying that I don't see you for the better part of a year and the best I can come up with is 'nice hair'…like a lousy bleedin…"

"Where's your luggage?" Angel cut him off, looking around the lobby. "Did you leave it outside? I can get…"

She smiled again. That weird smile that was almost guilty, but mostly sublimely…happy? Angel's eyes narrowed and he stopped. Both he and Spike looked up when they heard a series of loud crashes at the entrance and saw a figure amble through the rotating doors, weighed down in bags.

A figure who…

"You do know that we're going back, right Buff?"

Xander Harris. Xander Harris' voice behind the bags, and then Xander Harris' figure revealed when they all fell loudly to his feet.

"I know," Buffy stood up and pouted.

Why was she doing that girly… "What's that face for?!" Spike leant over and asked Angel aloud when Buffy's back was turned.

"I just didn't want to forget anything," she stopped short in front of Xander and looked at him through her eyelashes.

The two vampires watched Xander sigh and roll his eyes in response. "They're friends," Angel whispered back and Spike nodded at the two, who were standing closer than he liked.

"If Dawn climbs out of one of these when we get up stairs I'm…"

"You'll what?" Buffy challenged with all the intimidation of the Slayer behind her tone.

"I'll…" Xander bit his lip in consideration. "I'll…I'm not carrying them back, that's for sure!" She laughed at his tight lipped expression and then grabbed his arm. Buffy tugged him over the heaps of bags, ignoring his stumbling, until he was at her side in front of the two vampires. She was still holding onto Xander while all three men glared at each other.

"Well if it isn't the Fangless Fang Gang," Xander said dryly from Buffy's side. "Still doing your soul-having thing?" His smile disappeared when Buffy rocked into his side and he turned to look down at her, "What?! I'm just saying…"

"Be nice Xander," Buffy warned and squeezed his arm. "Angel is letting us stay here." She turned the doe eyes on him and the dark haired vampire sputtered in shock for a moment.

"Us?!" Spike all but shouted.

"Stay here?" Angel asked much more meekly.

Buffy nodded to both and looked completely oblivious.

Angel looked around and nodded slightly, "Right…yeah…yeah. You can uh, stay here…" He tried to smile at Buffy…and Xander. "There're rooms here."

"US?!" Spike asked again.

"I'll just get your bags," Angel stood up and moved behind them to where Xander had dropped all the luggage.

"See," Xander leant over to Buffy's ear when Angel passed. "At least somebody's considerate of us mortals…with mortal muscles and mortal bones…"

"Mortal stamina…" Buffy added slyly under her breath and Xander glared at her. Both turned when they heard another loud crash behind them and saw Angel standing in the middle of the pile of bags.

"…lost my grip," he shrugged and set about gathering the bags again.

"Don't worry about it, Fangface," Xander smiled and finally stepped from Buffy side and further into the lobby. He looked around and wasn't able to suppress the look of awe that spread on his face at the sight of the bustling Wolfram & Hart office. "Looking at this place I'm sure you can handle the bill that I'll send if you broke any of my stuff."

"And it's all ours," Spike stood up and glared at Xander. "Me and Angel, over there…this is our new outfit."

"It's mine first." Angel corrected while meandering towards the stairs holding the luggage. "They gave it to me while you were busy being controlled by the First remember. My reward while you were still killing innocent people?"

"Right, then," Spike accepted. "That's what I said." The older vampire's back was to him so he didn't see him roll his eyes, but he heard his growl of frustration. "But it's ours – Angel's and mine…we're an us, sort of like what the Slayer just said – 'bout she and you…being an us. By the by, mate," he was standing in Xander's face and trying to look calmly menacing, "What did she mean by 'us'?"

"Xand?" Buffy called and interrupted Spikes hurried conversation. Xander quirked an eyebrow at the blonde vampire and turned to Buffy who was standing at the base of the steps Angel had just walked up.

"Hmm?" He started to towards her.

"Can I use your cell phone?" she asked while they walked up the stairs – Xander walking so close behind her that their hands were touching on the banister and his chest was almost pressed into her back. "I promised I would call Dawn when we got here."

"Sure…"

"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DOES 'US' MEAN?!" Spike fumed as he was left in the lobby. More than a few passing lawyers, messengers, and demons stopped and eyed him. "Oh, get back to work," he huffed and stomped to the stairs. "Angel's not paying you for nothing…"

~*~

Angel watched Spike straighten out his shirt for the sixth time in the past fifteen minutes…the forth shirt of the past four hours. He rolled his eyes at his cohort and kicked his feet up onto a low center table while he sat back in his chair.  "Nice blouse," he commented idly and thumbed to a new page in his book.

"Should be. I got it from your closet." Spike arched his eyebrow and plucked open another button at his collar. "Did she say…"

"Too big for you in the shoulders…and chest…and stay out of my room," Angel slammed his book shut and set it down on the arm rest. "And I swear if you ask me one more time when she said they were coming back…"

"Did she say?" Spike pressed and pointedly ignored Angel's avowal.

"No. No, she said they were going to dinner and then coming back."

"That was hours ago," Spike paced over to the glass doors and peered out into the night. "I've seen Harris eat. Takes five minutes tops." When Angel did respond quickly enough he whirled to face him. "You know you want to know what they're doing."

"Not really." Angel sighed and shut his eyes. He let a relaxed grin break out on his features, "If I was so curious I would have gone with them…Buffy did invite me after all." He opened one eye to gage Spike's reaction, but found the other vampire looking doubtful.

"And you chose to stay here?" the blonde smirked. "With me? Right, mate."

"I chose to not ignore my duty in the quest to…"

"Save the world one soul at a time, blah blah soddin blah. You want to know. That's why you're still up and reading…" he reached out and picked up Angel's book before he could react and try to snatch it back. "Bram Stokers Dracula? Bloody hell, mate…"

Angel ignored the taunting and put his feet on the floor. He yanked the book away from him sharply without standing and eyed Spike. "She and Xander went out all the time in high school. I'm not worried about…"

"Did you see him try to kiss her earlier?" Spike spoke up frantically. "Did he do that in high school?"

Angel thought back and remembered the scene he had so tactfully walked in on in Buffy's room. Xander and Buffy were standing awfully close and he had never seen them hug, especially not like that…all googliy eyed, but still…

He looked thoughtful for a moment, but then nodded, "Occasionally." He stood up and wiped his hands down his pants legs. "Look Spike, if you're so curious about what ever may or may not be going on with Buffy then just ask her…"

"And I suppose you mean for me to tell you what I find out?" Spike folded his arms across his chest. "You mean to make me into the bleedin whiny beggin ex roll and I'll have no part in it. That's your department…all swooping in and setting ultimatums…"

"I never swooped in anywhere," Angel denied. "And I never gave an ultimatum…"

Both vampires looked up when they heard the sound of muffled laughter in the rotating doors, and both growled when they saw Buffy stumble giggling into the lobby with Xander's arms wrapped around her waist from behind, matching her steps with a wide waddle while holding her up and laughing loudly.

"The Gruesome Twosome," Xander greeted loosely. "What's the what? Kill anything spooky tonight?" He kept his post behind Buffy and smiled when she stood up straight and leant back into his chest.

"Not yet," Spike growled and eyed him and the Slayer up and down. "But the night's still young. Whadoya say Xander. You and me for old times sake…fighting the forces of evil and what not…"

"Nunuh," Buffy giggled and shook her head where it rested back against Xander's chest. She rested both of her arms over his around her waist, "No slaying on vacation." She craned her head up so that her nose was nuzzling against the underside of his jaw. "That was rule number one of the trip – I told Giles and everything." The dark haired man nodded behind her and flashed the two vampires a reassuring grin. "Unless I got attacked first," Buffy amended and looked at Angel brightly. "Then its open season on kicking demon ass."

"Here here, pet," Spike cheered her on while still managing to glare at Xander – who had not removed his grip from Buffy's waist and she didn't seem to care at all. Bloody friends his ass. "I'd fancy a swift bout of violence if the mood suits you."

Buffy, Xander and Angel turned to look at the blonde vampire, each quirking an eyebrow. "WHAT?!" he countered. "I was agreeing!"

"With what exactly?" Angel questioned with a hint of skeptical curiosity. "She didn't say that she wanted to find a fight. She said that she would fight in self defense. So what exactly was the point of you even speaking?"

"Probably to draw attention to his shiny new velvet blouse," Xander smiled and nodded at the vampires. "Very metrosexual if I do say so myself."

"I thought it was a bold statement," Angel tossed Spike a sideways glance. "But keep in mind this is shirt number four."

"Was shirt number three see-through like yours?" Xander asked him with seemingly genuine interest, and Spike managed a chuckle.

"And it's your bloody shirt, anyway Mr. Armani Exchange," Spike chose to chime in.

"Wow," Buffy gave an exaggerated yawn and pulled herself out of Xander's arms. She caught his hand when she stepped forward and pulled him slightly after her towards the stairs. "This was a thrilling way to wrap up an evening, but I'm going to turn in." She smiled to the two vampires, but then beamed to Xander. "…which means that its time for you to turn in with me."

Spike laughed indigently and folded his arms over his chest. "Whppsshh," he made the sound of a whip cracking under his breath. "Best run along then Harris. Slayer'll put you in timeout if you lip off."

Xander smirked and followed Buffy's path up the stairs. "I think even you'll agree that that's not the worst place to be."

Spike's eyes flashed at the other man's departing comment and the expression he was wearing when he made it. Xander looked almost cocky…confident and somewhat pridefully knowledgeable…and it made Spike want to rip the smirk off his face.

"See you guys tomorrow," Buffy called down to them and the vampires could hear the smile in her voice. They stood still and watched the area that the Slayer had just occupied and listened hard to the sounds of both Buffy and Xander laughing upstairs…then the sound of a door clicking shut. One door – not two.

"What did that mean?" Angel questioned Spike, his arms crossed and his brow furrowed as he pointed after the two twenty-somethings.

"I'll tell you what that meant," Spike bit out at Angel as they watched continued to study the, now empty, stairs. "It means, bloody friends my ass, is what it means."

~*~

Xander flopped down on the bed, stretched his arms back under his head and shut his eyes. "Is it me, or are they acting *way* more creepy than usual?" he asked, his eyes half open and focused lazily on Buffy across the room. "They keep giving us the stink eyes."

"Spike always looks like that," Buffy commented distractedly and pulled a tank top out of her suitcase. She stood up straight and unzipped her dress in the back, letting it slide down to the floor before pulling on the new shirt. "And Angel…he's…"

"Got a flare for fashion?" Xander offered completely straight faced.

"I was going for more of a description of his personality, but now that you mention it…" Buffy watched Xander shrug in his reclined position and approached the bed. She climbed up onto the mattress and crawled forward until she was at Xander's side; then moving slowly she straddled his hips and leant forward so that her head was resting on his chest, fit snuggly under his chin. The ex-Slayer sighed and raised her hands to rest on either of Xander's shoulders when he hummed his approval to their position and wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Sleazy then?" he settled, but yelped when Buffy turned her head slightly and bit into his pec lightly.

"I just want to settle with weird. He's acting weirder…"

"…than normal for a 250 year old vampire…" Xander added again in the same relaxed tone and Buffy nodded against him. "You couldn't have possibly expected you to see both of them again and for it to be all hunky dory. They've hated each other for hundreds of years," he pointed out and held her a little tighter, "and that was before you were even born. Now they're both your exes…what do you want, Buff? To go down to the lobby and start a rousing game of Pictionary and have a pillow fight?"

"No." Buffy denied with an obvious pout in her voice. "I…Angel and Spike…"

"Were never your friends," Xander declared. "I don't expect them to take the roll on now."

"Angel's my friend…" Buffy denied unconvincingly. "He helped."

"He helped save the world, yeah. It's what he does."

"And he helped me."

"Because he loves you, Buffy. If anything he was a partner, but he was never your friend," he insisted. "Every time you two went some where you ended up trying to swallow each other." Buffy sat up and pouted again while she stared at him. "You and I - We were friends."

"So now you and Angel are reversed?" she snuggled back into his chest and shimmed her body closer than it was before, making Xander groan lightly. She giggled at the deep rumble that went through his chest and sighed again when she felt his hands stroking lightly up and down her back through her thin top. Buffy turned her head up and brushed her lips against the side of his throat, "I like you guys reversed."

Xander exhaled a deep breath and reached down to tip Buffy's chin up away from his neck. He leant down and closed his lips over hers for a lingering moment before pulling back. "You better."

She pulled herself more up his body and bent down over Xander's face to stare directly into his eyes. "And I don't care if they don't like you." She kissed him again until Xander pulled back suddenly.

"What do you mean 'you don't care if they don't like me'?"

"That I like you," Buffy ignored his offended tone and held his chin steady to kiss him again. "And that's all that matters." Their mouths dove into each other's again and parted with a moan. Xander pulled Buffy down closer to him and with a devious smirk in place rolled over on the bed, trapping her beneath him.

He pulled away again and studied Buffy's frustrated look when she opened her eyes at the loss. "And you'll protect me from your crazy murderous exes?"

"That depends on what I get in return," she grinned up evilly at him.

"What would you want, Miss Summers?"

"Hmmmm…" Buffy licked her lips and lifted her legs to wrap them around Xander's waist. She locked her ankles together behind his back and yanked him closer. "I've got a few compensation ideas that I could run by you."

Xander's eyes went wide and he stifled a groan when Buffy rocked up against him. "Here?!" he squeaked out. "In Angel's creepy room in this building that may or may not be owned by Satan himself?"

Buffy was already kissing her way all over his throat and Xander was unwittingly craning his neck to expose more of his skin to her exploring lips and tongue. "Did you want to go out to the car or something?" she mumbled her query distractedly.

"I just don't trust this place, Buff." Xander's eyes darted around the lavishly decorated room skeptically. "I feel like there's eyes everywhere."

Buffy let out a deep frustrated breath and did a quick scan of the area. "There aren't," she smiled tightly and tried again to lure Xander into a kiss.

"But what if Angel can see," he murmured around her lips. "And Spike…"

"They can't," she replied absentmindedly, her eyes closed while she went on seemingly uninterrupted by Xander's anxiousness.

"How do you…"

"Xander," Buffy pulled slightly but stayed close enough to keep brushing his lips with light kisses and licks. "Just focus on me."

~*~

"What are you doing?"

Angel jumped when Spike's voice thundered through the hall. "The door…there's a draft, yeah? Drafty." The larger vampire ran his fingers over the door frame.

"You're eavesdropping on Buffy and the wanker, eh?" Spike asked with a smug smile in place and he crossed his arms across his chest. "Why don't you just ask her what's going on with them?" he repeated Angel's earlier comment back smugly.

Angel slit his eyes at the blonde vampire and stood straight to face him. "I want my shirt back," he arched an eyebrow and growled when he saw that Spike was still wearing his clothes.

"Making sure that you're right in your 'friends' theory?" Spike ignored him and meandered towards the door. He stopped just short of Angel and glanced at the entryway, "What are they doing in there?"

Angel sighed and turned back to the door, "Talking…quietly."

Spike narrowed his eyes and pressed his ear up against the door.

"Spike…" Angel warned but the other vampire silenced him with a dismissive wave of his hand.

"Talking my bloody ass," Spike mumbled after a moment.

"You should have that looked at," Angel said and gave into his temptations, pressing his ear to the door next to the blondes.

Spike rolled his eyes. "That's kissing. They're kissing in there you ponce."

"You don't know that…" Angel retorted, but was diverted by a moan sounding noise followed by a giggle from inside. "She's probably stretching…or something…"

"Oh I'll bet she's working him out real good." Spike turned his venom on a ready-to-protest Angel. "And you let them stay here? Bring *that* into *our* place of business?" He pressed his ear back to the door. "It's unprofessional is what it is."

"She asked," Angel fired back and yanked Spike back away from the door by his shoulder. "You wouldn't have said no, Captain Clorox."

Spike reacted quickly and shoved Angel hard in the back, sending him head first into the door with a thump. "Did your forehead break your fall?" he asked innocently before Angel turned on him, grabbing him by the shoulders and shoving him back into the opposite wall with another loud crash.

"Aww, touchy subject?" Spike taunted and shoved his right hand underneath Angel's and between them. He brought the palm of his hand up hard into his grand-sires chin, and when Angel recoiled and loosed his grip on his shoulders Spike grabbed him up in a standing headlock. Angel locked both of his arms around Spike's waist and they stumbled back into the door with mutual grunts…

~*~

"Did you hear that?" Buffy pushed Xander back slightly and asked through slightly labored breaths.

Xander furrowed his eye brows and glanced over his shoulder to the door. "I was kinda hoping that, what ever it was, it would go away." He smiled again and wagged his eye brows as he attempted to move himself back over Buffy.

"Xand…" she turned her head and dodged his questing lips and he groaned and fell off to her side. "I'm serious," Buffy insisted and scrambled over the side of the bed in search of her tank top. "You're the one that said it was weird here."

"Do you want to go to the car or something?" he repeated her earlier question hopefully but Buffy rolled her eyes at him in disbelief.

"What if there's trouble?" She climbed over him in the bed and grabbed a pair of jogging shorts from her suitcase.

"We're in a mystical law firm with all sorts of protective barriers and two personal vampiric bodyguards." Buffy tossed him a look over her shoulder as she cautiously approached the door. "Well, they'll protect you and you're my human shield so…"

"My knight in shining armor." Buffy said sarcastically. "Just get me a weapon."

"Now we're talking!" Xander hopped off the bed and jogged to his suitcase. "I think I brought that whi…"

"FOR FIGHTING!"

Xander pouted and his shoulders dropped, but Buffy was already facing away from him and poised at the door knob. "I got my flow going and all…" he mumbled while searching the room. "Here," he said snatching up the closest thing to him and thrusting it into Buffy's hand from behind.

"Thanks…" the ex-Slayer glanced down at what he had given her. "Fritz Heslin Styling Spritz?" Buffy turned and made a disbelieving face at Xander. "You brought this?" she asked while examining the canister.

"It revitalizes…and helps with my split ends…" Xander crossed his arms across his chest. "Nobody judges you when you're hair does weird frizzies."

"I'm a woman." Buffy succeeded in stifling her laugh and stated seriously. She watched Xander struggle for a response and rolled her eyes and tossed the can back to him. "I need a real weapon. Something bludgeony." Buffy scanned the room quickly, "OH!" she said excitedly and scooped up a medium sized granite statue from the dresser. "Weapon!" She poised herself at the door again, "Ready?"

"Men can use hair product too. There's no vagina rule on the label," Xander insisted.

"Okaaayy…Listen, there's evil outside," Buffy turned and explained. "We'll deal with you feminine side after we kill it."

"And I'm plenty masculine."

"Yes sweetie."

"I'm head of weapons and tactics for the new Council. Head, as in 'in charge of', head."

"Yes sweetie."

"Damn right."

Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head minutely just before yanking open the door.

"AHHHHHHH!!!!"

Buffy turned at the loud scream but then choked on the cloud of hairspray that surrounded her and misted heavily into the hall. "XANDER?!" She was distracted again by the feeling of something large crumbling against her legs and she turned and swung down with the statue, connecting with a solid 'thwack'.

"BLOODY HELL, SLAYER! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!"

"Spike?" Buffy squinted through the foggy mist down at the floor.

"Get off of me!"

"Angel?" Buffy recognized the last grumble immediately and saw the two vampires struggling to climb over each other on the floor to get to their feet as the misty cloud settled. "What are you doing?!" She asked while turning around slightly to try and locate Xander.

Angel got the last shove off of Spike and sent his companion shoulder first into the opposite wall. He stood with a grin and straightened out his shirt while Spike glared at him and rubbed his shoulder. "I was…"

"Spying on you," Spike finished quickly and then sneered when Angel narrowed his eyes.

Buffy's head titled curiously, and Angel sputtered to cover himself after Spike's admission. "There're ghosts…"

"I TOLD YOU!"

All three turned to the darkened doorway of the bathroom and Buffy rolled her eyes when she saw her dark haired friend peek out around the corner. "Did you kill it?" he squeaked.

"It was Spike and Angel," Buffy answered cynically.

"Did you kill it?" he repeated seriously.

Buffy shut her eyes against the wave of frustration at all of the men in the room. "Just get out here, Lionheart."

Xander nodded and stepped back into the room, his chest puffed out and taking wide steps in his patented 'manly pose' while he pretended to survey the room. "So everything's in order then – good."

"Ghosts?" Buffy happily ignored him and asked Angel.

"Hmm?" The older vampire glared at the young mortal who was pacing the room wearing only a pair of baggy pajama pants. "Oh, uh, yeah." Angel nodded finally, "Ghosts. There're all over the place…flying and…"

"Ghosting." The blonde demon maintained his customary glare at Xander.

Angel sent Spike a sharp look, "Haunting."

"Right, haunting."

"Really?" Buffy's eyes went wide and she looked around the room…well as far as she could turn as Xander had chosen to mimic her actions while now, conveniently, plastered to her back.

Spike smirked at the opportunity. "Oh yeah…this room is the worst. Um…but my room is…" He was cut off by Angel's low growl and elbow to the ribs.

"I'm so not sleeping in Spike's room." Xander said as if the proposal was serious.

"Quite. The lobby's got a very soft couch. It's new." Spike suggested, smiling at Xander's narrow eyes.

Buffy shook her head again, "Is this room really haunted?" she asked Angel as he seemed to be the sanest one in the group.

"In the technical sense," her ex looked hopeful, "there's a high probability, yes."

The former Slayer took another deep breath, "Oookay…possessiony Poltergeist haunted, or lets have a whacky adventure Casper haunted."

"I'm going to hold up hope for Casper," Angel looked around the room, relaying some doubt. "I mean, I think if we got into the realm of Exorcist I think the alarms would sound."

"Great," Buffy nodded. "So that's settled?" Her raised eyebrows requested an affirmative response from the vampire visitors – which she received. "Excellent." She turned to Xander behind her and pushed him a step back towards the bed, "Angel and Spike, night."

"And the Wank?" Spike asked before Angel could comprehend what Buffy had said fully enough to respond. Buffy's eyes silently dared him to not correct himself and Spike shifted defiantly on his feet in refusal to take it back.

Buffy's grin preceded her response, "He's just about to turn in."

"Are you guys sure this place isn't…"

"Xander," Buffy interrupted sharply. She pointed to the bed behind them, "Sit." She nodded tightly when she heard the mattress compress beneath his weight when he obeyed. "Vampires," she pointed back into the hall, "Out."

Angel backed into Spike in his hurry to comply and both stumbled out of the room, "But Xander's room is across…" The door slammed shut and they were both left staring at it blankly. "The hall," Angel finished and hitched his thumb behind him only to hear Spike's pained and angry growl in response.

"You soddin twit!" The blond cupped both of his hands over his left eye and hunched in pain. He stood up straight and retaliated by kicking Angel in the Achilles tendon, making him crumble with a surprised grunt. "You poked me in the eye!"

Angel swung back with a fist and connected solidly with Spike's knee cap, making him fall back into the opposite wall.

"I swear to God," Buffy's voice was clear even through the closed door, "If I open this door and you two are still out there I'm gonna start slaying."

Both vampires stopped moving and stared at the door silently, thankful, just from her tone, that they didn't need to breathe. Angel got back to his feet and rotated his ankle around while Spike flexed his knee. Suddenly the door opened a crack and both jumped and froze in place…only to be faced with Xander's wide grin.

"Just wanted to scare ya a little." He wiggled his eyebrows and smirked; "Now you two get a room if you're going to rough house." He held up a dismissive hand when Angel opened his mouth to respond and then shut the door.

~*~

The Next Morning

~*~

"G'mornin pet," Spike greeted over a warm cup of blood when Buffy walked drowsily into the upstairs kitchen area. "Sleep well?"

Buffy took in his arrogantly prideful smirk and scowled. She knew he was taking joy in the fact that not only was it 8 in the morning and she was awake, but also because he knew damn well why she hadn't gotten any sleep the night before…and it wasn't the reasons that Buffy wished were the cause of her insomnia.

"Coffee?" he smiled and shook the fresh pot towards her.

"Spike," Buffy spoke evenly through hazily slit eyes, and yanked the pot from him. She went about pouring herself a cup before she continued speaking. "You didn't hear anything, I don't know, weird last night, did you?"

"Weird?" Spike pursed his lips and tilted his head in thought while Buffy eyed him from her position leaning on the counter next to him. "Not that I recall, no."

"Really?" She sounded slightly perky. "Because I did."

Spike would have pulled off a surprised expression if he had been able to control his trademark tight lipped grin. "Well, we did say that the place was haunted last night, luv. Ample warning if I were to judge."

Buffy nodded and finished off her coffee. "That you did." She poured herself another cup, "Lot of British ghosts with nicotine addictions then too, I guess." The blond vampire shrugged. "In the vent in my room…making 'wooshing' and 'ooooohhing' noises." Buffy narrowed her eyes and Spike was forced to look away.

"I wouldn't know, pet. After I left your room I was pretty much beat…"

"So you didn't find your way into the air ducts and pretend to be a ghost to scare Xander…" Buffy looked doubtful. "Which, by the way, if you had, you succeeded in doing, and therefore, resulted in my getting 3 hours of actual sleep."

"Nope." Spike's answer was simple and trite, and Buffy nodded again.

The former Slayer reached behind her and pulled a crumpled pack of cigarettes out of the back pocket of her pajama shorts. She held them up in front of Spike's face and then slammed them down on the counter next to them. "The ghosts."

"Can't kick some habits."

"There are other things I can kick though." She spoke with a frightening amount of levity. 

The vampire's eyes flicked back and forth between the pack of cigarettes that the former Slayer was crushing in her palm and her eyes. "Do you know what it's like to be asked if I hear that once every 36 seconds. I actually counted it down to that, and the funny thing was – I *did* hear it. It, being you, scaring the crap out of him and pissing me the fu…"

"Buffy," Angel ambled into the kitchen holding a mug. "You're up early."

She sent one last sharp look at Spike before addressing her first flame. "Monty Python over here decided to be the rat he is and explore the air ducts."

The vampire fought his grin at Spike by clearing his throat and transforming the expression into an unsteady frown. "He is rather rat like," he decided on the safest answer. "I think it's the beady eyes," he said and Buffy turned and examined Spike.

"Oh sod off." Spike bit out and crossed his arms over his chest. "You," he pointed to Angel, "have a droopy forehead…and your shoulders are disproportioned to your waist. And you," he gestured to Buffy. "You…you probably didn't even know which shade of brown was your natural to turn back to, it'd been so long." Buffy looked affronted and Spike beamed, "…and you're what? 5'2…with a Napoleon complex… And you," he pointed to the newly arrived Xander who jogged in just behind Angel, his eyes wide and darting around the kitchen. "You have bushy eyebrows." The mortal man looked confused under the appraisal. "And funny looking nipples."

Angel and Buffy looked confused and half way disgusted at Spike, while Xander crossed his arms defensively over his bare chest.

"Why are you looking at his nipples?" Buffy's brow furrowed.

"And judging?" Angel tossed in with a grin as Spike sputtered.

"Yeah!" Xander pointed an angry finger at him, but then re-crossed his arms when he saw Buffy and Angel looking at him.

His travel mate tilted her head to the side in contemplation, "They are kind of puffy…"

"And that ones a little higher," Angel pointed abstractedly at Xander's chest.

"Hey!" Xander protested again. "A little less with the physical judging of me." He snarled at Spike's satisfied grin.

Buffy's expression immediately softened when she saw how uncomfortable Xander was. She took up her half cup of coffee and crossed over to him, reaching for one of his hands and pressing the cup into it with a warm smile. "I think you're perfect," she bat her eyelashes at him by way of requesting forgiveness and Xander broke in front of everybody. He dropped his forehead down slightly to rest against Buffy's and she smiled a little slyly.

"I guess the more deformed the better. Here here, mate," Spike spoke up and raised his mug.

Xander's head shot up, but Buffy whirled and responded first. "Dated you, so, you never know."

"HEY!" all three men answered after a moment of silence.

Buffy leant back over her shoulder and whispered up to Xander, "That wasn't an insult to you…" He smiled proudly and nodded at Spike. "…if I had wanted to do that I would have said you have an abnormally excessive…"

"That's enough OF THAT," Xander forced a grin and shifted under the questioning looks of the vampires.

"Excessive…" Spike prompted.

"C'mon, Buff." Xander finished her cup of coffee in one gulp and set the cup back down on the counter. He slid his now free hand low around Buffy's waist and missed Angel's curious glance at the whole exchange. "Let's go get dressed and do stuff."

"There's a first," Buffy winked at him and Xander flushed lightly.

"So," Angel cleared his throat over the beginning of whatever inappropriate comment Spike seemed ready to make. "You guys are going out."

"In the day 'n e'reythang," Xander smiled superiorly, and was elbowed in the side.

"Yep," Buffy continued for her tactless friend. "I managed to get in contact with my fancy free father," she sounded somber, "Xander thinks I should see him, and I kind of agree. We're going to lunch."

"Then shopping," Xander piped in, a little too excitedly and the two vampires quirked their eyebrows at him. "So that look," he gestured with his head to Buffy, "goes away via Visa and Mastercard." She did manage a small grin at his sincerity.

"Meeting the old man," Spike rolled his eyes. "Bloody good time. Tell me, pet," he turned to Buffy. "You try to introduce all of your friends to him or…"

"Actually," Buffy cut him off shortly. "My friend, Xander," she smiled sweetly, "doesn't get to meet him. He gets to meet Xander – and only because Xander, here – my friend – thinks that its kind of important now, especially… and I have no idea why I'm still even talking to you." She turned on her heel and slipped her hand into one of Xander's, pulling him slightly back to the door. "So let's go get dressed."

"Again with the 'we'," Spike said to Angel, but loud enough for Buffy and Xander to hear before they completely left the room. "What is it with the 'we'?"

"Usually," Xander turned over his shoulder, "It's a plural of 'I', including you personally and at least one other person – or in your case, voice in your head."

"And in this case," Buffy managed to sound completely disinterested. "It means me and my friend," she smiled again at Spike, "are leaving – together. We."

Spike frowned angrily at the former Slayer and Scooby's back until he heard Angel laughing outright at him. "She told you."

"By together, do you think she meant *together*?" he meshed his fingers together. "Or what about 'especially now'? Or…or all that 'friend Xander' emphasis?" He was met with the sight of Angel's back as the taller vampire turned and walked out of the room, shaking his head "Well, go!" He called out after him, huffing as another Wolfram & Hart employee came into the kitchen with three boxes of doughnuts, "Ponce." The elderly looking man in a jumper looked up, offended at Spike's remark. "Oh not you…SOD OFF!" The blonde stormed out of the room, making sure to go in the opposite direction of his grandsire.

~*~

That evening

~*~

"So!" Lorne's excited tone announced his presence before he was even in the room. "I hear the both of you have an ex flame in town…"

"Buffy's here, yes." Angel said unemotionally from his seat by the bay window in his bed room. Spike looked from his book at the green demon and nodded in agreement, silent for the first time.

"Alright," Lorne clapped his hands together at their less than enthusiastic response. "So where is the blonde bombshell singing the Siren song?"

"Right here, mate." Spike couldn't resist the self-acknowledgment.

Angel rolled his eyes and curled his lip in irritation, but then seemed to try to shake the animosity away with a deep breath. "She's not so much blonde anymore…"

"Ooh," Lorne smiled brightly. "Bold fashion sense, I already like her. You know, the brunette is the new blonde." Out of the corner of his eye he saw Spike run his hand back over his hair while Angel mimicked the same action, but with a satisfied grin.

"Well," Angel continued. "She's out with her friend who came with her."

"The hot stuff of the male persuasion I've heard so much about…"

"Xander?" Spike sounded disbelieving. "You've heard so much about Xander? What'd that take – all of four minutes?"

Lorne's stance remained casual when he regarded the newer player in their team. "Actually it was more along the lines of 'the boss and Sparky are going bananas over the Slayer' followed by 'but I think she's visiting with her new *special friend*'," Lorne answered and both of the vampires sat up straighter.

Spike shut the book and tossed it onto the bed as he stood up and crossed the room towards Lorne, his eyes dark. "There's rumor of them dating?"

The green demon sensed Angel's peaked interest despite his silence, "Aren't they?" he asked genuinely. "They flew from England together, they're going out together every day and night…" The vampires looked skeptical and Lorne couldn't believe that they couldn't see what was blatantly in front of their faces. "They're sharing that room, read, that bed…"

"You don't know that," Angel shrugged. "Just because he was in there last night…" He got support for his theory when Spike nodded vigorously.

"She's introducing him to her father," Lorne tried again.

"Her father to him," Spike corrected. "And that's just because they're all in town."

"Right," Lorne bit his lip to contain his grin at their flagrant denial. "So, I'm going to go," he hitched his thumbs over his shoulder to gesture to the hallway. He turned and mumbled as he made his way slowly back down the corridor. "Stay here any longer and they'll have me believing that we never walked on the moon and Cher's not really a vampire."

"They're not…" Angel shook his head and Spike pursed his lips with a nod.

"No, mate," the platinum vampire laughed a little. "It's Xander Harris…" He waved his hand flippantly. "Bugger that. Pfft…Xander Harris."

"Yeah," the taller vampire agreed with a sense of newfound relaxation. He laughed and sat back in his chair again, re-opening his book. "Xander Harris and Buffy…"

~*~

Xander lounged on the couch with his feet up on the short table in front of him, his eyes locked on the TV he was struggling to hear because of the low volume and his fingers combing absently through Buffy's hair, as she lay resting with her head in his lap.

"Are you sure you don't want to talk about it or anything?" he asked, not for the first time. After their meeting with Hank Summers, Buffy had gone mute to any and all about the three hours they had spent with him. It was almost as if she hadn't even been there with him. All in all, Xander wouldn't have said that it was a bad meeting as nobody had called the cops – more awkward on Hank's side and cold and indifferent on Buffy's. Xander stayed his middle ground with as few humorous comments as possible and locked next to Buffy. She had seemed appreciative and when they had finally departed from her father, the real Buffy broke free again; meaning the one who talked using verbs, nouns and vowel sounds, and sometimes laughed, too.

In fact Xander had been expecting some sort of verbal communication when Buffy had come into the room he was watching TV in, taken the liberty of divesting him of the remote control and turning down the volume. He had opened his arms when she sunk down on the couch, reclined against him…and started thumbing through the new Cosmo she had brought on their way back to Wolfram & Hart.

Apparently, as been proven by the last forty five minutes, Buffy had no intentions of indulging him. "I'm reading," she commented distractedly. "I think you're really going to want me to know this." She took the time to wink up at him when Xander looked exasperated.

"Okay," he sighed. She was usually right about that type of stuff, although he had no complaints about whatever it was that she already knew. Xander flicked off the TV casting the room into silence, "So – I want to talk," he started. He refused to be swayed when Buffy, with pout in place and innocently raised eyebrows, held up her article for him to see, ever so discretely pointing out number 23 on the list of 101 things to do to please your man. He did, however, suck in a deep breath – that did seem like a lot of things that, not only would he be impressed if she could do at the same time, but was fairly certain that the writers had nailed to a tee; only Xander would have ranked it number 5 himself.

Buffy pursed her lips and refocused on her magazine, "So talk."

He deftly pulled the object from her hands and tossed it onto the table next to his feet. "So, Hank Summers," he said before she could protest verbally. "This has been a fun filled couple of days between the undead duo, The House on Haunted Hill, and your father…"

"You wanted to meet 'em," Buffy shrugged. "I made it through, like, seven years without just fine."

"Yeah," Xander exasperated, "but he's like your last real parent. It's important that…"

"Speaking of, how are your parents doing?" That was a low blow and Buffy knew it. She watched Xander's expression fall, and sighed in resignation, "Look, Xand. I just didn't want the heavy this week." She grabbed his hand in both of hers. "I wanted the light slightly reminiscent, but shiny and new, fun with my honey. Was that too much to ask?" When he didn't answer, Buffy wet her lips and kept speaking. "Once he left and it was just us," she tugged his hand up to her lips and pressed a kiss to the knuckle of his thumb, "It was just what I wanted."

Xander's expression did soften then and he squeezed her hand back. "I liked it better, too," he admitted. "I like it better when you're happy. I…I'm sorry if I forced you into something…"

"You didn't." Buffy remained light hearted. "I'm glad Hank met you. You're important to me and it should mean something that I let him have the honor and pleasure of meeting you." That made him smile and he moved his free hand back up to her face, brushing the loose strands back away while she smiled softly up at him. "You should probably kiss me now."

Xander grinned cheekily and leant down some, "I think I just might…"

"Are you two hungry?" A new voice broke into the room and Xander halted mere millimeters away from Buffy's lips. "I'm starved." Angel wore an awkward half smile and rubbed his stomach. He heard a frustrated angry groan from his ex, but Xander sat up straight and eyed him wearily.

"I thought vampires didn't eat?" he asked Buffy, who was choosing not to sit up.

She did, however, manage to send the vampire an icy short glare, "No – I'm beginning to think that their forte is in annoyance, though."

"You know what would be good?" Xander suddenly sounded excited and sat up straighter. His hand fell to rest on Buffy's stomach. "Pizza. I haven't had good pizza in like a year."

"Yeah!" Angel agreed and both looked to Buffy. "We could get pizza and – and those, uh…"

"Breadsticks!" Xander pushed Buffy slightly off of him so that he could stand. She compiled with a frown while her ex shed a secret grin.

The vampire and the mortal were already heading out of the room together when Xander suddenly turned back to Buffy who was still seated on the couch. "Did you want anything, Buff?"

The former slayer managed a small smile and stood up, approaching Xander and Angel but then plastering herself to the Scooby's side. She nuzzled his shoulder when he draped his arm over her shoulder and began leading her out of the room. "Extra sauce?" she looked up at him through her eye lashes.

"Can I have extra cheese and double sausage?"

She smiled at his little boy begging routine, "No. Mushrooms." He pouted and she fixed him with a steady look, "Fine." Buffy smiled and leant into his side more while wrapping both of her arms around his middle.

Angel watched them curiously from about a pace behind and narrowed his eyes. "Buffy and Xander Harris?"

~*~

Four Hours Later

~*~

"So I was walking through the bloody walls," Spike took another swig of beer. "And peaches, here," he pointed to Angel, "…is goin on and on about how I should get out of his face, like I *want* to be here." Xander chuckled and took another bit of his, now cold, pizza. "Can you bloody believe that?! Who would want to stay here?"

"Well you are free to go now," Angel said dryly and Spike turned up his lips at him.

"Like hell I am," the platinum vampire barked out a laugh. "You blokes need me now. World'd be sucked into the bleedin ends of forever if I up and left."

"Read, I've got nowhere to go," Buffy yawned from the chair she was curled up in, resting her head on the arm rest.

Angel and Xander laughed at Buffy's inadvertent and half asleep joke, but soon the mortal turned back to the eldest vampire. "What's with that?" he gestured to his face.

Angel cleared his throat and wiped his hand down over his face.

"No," Xander smirked. "That…"

"What?" Angel asked, now wiping his hands down the front of his shirt.

"That thing you're doing with your face." Xander's brow furrowed. "That…grin?"

"HA!" Spike boomed beside them and Buffy buried her face further into the armrest to stifle her giggle. "Scared the piss out of me, too."

Angel shifted uncomfortably. "I can smile."

"You never did in Sunnydale…" Xander raised an eyebrow.

"Sure I did. I…I smiled all the time…" Even Buffy looked up in disbelief. "Some of the times…" He pointed defensively at the slayer in the corner. "I smiled for you."

Buffy shrugged and settled back into her seat. "I wouldn't call it a smile. It was more of a…a quirky facial tick." He frowned deeply.

"There you go," Xander smiled and nodded. "That's the Dead boy I know."

"It was charming," Buffy reassured and Xander sent her a look and the soft smile she unconsciously slipped on faltered with a forced cough. "In a dark, broody, eternal torment way…" She smiled again when all of the men in the room looked at her and then pushed herself out of the seat. Buffy stretched her arms up over her head with a deep yawn. "I'm sooo tir…" She trialed off when she opened her eyes again and everybody was looking at her, mouths slightly agape and eyes wide, so she cleared her throat and pulled at the hem of her shirt a little. "Tired."

"Right," Xander looked slightly flushed and cleared his throat some. "Night," he said to both Angel and Spike without taking his eyes off of Buffy.

"Ice cream!" Spike exclaimed as soon as Xander reached the door. He didn't like the look on Buffy's face when she began to back out of the door with her friend in tow. "We can all have some ice cream."

"Tomorrow," Buffy smiled over Xander's shoulder right before be lunged at her, lifting her up and out of the door with a squeal.

The vampires watched and listened to Buffy and Xander disappear down the hall in contemplative silence. Spike's brow furrowed and he slit his eyes at the doorway and Angel's expression remained as neutral between breaks where confusion was evident. Finally the brunette vampire turned to his blonde teammate and sighed, "Is there coffee?"

~*~

The Next Morning

~*~

Angel and Spike were still in the kitchen when they heard the approaching voices. It didn't take much to cut through the unmitigated silence that had reigned, pretty much, since about fifteen minutes after Buffy and Xander had taken their leave the night before. Now countless unwanted noises, low growls and pots of coffee, it seemed that the other inhabitants of the housing quarters in Wolfram & Hart were finally waking.

"I kept expecting the alarms to sound," Fred's voice wavered anxiously. "I was completely convinced that it was some kind of paranormal attack, but nothing happened…except what was happening to make that racket."

"I hear ya," Gunn agreed with a slight chuckle. "But I'm going to go with Au Natural for 1000, Alec. Bunk paranormal, I know just what *that* was."

"What?" Fred plead wide eyed. "If it's evil we should tell Angel…"

The two youngest members of Angel's team stopped in the kitchen doorway when they found themselves being stared down by two vampires. They looked haggard for immortals and Gunn laughed at them and at Fred's quiet innocence. "All I can say," he nodded to Angel when he pried the coffee pot out of his hand and sniffed it for freshness. Satisfied he poured himself a cup. "It's about damn time somebody in this place got some."

Fred looked skeptical. "You think *that* was *that*?" She slid onto the vacant stool next to the, now quietly growling, Spike. "I know it's been a while, but *that*?" Her response came by way of a wide eyed shrug from Gunn.

"Whatda you think, Angel?" the supernaturally gifted lawyer asked his stoic boss. "You have super hearing, what would you say?"

Angel slit his eyes up at his colleague who just smiled cheekily.

"What about you Spike?" Fred picked up on the situation and decided to play along with Gunn's taunts. "I mean, from what I've gathered, both of you should know, ya know…" she blushed despite herself, but still enjoyed the tension she felt flowing off of the blonde demon. High and mighty bad ass still had a weak spot, she grinned. The great womanizer was, dare she say, 'Wppshh' – whipped two years removed. She was surprised when Spike stood up angrily and stormed off to the exit…

"Jesus, Spike," Buffy exclaimed startled when the vampire almost collided with her in the doorway. "This room haunted, too?" she grinned and rolled her eyes, making her way past the clenched jawed vampire into the room. "Morning," she greeted with a small smile while heading to the fridge. She turned back after a moment of getting no response and found Angel, Spike, Fred and Gunn staring at her. "What? My hair funny?"

"Yes." Spike answered immediately and smiled when Buffy hurried to fix it.

"Oh, brava," a boisterous praise came from the doorway, followed by s series of slow claps. "Brava." Buffy's brow furrowed when Lorne breezed in wearing a bright smile and an even brighter suit. He stopped his applause long enough to reach for Buffy's hand, which she let him take, and bring to his lips in a dramatic show kiss. "Lorne," he introduced himself. "And from the ovations I heard through the central air system you must be Buffy or God."

"The first…uh...not the First first. The first name. Buffy," the former slayer blushed, finally catching on. "I…" she took a deep breath and extracted her hand from Lorne's to set back about her task of finding something to eat. "I…sleep weird sometimes. I'm a talker," she admitted quickly but then turned to Angel, "Is there turkey?"

"Yeah," Angel stood for the first time since the night before and went to the fridge. "I'll get it." He didn't know why, but Buffy's explanation provided him a sense of relief – despite the fact that he had heard…things…the night before and she had just woken up and she looked like she had just…and smelt… "Here," he tossed the lunch meat bag onto the counter next to where Buffy had set out her bread.

"Cheese?" she asked next and Angel went to retrieve it for her. "Oh, and mustard."

"I got it," Spike moved to the cabinets behind her.

Buffy worked in awkward silence preparing her sandwich with what her exes got for her. "Thanks guys." She smiled back at Lorne, "It's nice to meet you."

"As it is to finally meet you," the green demon nodded. "You're the stuff of legends…I totally understand how Angel lost his soul." Everybody in the room fell silent and Lorne breathed uneasily. "Or so I heard…in my mind…when I was leaving…."

"Ooh," Xander jogged briskly into the kitchen, blocking Lorne's exit and smiling at everybody but heading for Buffy. "Eats." They smiled at each other and she handed him the sandwich, for which he thanked her by giving her a sideways hug through his chewing. He did stop though when he set eyes on Lorne, "You see a green man with horns, right Buff?" he whispered loudly at her and she gave a sarcastic sounding affirmative. "What?" he asked and took another bite of the sandwich. "I don't trust your culinary skills to not be mind altering. I'm covering all of my bases."

Buffy scowled and pushed him away. "I'll have you know," she poked him in the ribs. "That sandwich is courtesy of Angel and Spike. All I did was the bread."

Xander leant his head down against hers. "Well the bread's the best part."

"I put paint chips in the mustard." Buffy said straight faced and Xander rolled his eyes at her. She turned back to the, once again, enraptured occupants of the room and cleared her throat. "Lorne," she said to the green man across from them, "this is…"

"Xander," he extended his hand.

"He's been hearing things," Buffy filled in under Xander's confused look. "Don't ask."

"Central air my soddin ass," Spike grumbled and then turned to Angel. "Why do we need central air, huh? Room temperature is always comfortable. It's why it's the temperature of the room."

"Nice to meet you…Lorne," Xander smiled cordially and then turned back to his sandwich.

"What are you guys going to do today?" Fred asked while blowing into her cup of coffee.

"Target practice," Spike mumbled under his breath and then headed for the exit while Xander shrugged. Everybody watched the platinum vampire turn down the hall and Gunn chuckled and rolled his eyes in Fred's direction.

"Up to this little lady." Xander grinned oblivious and gestured with his head to where Buffy was leaning back against the counter.

Buffy narrowed her eyes at him, "Less with the little, there mister." She then turned to address the rest of the occupants of the room who all, excluding the last remaining vampire, were grinning at her. "I was thinking I'd make with doing of nothing for excessive amounts of time."

"Vacation and all," Gunn nodded and Buffy shrugged.

"That sounds like a plan," Xander grinned and wiped his hands on his sides. He rocked into Buffy where she had taken her place at his side and smiled down at her. "We'll watch TV and…"

"I could take you on the official tour of Wolfram & Hart," Angel interjected so hurriedly that everybody turned in a muted shock.

Gunn looked skeptical and turned to Fred. "There's a tour?" he asked in a low voice.

Buffy looked at Xander quickly before responding and from the expression on his face she was fairly certain that he wasn't at all interested. In fact, she was right there with him. She winced for effect. "Ah…that's…as great and fun…"

"Why would they want to see an office building?" Lorne asked outright.

Angel seemed to think it over for a second. He swallowed a breath and shrugged, "It's mystical?" His audience brought that as much as he had sold it. "OR…or…w…we can all, uh, make with the excessive…uh, relax. TV…fun."

Buffy shook the funny feeling she was getting from his labored speech off and looped her arm through Xander's. "You sure they don't need you to, like, work…or something here, Angel?" The vampire shook his head no without thought and forced out a grin. "Good." She settled, a bright grin splitting her face. "Veg and movies?" She asked Fred and Gunn.

"They actually do need me," The supernaturally gifted lawyer took a slight bow. "But after my meeting I'll swing by."

"And I've got some reports to file, but I'll be there too." Fred beamed. Cordelia's absence had left a void in the female conversation partner department. She was looking forward to filling that spot, even temporarily. Plus, Buffy seemed nice – somebody who could be a good friend once she got to know her.

"Sounds like fun," Lorne said dryly, and eyeing Angel outright. "But…"

"C'mon, Lorne," Angel knew he was busted and his, now guilty expression broadcasted it. "It's fun. Reminiscing…"

"So, I take it Spike's going to be there, too?" The psychic demon crossed his arms over his stomach and questioned.

Angel's smile turned and he tried to cover it unsuccessfully. "Not a party without…Spike."

"You vampires are some piece of work." Lorne turned to Buffy and Xander – only the female half looking as if she knew what was actually going on in the room – and smiled gallantly. "I shall try," he bowed. Standing straight, he nodded to Fred and Gunn, "And to you two – eyes and ears." Fred nodded deviously. "Then I bid you farewell."

"Later Green," Gunn waved half heartedly.

"He's…interesting," Xander settled. "He's got…"

"Passas?" Buffy filled in for him.

"I was going to say horns." Xander bit his lip, "But that, too."

Angel clapped his hands together awkwardly, "Yeah," he said somewhat loudly. "Lorne's a great guy. So what do you want to watch?"

"Better question," Gunn to a sip of his coffee. "What do you have to watch?"

Angel slit his eyes. "I've got movies…"

"Surveillance tapes don't count." Fred pointed out.

"Real movies." Angel defended.

"Anything from the 1930's doesn't count." Gunn said this time.

"Right," Xander nodded. "Good rule."

Fred sat up straighter and tried to sound nonchalant. "Well," she looked to Angel and Xander. "Why don't you guys go see what Angel's got…"

"Movies, Deadboy." Xander clarified in a cautioning tone. Buffy rolled her eyes and he shrugged.

"While Buffy and I girl talk." Fred finished innocently.

The former Slayer only briefly caught her expression from falling and smiled unsurely.

"Oh," Gunn gulped down the rest of his beverage. "I'm so going to the office now." His coworker rolled her eyes at him and shoved him playfully. "See you in a few, you guys." Gunn headed out of the room, but then peeked his head back around the corner. "Don't kill him."

"I won't." Angel and Xander said at the same time, and then simultaneously turned to glare at each other.

Only Buffy's hand squeezing his wrist broke Xander's concentration and he turned, with softened eyes, to look at her. "Why don't you go get dressed and pick out movies?" she suggested in just above a whisper.

"Kay," Xander replied in kind with a half cocked grin. He let his head fall briefly against hers where she was still gazing up at him, before straightening up and disengaging himself from her loose hold. "Meet you back here, Angel?" Xander said in a completely relaxed tone that took the vampire by surprise…well, his tone and the fact that he had, and with no hostility, called him Angel.

"Yeah," the souled demon nodded. "Back here." He watched the mortal head out of the room with a slight push from Buffy, and remained neutral when he turned and smiled back at her.

"And you," Buffy's voice broke Angel's silence. "Unless you want to girl talk…"

"Got it," Angel still sounded somewhat out of it. He smiled at them both and took his slightly less confused leave of the two women.

~*~

"Angel?" Xander called unsurely and peered cautiously around a corner. He had succeeded in getting back to the room to get dressed, but when he had walked out he had gotten all turned around in the hallowed halls of Wolfram & Hart. He didn't think this place was such a huge maze…until he looked at his watch and noticed that he had been wandering for about fifteen minutes. "Buff?"

He knew this was the housing quarters, but this was still a bustling business. They could at least post a map or have a helpful janitor. Would it kill Angel to not have him lost in his creepily quiet web of evil doom… "Green guy?" Xander exhaled and shook his head. "…Spike?"

"What?"

"Arrrhhhhhhh…." Xander's muffled cry coincided with his knees buckling. His eyes rolled shut and he braced himself against a wall. The platinum vampire was grinning maniacally as he strolled to where the other man was calming himself and smirked with his arms folded across his chest. "How long have you been watching me nomad around this place?!"

"When did you leave the room?" Spike shrugged at Xander's glare. The brunette stood straight and locked eyes with him. "Looking for the Slayer?"

"Quick thinking Professor," Xander sneered. He still didn't like the vampire and the smallest amount of alone time he spent with him, the better. He prepared to walk away but then stopped and turned back to the vampire. "Where is she, exactly?"

"Why should I tell you?" Spike challenged quickly and Xander sighed.

The mortal exhaled an angry breath and focused on the wall opposite them. "Because we're all hanging out…including you."

Spike's eyebrows shot up and he tilted his head. "Buffy invited me?"

"Wasn't my idea." Xander said dryly. He decided that there was no reason to mention that Spike's actual invite had been placed by Angel and Lorne. He judged by the pleased look on the other man's sharp features that his answer was a most welcomed affirmative.

"Back that way and to the left." The blonde said just as quickly as he turned on his heel and headed towards where he said Buffy was.

Xander narrowed his eyes and took a couple quick steps so that eh was walking side by side with the man who, for all intents and purposes, was as much as a nemesis as Angel. They eyed each other for a few more steps before Spike spoke. "So…Buffy…"

Xander quirked an eyebrow. "Yeah?"

"She's…"

"Still Buffy," Xander supplied cryptically. He vaguely heard Spike's low growl of frustration and smiled a little more on the inside.

Spike rolled his eyes, "You know what I'm talking about."

"I actually don't," Xander replied sarcastically. "But I always chalked that up to your foreignness."

The brunette man would never know how close he came to getting punched in the trachea. The boy always annoyed the living… "Are you two…"

"Does that matter?" Xander slowed, suddenly interested in the vampires line of questioning.

"Depends on what your answer is, mate."

Xander simply nodded and took a step ahead of Spike.

"Well?" The blonde pressed once he had jogged to Xander's side again and they turned the corner.

"Well what?" Xander grinned cheekily, now able to hear Buffy's voice from the break room he was looking for.

Spike's snarl was unrestrained and he lunged at Xander's back, catching his arm and yanking him a couple of steps back to him. "Listen, you twit…"

Xander was still grinning and he knew that Spike hated that. With a sharp yank he pulled his arm away and straightened out his shirt. "C'mon, Spike," his voice was still good natured. "Buff hates when I go out and damage the merchandise…" he wiggled his eyebrows and slid out of the position where Spike had tried to trap him against the wall.

"So you are?" the vampire called out to the Scooby's back while trying to check his building rage.

Xander's shoulders sagged and he turned just inside the doorway. He faced Spike from where he knew Buffy could see him and shook his head. "Would that make or break your day?"

"Might." Spike answered stoically.

Xander nodded and shrugged. "In that case…" He beamed and slid into the room without completing the sentence.

~*~

At the Same Time

~*~

"Spill," Fred didn't waste any time after Angel left the room.

Buffy jumped at her abruptness and quirked her mouth uneasily. "Wow." She breathed. "You're gun ho about this talking thing…"

"Well," Fred clasped her hands together on top of the counter. "This is like the biggest thing since Coffee-gate. Everybody's talking about this."

"Everybody?" Buffy squeaked and received an enthusiastic nod. "Everybody everybody? Nobody here knows me."

"Knows you?!" Fred waved her hand dismissively. "Everybody knows you. Buffy Summers! You closed the Hellmouth! You make the vampires go all love sick and…" She gulped and shifted uncomfortably in her seat when Buffy's eyes dropped to the table top. "I mean…it's not like nobody knows…"

The former Slayer nodded slightly. "Coffee-gate?"

Fred sighed in relief when the topic was changed. "One of the janitors was totally stealing all coffee during the night shift. One morning the place was dry…lives were almost lost."

Buffy chuckled, "Lives?"

"Angel gets cranky in the mornings." Fred shrugged.

Buffy nodded in a silent agreement. Not fond memories of morning Angel clawed their way into her conscious. "So I'm the biggest thing since the caffeine bandit? Go me." She bit her lip and slid onto a stool opposite Fred.

"And now I want to know everything." The brunette sent the ex-slayer a conspicuous look.

Buffy nodded and thought for a moment. "There's not really anything…"

"You and Xander." Fred prompted directly, and looked apologetic when Buffy blushed and diverted her eyes to the table top again.

"Me and Xander…" Buffy shifted nervously.

"How?" the other woman asked. "When? Where? How?"

Buffy smiled shyly. "In that order?" She was urged on with wide eyes. "Okay…I don't know exactly. Officially four and a half months ago. Probably since the second month in England. And, again, I don't really know…he's like…I…" When Buffy looked up and saw Fred watching her, she knew that she got it. It wasn't something that Buffy could explain exactly, yet it was just as clear. "We're just me and Xander," her brow furrowed, as if in a pleasant shock, at what she was still accepting.

The brunette woman was bouncing in her seat and grinning broadly. "I KNEW IT!"

Buffy nodded. "He's just…"

"Angel and Spike were like 'Xander Harris? Never!' and I was like, 'Xander Harris. Get your heads out of you asses, you guys'."

Buffy giggled at her enthusiasm. She had missed the gossiping sessions with her best friend since they had all relocated to Europe. They had pretty much went in separate directions, only having contact for a few days in between at a time, and Willow had missed large portions of the start of her relationship with Xander. And Dawn…well, Buffy couldn't say the same things to her little sister that she could say to her best friend, not that the younger girl wasn't understanding when her big sister and Xander needed alone time after their various Watcher's Council tours that sometimes had them traveling in opposite directions.

"We just spent so much time with one another trying to put everything back together, y'know?" She received a nod and kept speaking. "And that was great and everything, but then it got to the point where it was like 'well, what now?' Wills and Kennedy were going to Spain to set up a satellite there and Giles was staying in Britain, and he asked me to go to Milan…we were, like…the Scooby Gang was over."

When Buffy trailed off and averted her eyes against he sting of tears Fred reached across the table and tentatively grabbed her hand. The ex-Slayer smiled her thanks and sighed. "I hated that we were over…and one night," she smiled almost dreamily. "One night Xander came into my room and said that he didn't know what to do. He could stay there with Giles or go help Faith and Robin in Germany…" Buffy sighed and looked at their joined hands. "And I said he could come with me and Dawn."

Buffy bit her lip shyly. She and Xander been together pretty much since then and just thinking about how far they had come still gave her little butterflies in her stomach. "Have you ever just…just woken up with somebody and looked at them and been, like, this is…this is…" Buffy had even implied what she was out loud until now, but she couldn't look this gift opportunity in the mouth.

"Oh my God!" Fred leaned further across the table. "You guys…are you?!"

"NO!" Buffy denied hurriedly, "But you know…it's like…it's like a 'no, not yet', y'know?"

Fred nodded again, shock still brimming in her eyes. "Well, not know, know. But I totally get it…God, I was so right it's ridiculous."

Buffy shrugged and through her still enhanced hearing heard Xander's familiar footfalls in the hallway, as well as his muted voice along Spike's clipped British accent. "When we get back," her smiled was slightly haunted now and Fred adjust accordingly. "He's going to Africa to update weapons software and contact some more of the Slayers we activated…it scares me how much I hate thinking about him not being with me now." Buffy's grin was slightly watery and she sniffled a little, "Collect your office pool now," she giggled. "This Slayer's moved onto the living."

Fred was laughing and she watched Buffy do the same, her smile genuine now as Xander walked into the room and immediately over to her. Buffy's demeanor softened and she visibly relaxed when Xander wrapped his arm over her shoulders.

"Fred," Xander shook his head. "This place is a freakin labyrinth. I might sue Angel for trauma," he nodded down at Buffy. "I haven't decided yet."

~*~

Fifteen Minutes Later

~*~

"There's not even any popcorn?" Xander asked incorrigibly while settling back onto the couch that Angel had gestured them to when they entered the room. He nudged Buffy in the shoulder from beside her and leant over slightly to whisper into her ear, "That's cause for legal action."

Buffy saw Angel glance back over his shoulder at them while he loaded the VCR and elbowed Xander in the ribs lightly in response.

"What?" he whined and pushed her back a little in retaliation. "It's a movie," Xander's grin was good natured when Buffy turned to scowl at him. "You're supposed to at least offer guests crackers…something…" The compression of the cushions to his left broke his train of thought and he turned the fraction of an inch to disturbance. He knew what he was going to see, but didn't want to accept it just yet. "What are you doing?"

Spike's grin was just a little too comfortable and close to his face and Xander leant back an obligatory amount. "Sitting," the vampire answered in a clipped tone.

Xander's brow furrowed and he turned to Buffy, who annoyingly, was trying not to laugh at him. He could see that plainly from the ill concealed by a tight frown/grin on her features when she shrugged.  He turned back to Spike, who was looking at the screen in front of them. "Here?"

The vampire looked around dramatically. "Looks like."

Xander bit his lip in frustration and watched Angel amble uncomfortably back to the last empty chair in the room. There was no lesser of two evil there as to whom Xander would rather have to share the couch with, and Buffy was no help in his defense. "Any special reason?"

"No place else left, mate." Spike still didn't look at him, and didn't need to, to be able to sense the aggravation flooding off of the other man.

"Well can you move over?" Xander tried next, seeing that he was getting nowhere. The movie started and Spike rolled his eyes, shifting in his seat. "That's not moving," the former Scooby bit out. "I knew you vampires were pretty much equal op, but you're sitting in my lap."

"Hey," Angel sounded affronted as the argument drew his attention. "I'm not…"

"Your sheer shirt, peaches." Spike grinned broadly.

"And the name Peaches doesn't help your case any either," Buffy tossed in distractedly while still engrossed with the screen.

"He's sitting on your boyfriends lap!"

Angel's exclamation drew the attention of all the occupants in the room and it fell silent safe the sound of the conversations on the TV. Buffy was glancing at Xander out of the corner of her eye and Xander was still trying to nudge Spike over with his shoulder. And Spike, whose jaw had clenched at the mere vocalized thought of that particular relationship, was being shoved further to the other side of the seat. Angel gulped silently at the build in tension, surprised that he had admitted to Buffy having a boyfriend who wasn't him so easily, "That's a lot more questionable that good fashion sense, is all I'm saying." He turned back to the movie and felt Buffy watching him.

"Move!" Xander finally pushed Spike hard.

"You move," Spike growled and shoved back, sending Xander hard into Buffy, who reacted by shoving Xander back into the vampires shoulder. Spike set his jaw and locked himself into his seat.

Xander glared at Buffy before refocusing on Spike while rubbing his, now probably bruised, shoulder. "I was here first!"

"It's my house!"

"It's *my* house," Angel cut in.

"Our house," Spike settled, and the larger demon rolled his eyes.

Xander couldn't resist, and Buffy knew it. He knew that she knew what he was about to say because he felt her hand squeeze his thigh strongly, but discreetly; but he spoke anyway. "So you'll at least admit that you do live with him?" he gestured back towards Angel and made it a point to wink suggestively when Spike glared at him.

"Only if you'll admit that you're an incompetent motherf…"

"Spike," Buffy interrupted her former semi-comrade's expletive. "Floor." Her eyes snapped when she heard him inhale a breath as if to speak and the vampire's mouth shut bitterly. "Floor," she repeated with the force of the Slayer behind it, and grumbling, the order was carried out.

Xander shifted triumphantly and smirked while Spike settled into his new seat. He stretched his arm up and draped it over Buffy's shoulders, shifting them so that she was resting her head against him, and cut his eyes to Spike when he heard her sigh. He made sure his eyes were locked with the demon's when he nuzzled his cheek against the top of Buffy's head – missing Angel's eye roll but hearing the leather seat he was sitting in squeak when the vampire shifted away from the display.

"Xander," Buffy whispered in a voice that was loud enough for all of them to hear. Her still acute hearing picked up a barrage of low growls, and she raised her hand that was resting on his thigh to his stomach and pat him though his shirt. "I'll fight for you, but don't push it." She grinned at the disappointed groan that vibrated against her ear when his chest deflated slightly.

"Told you," Spike muttered to get the last word.

Buffy shook her head, but she chose to let it slide when, Xander tried and failed to tactfully kick the blonde vampire in the leg.

~*~

…after Xander had lost the concept of "time"

~*~

Buffy was yawning as she and Xander made their way slowly back to their room. She had agreed to one movie, not the three that Angel had insisted that they sit through. "I still can't believe you hadn't seen Alice in Wonderland until now. What's the matter with you?" strained to get out coherently.

"Better question," Xander caught the contagious sleepiness. "What's Angel doing with the cartoon anyway. Not to mention The Sound of Music…"

Buffy nodded and reached behind her slightly, hooking two of her fingers through his. "Those whacky vamps," she shook her head and tugged him slightly closer behind her.

"If by whacky you mean psychopathically crazy obsessed, then yeah."

"What?" Buffy asked innocently. "You didn't have fun?"

Xander's harsh exhale preceded his answer. "It was fun six hours ago…then it was…" He thought for a moment. "Was it me, or did they really not want us to be alone?"

Buffy seemed to consider that possibility half way before shrugging it off. "Angel hasn't seen us in…"

"You?" Xander offered honestly. "Angel doesn't like me."

Buffy's 'whatever' came by way of a sigh. "…in over a year. We haven't exactly been yenning for quality time…he's just trying to…"

Xander's attempts to conceal his laughter were always perturbing to her. "Angel may have had a small aneurysm when he called me your boyfr…What the…" He shook his head and looked at the floor, seeing the object that had just beamed him in the back of the skull. Rubbing the spot at the base of his neck, Xander let go of Buffy's hand and stooped to pick up the…

"You're insane," he accused angrily, turning around and catching Spike before he could slip back around the corner. Xander flipped open the cigarette lighter he had picked off of the plush carpet and glared at the vampire. "You threw this at me!" he turned to Buffy, his anger flaring, "He threw this at me!"

"No I didn't," Spike denied evenly while under the accusing glares of the two visiting members of the Sunnydale gang.

"It's yours," Buffy crossed her arms across her chest, daring him to deny it. "And it hit him in the head…"

"To be fair," Spike challenged while keeping his distance. "Xander's head is pretty big. Could've been anything to peg him in that melon…"

"Like your lighter?" the boy pointed out tartly.

"Or a wayward gull…" the vampire suggested. "You can never be too sure about these things. Big spooky building, after all." Spike swatted at the air above his head for effect.

"You can never be to sure, huh?" Xander's angry grin turned into a malicious sneer. "Slay him Buff."

"What?" Buffy looked at her companion in disbelief, while he was staring down the demon.

"Slay." Xander pointed down the hall. "Do that thing that you do."

Spike's leer did nothing to calm any of the occupants in the hall. "I'm game, luv."

"On second thought…"

Xander was halted from charging down the hall by Buffy grabbing his bicep. Buffy looked him in the eyes and raised her eyebrows, looking almost pleading until he relaxed under her grip. The ex-Slayer snatched the lighter from Xander's hands and tossed it easily back at the blonde at the other end of the hall. "Bed time, Xand," she licked her bottom lip and grabbed his hand again, squeezing until he smiled back.

"Later," Xander laughed back over his shoulder at Spike while he was led the rest of the way to his bed room.

Spike's eyes narrowed as he watched them disappear into the room and the door click shut quietly. "And you just let them walk all over this bloody place like they own it."

Angel stepped from around the corner at the other end of the hall, his eyes, too locked on the door. "What did you want me to do?" He smiled suddenly through a suppressed laugh, "Throw my shoe at her…wayward gulls…"

Both vampires jumped when Buffy's door opened again and she stuck her head out. "Hey, Angel?"

"Huh?" he sputtered surprised. "Yeah?"

"Kinda trying to rest in here," she nodded with a grin. "You two wanna move it along or something?"

"Yeah," Angel nodded quickly.

"Thanks." Buffy grinned. "G'night, guys."

"Night, Buffy."

Spike rolled his eyes at the display and the door clicked shut again. "And I'm still whipped?" he pointed at himself and pulled his cigarettes out of his pocket. He turned and stalked back down the hall, leaving Angel alone, mumbling, "Lousy blasted goody-goody…"

~*~

The Next Night…and after the walking tour of Wolfram & Hart

~*~

Xander shook his head and tossed the empty canister of hair spray into the trash can. "That cost 35.67…"

"You spent 35 dollars of stuff for your hair?" Buffy opened one eye and looked at him from her reclined position on the bed. Xander scowled silently while she laughed at his expense. "Preferential question?" Buffy was still grinning while Xander shoved some more shirts into his suitcase. "Playtex or Tampax?"

His smirk was sarcastic, "Jokes the woman who traveled an hour and a half and spent a buck twenty to get back to her natural hair color? Hello, Pot? This is Kettle, yeah…you're black." Now it was his time to grin while Buffy narrowed her eyes. "I'm telling ya, Buff. You could have waited three more weeks and it would have happened for free. I know."

The mirth left his expression when his friend slammed the lid of the suitcase closed, just barely missing his fingers. "Oops," Buffy smiled sweetly and settled back down into her space on the bed.

Xander arched an eyebrow suspiciously and opened the case again. "You know," he started on his way to get more of his pants from the closet, having hung them up at Buffy's insistence. "Instead of being abusive, you could start packing. We have to go to the airport in a few hours."

Buffy shrugged indifferently and rolled off the side of the bed. She dragged her bag out from underneath, tossed it onto the mattress and flopped down beside it. "Can't you call and get a later flight?"

"For three hundred bucks a ticket, sure, why not." Xander replied acerbically.

She turned her back to him and seemed to be studying the dresser. Buffy stood slowly and, sort of, meandered towards the other side of the room. "You're a miser," she said pointedly. "It's not attractive."

Xander rolled his eyes and sighed. "We've been here for a week. That's our whole vacation…Dawnie probably misses you." He offered when he saw Buffy pull open a drawer and stare at the contents. His expression transformed quickly into a pout when Buffy carried, what looked like, a pair of sweats and two shirts back to the bed and flung them into her bag. "And I don't mise."

"Mise isn't a word. You can be a miser, but you can't mise." Her tone was clipped and she flopped back onto the bed. Buffy looked up at him skeptically, "And they let you be in charge of things?" His eyes dropped down to the mattress and he was silent, but she kept talking. "I'd send Andrew to Africa. He's got a grip on the whole English language thing….Mise…" she shook her head and casually lay back down and shut her eyes.

"Yeah," Xander picked up his gaze and jammed some more clothes into the bag, zipping it forcefully. "…well you're wasteful…" He frowned when Buffy imitated him from behind still closed eyes. "We wouldn't even have to worry about needing a new flight if you would just put all the clothes into the bag like you did when we were coming here."

Now Buffy pouted. "Going on vacation is funner than coming back."

"And they let you be in charge of things," Xander repeated her caustically. His sarcastic expression twitched away, however, when Buffy's eyes opened and she sat up; sitting cross legged and facing him on the bed. "Look, Buff…" he sighed and tried to think of what to say to get her to stop looking at him like she was. Whenever he was faced with that look it meant that he had said something casually that had struck her too close to home and he should feel sorry…or, that she was, at least, trying to get him to think that was the case.  "I'm packing," Xander chuckled and hefted his suitcase off of the bed and let it fall loudly to the floor. "I hate packing. If I can't fit it in my pockets I don't want to take it." He sat down and folded his leg beneath him, reaching out and tucking some fallen hair behind her ear while forcing her to look at him at the same time. "What's the matter?"

She looked at him and opened her mouth to speak, but ended up shutting it just as quickly. "Nothing," she muttered and made a move to swing her legs over the side of the bed again. Buffy was halted, however, but Xander's hand gripping her calf with a firm hold. "Xand…" she almost cracked just by his silent stare. "There's nothing, honestly. I just…I don't…I'm not ready to go yet."

"All this Angel and Spike fun making you jones for the past?" He didn't sound angry or hurt that her answer might be 'yes'. He just sounded unsure and nervous at having to deal with whatever was the matter with her. They were still fairly new together, and even with Anya his comforting was more of the silent type. One thing that he had learned about Buffy was that when she was silent there was something very wrong about to happen. "Cuz," he gulped and hurried to fill the void in the almost-conversation, "The other night I knocked my toothbrush into the toilet, and I thought there's that Xander Harris luck I was missing…"

Buffy looked disgusted and Xander sighed silently in relief that it was, at least, an expression. No facial expression Buffy was also treading in dangerous territory. "Your toothbrush was in the toilet?" He laughed and nodded. "You didn't…"

"Use yours?" Xander filled in with a vigorous nod. "Of course, I did." He knew that she only tolerated when he did that, which he didn't completely understand since she spent all that time making out with him. But, just getting her to scowl in that adorably play-angry way was worth it to him.

Buffy's expression fell again and she sighed. "You're gross…" She didn't like that that didn't come out in the cutesy way she had intended and that Xander picked up on it, his hand now rubbing up and down her leg. "And I still don't want to go yet…nothing to do with the undead duo."

"Ok, then." Xander was smiling on the inside that she had used the name that he had dubbed Angel and Spike. "Why?" She was silent and Xander reached for her hand, grasping and squeezing it when she kept trying to avoid his eyes. "Just tell me why and I'll change it."

Buffy's mouth opened again, the reason working over in her mind. She knew why, she just didn't know how to say it…she *had* never said anything remotely similar to any man. The closest had been when she screamed after Riley when he was taking off in that helicopter all those years ago. She ducked her head shyly, "I don't want to." When she looked up the last thing she expected was to see Xander gazing at her warmly. "I really don't," she reiterated, somewhat weakly, for effect.

Xander sighed in resignation and let her hand go, missing the slight shiver that went through her when the heat of his palm left her; missed when Buffy clasped her hands together in a vain attempt to recreate their broken connection. He stood and picked up his heavy suitcase, lugging it into the corner by the closet. "God," he breathed out and turned to head for the bathroom. "I so don't want to have to pack to go to Africa. I'm going to need more than that one bag for three months, huh Buff?" He didn't hear or wait for a response at first, but after a moment he stuck his head back out into the room, "Buffy? What do you thi…"

She wasn't looking at him and when she heard his footsteps hurrying back towards where she was seated on the bed, she knew that he had seen her shoulders shake slightly. She, certainly, knew that he heard her ill-disguised sniffle. Xander grasped her shoulders in both hands and pulled her into a hug, shhing in her ear to fight the tears that he knew must be ready to fall.

"Buffy…"

"Do you want to see if Gunn and Fred want to go get dinner with us tonight?" her voice was warbled and muffled by Xander's shoulder. She closed her eyes and tried to steady her expression when he pulled her back from the crook of his neck to look at her.

"I want to know why you're crying." He said evenly, but in a soft tenor.

"We could go to the Grove." Buffy said, feeling her cheeks flushed. "You like it there…"

"You like it there," Xander fixed her with an unmoving stare. "And I'd really appreciate an…"

"Do you really think that I want you to go?" Buffy finally locked eyes with him, her voice picking up some of its natural bite. "Xander…" she tried to get up, but he held her seated in front of him. "Xander," she took a deep breath and shut her eyes momentarily. "That's it…that's how it is. Simple. I…I don't want to go back to Italy because as soon as we do you're going to leave again…and I'd rather live here with Spike than have to let you go."

She spoke so hurriedly and softly that Xander almost hadn't heard her. The fact that he had made his heart rate pick up about ten thousand percent. "Let me go?" Xander ducked his head to catch her downcast eyes. "Buffy…"

"You not being there…God, Xander, I don't know if I can not see you everyday for three months. I hate you not being…not being with me." Buffy chuckled at herself. "And it scares me...MORE THAN ANGEL LISTENING AT MY DOOR!"

A thump proceeded the, "Spikes here too!"

"You whiny Ponce!"

Buffy rolled her eyes and groaned; drawing Xander's disbelieving attention back from the closed door. "It scares me," she said again in a quiet voice.

Xander didn't know what to say. He didn't even think that he could say anything that would be half way sufficient to counter that revelation, so he kissed her. He didn't think, he just leant forward and pulled her willingly closer and kissed her as passionately as he ever had. "Baby," Xander murmured and, for once Buffy didn't protest being called a pet name. "It's not that long…"

"It's, like, forever, Xander."

He shrugged and smiled. "It's a little long…" He complied with her shift when she lay down and, by her grip on his upper arms, pulled him along with her. Xander moved so that he was laying half on top of her so that they were still looking at each other while he stroked her arms. "But, you can always come down and visit for a little bit. A weekend here and there…you and Dawn." Buffy play pouted some and whined for effect. "Or just you."

Xander pulled himself up further on the bed and rested his head on Buffy's shoulder, hugging her when her arms wrapped around him in response. "And," he added optimistically. "When you show up, there'll be no creepy eyes in the room…"

"There're aren't eyes in here, Xander." Buffy objected again.

"…well," he shrugged and didn't look up to see then annoyed expression that he knew she was wearing. "None, expect for the camera I'm going to put in my closet." The play slap he received hurt more than he let on, but he still managed to tickle in response.

~*~

Wolfram & Hart

~*~

Spike ambled into the room, smoothing the non existent link and crinkles out of his lycra black long sleeved v-neck. He heard some commotion in the communications room that was adjacent to Angel's office, so he was headed towards it.

Buffy was leaving today…and all that meant that he had one last ditch attempt to win her back on his home soil. Outside of that, there were cruises leaving from San Diego every day, and possibly night, for his benefit. He could be in the south of France in seven days or less…just in time to offer his condolences at Xander's departure to Africa. Buffy's be all distraught and alone, possibly shedding tears for the boy, and all Spike figured he would have to do then was show up. Plain and simple, as far as he thought it. Chicks get confused when they're lonely, he smiled to himself. Yeah.

He turned into the small room where everybody was gathered around the monitors set against the far wall, and the first thing that Spike noticed was… "Where's Buffy and Droopy?"

"Just missed them," Gunn said with a minute look over his shoulder at Spike's entrance. The lawyer did a double take when he saw the vampire in all black – his shirt fitting seamlessly against the leather pants. "Sorry you got all trussed up for nothing," he smirked and drew the attention of his colleagues. 

Spike glanced down defensively and shoved his hands in his pockets. "I was wearing this all day…"

"Is that cologne?" Fred grimace and sniffled a little.

"No." Spike's eyes darted to her sharply and he headed towards the middle of the room where they were all gathered.

"Lucky Brand for men," Lorne nodded. "Robust yet tender. Shows you care."

The blonde shifted under all of the gazes, "When are they bloody getting back?"

"Next year probably," Gunn took no small amount of pride in breaking that news, although he did feel bad at the expression Angel was wearing.

"They left with Wes for the airport about forty minutes ago," Gunn nodded.

"They *left* left?!" Spike's eyes bulged momentarily. "She didn't even bother to tell a bloke!"

"They said bye…"Lorne clapped his hand over the vampire's shoulder and smiled when he was snarled at. "To us. Hey, Spikey, boobala, we looked for you."

"Yeah," Fred nodded. "You were probably busy…"

"Primping." Gunn smiled.

Spike's lips were drawn tight and he whirled on Angel. "Well we need to get her back."

Lorne sighed exasperated and held his hands up. "…and so it continues." He turned briefly back to the screen and shed a small grin at what Angel was still frowning at. He swore that if he listened hard enough he could hear the plastic remote control in the souled demons hand crunching beneath the pressure of his grip. "Tell Wes to swing by my office when he gets back from the airport, yeah?"

Fred nodded. "You got…"

"What if I wanted to go to the airport?!"

"What if I wanted you to be set on fire, too." Angel said dryly, his eyes still locked ahead. "Oh, you know what? Yeah, call Wesley back and tell him Spike wants to go to the airport in the middle of the day." The platinum blond was glaring at him, but it was Gunn who spoke.

"Angel, man. Didn't anybody ever tell you that sarcasm is anger's ugly cousin?"

Spike nodded in the vindication of Angel's dejected sigh. "And tell him to get me on the first ship out of here." He turned to Fred, "Harris is goin to Africa. Leaving poor Buffy all alone…"

"On that note," Lorne piped up and slipped out of the room.

"I'd go with him, if I didn't want to see Angel react to this," Gunn quirked an eyebrow and folded his arms over his chest. "So you figure you'd just swoop in and…" he prompted.

"Well," Spike still sounded proud of his planning. "She'll be all vulnerable and looking for a shoulder to cry on…"

Finally Angel's sigh drew everybody's attention. The tall vampire didn't speak, but simply shook his head and turned, rolling his eyes, to face Spike. "Rewind and play." He tossed the remote he was holding into Spike's hands and turned on his heel, following the path that Lorne had just taken.

"What the bloody hell is this ab…"

"Rewind and play," Angel repeated. He hadn't stopped and his voice was distant as he headed away.

Spike looked after him for a moment and then turned to see Fred and Gunn smiling eerily at him. "What crawled up his ass…" he trailed off under the silent scrutiny. "Is there something in the water?"

Fred shrugged and Gunn gestured to the TV with a tilt of his head. Spike sighed and mumbled to himself, following what Angel had told him and pushing the designated buttons. The dull color of the picture on screen came to life and he read the date on the bottom of the screen. It was from earlier that day, Buffy and Xander standing in the room that the ladder had conned her into sharing, amidst bags and other clutter that they were taking back with them.

Spike folded his arms over his chest and watched. "This can't be legal," he muttered at what appeared to be a conversation. "I should call the bloody police on Angel for thi…." He trailed off and leant further towards the screen. The hug he had just watched, he could tolerate…even the kiss…that long rocking kiss, and the fact that they were still leaning into each other when they broke apart. Sure he was a little queasy about that, but…

He could hear Gunn's chuckles from his side as he watched Xander hold Buffy back from him at an arms length and then drop down in front of her, still holding one of her hands. Then…then it was hard to discern beyond the obvious. The obvious being that he had apparently said something that made Buffy start crying through a smile so wide he could see it on the screen from the awkward angel that the surveillance camera was at. Then she collapsed to her knees opposite him, kneeling so that they were facing each other, and then there was more kissing…

"Still want Wes to get you on that boat?" Gunn was trying and failing to not giggle.

"Maybe you can make it there for the wedding," Fred spoke in kind, ignoring the heated glare Spike sent to her.

The vampire crumpled the remote in his fist just as the image on the screen rewound and began to play again. "Oh, bugger…"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The End