Xander plugged his ears against Spike's complaints about the limitations of basic cable. "I don't care if Giles had BBC America! You'll watch basic and like it, or don't you remember that you're the one tied up in the chair?"

Spike ambidextrously flipped Xander off with his right hand while shuffling through the channels on the remote control in his left hand. "Sadist. Bondage fetishist. You learn that from the unemployed librarian, who just happened to have chains to hand?"

"Shut! Up!" Xander debated the pleasures of bouncing a full can of Coke off an undead skull, then decided it'd only fizz all over the place and get the floor sticky. "I'm going to change my clothes. You're going to sit there and watch TV, then we're going over to Giles' for a Scooby meeting, where you'll find some reason to justify our feeding you. Capice?"

"Ooo, Godfather imitations, so scary."

One more growl, then Xander grabbed his clothes and headed into the tiny bathroom to change. He heard Spike muttering in annoyance, calling the CNN anchorwoman a badly dressed cow, bad- mouthing the movie on Sci-Fi, sneering at Christopher Lowell--then silence.

Silence? From Spike?

Xander finished dressing, then, after a brief hesitation of wondering if monsters had eaten Spike, he opened the door.

Spike was still in his chair, still as undead as ever, but he was staring in disbelief at the TV screen. Martha Stewart? Barney? Xander hurried around to see. Animal Planet? Monkeys? The narrator's voice began making sense.

"It's not quite clear what the purpose of penis fencing is among the bonobo monkeys. It may be a means of establishing dominance, or it may simply be a form of mutual grooming or interaction."

On the screen, two monkeys hung by their hands from separate branches, facing each other, swinging back and forth and bumping into each other. Fencing. With their erect penises.

"Pleasure is apparently not the primary purpose for this behavior, because the two males do not continue to ejac--"

Xander yanked the remote from Spike's unresisting fingers and changed the channel. Headline News, death and destruction, much more soothing. He stared at the screen, then looking down at Spike. The vampire was still blinking in disbelief, then he looked up at Xander. They stared at each other, both unable to form words.

"Time for the meeting," Xander finally said.

"Yeah. The meeting."

Later, they blamed everything on Giles.

"Yes, it's a standard course of study when preparing to join the Council," he told Willow. He looked a bit smug as he adjusted his glasses. "I must say, I was always fairly good at fencing. Xander, are you all right?"

Xander managed to clear his throat. "Sorry. Potato chip, wrong pipe." He took a quick swig of his soda and made very sure not to look in Spike's direction.

Buffy came out of the kitchen. "When are you going to teach me fencing, Giles?" Spike, sitting on the stairs and staying out of trouble for once, began coughing. After a quick, suspicious look, Buffy ignored him. "I mean, how hard can it be? Spike, how can you be choking? You don't breathe."

Spike, keeping his head down, just waved her off.

Giles was considering Buffy's suggestion. "I suppose I can show you the basics. It is a useful skill to improve hand-eye coordination, but I can't think that fencing would ever be your primary means of-- Xander, are you sure you're all right?"

"Yeah, I'm sure," Xander said in a tight voice. From the corner of his eye, he saw Spike was apparently chewing on his knuckle to stay quiet. "I'm--gonna go outside. Get some air."

Spike swung off the stairs. "Dark out. Whelp needs a chaperone."

No one commented as the door closed behind them.

They stood in the courtyard, studying everything other than each other. Spike took a deep breath.

"Don't!" Xander said quickly.

"Parry," Spike said anyway. "Thrust."

"Don't say thrust!"

Spike made an unambiguous hip roll. "En garde!"

Xander buried his face in his hands. "I do not need these things in my brain." He heard slow, booted footsteps coming towards him. "Spike, what can I do to keep you from coming up with some vile innuendo on this?"

"Innuendo? Are you implying there could be something sexual about the subject at hand?"

"Oh, god, the whole world is twelve years old all of a sudden."

"Might just be you," a sultry voice whispered into his ear.

Xander jerked his head up and glared at Spike, who smirked at him. "Aren't you supposed to be chained up somewhere?"

"Is that an offer?" Maybe it was the look of imminent brain implosion on Xander's face that made Spike dial down the lewdness generator. "S'pose we ought to go back in there. Listen to the Watcher and the Slayer chatter about fencing some more."

Xander looked at Giles' door with something less than enthusiasm. "Or we could pick up some beer, go home, and watch TV. Animal Planet is hysterical when you're drunk."

"Sounds like a plan."