There's a monster in my kitchen.
He casually sits on my countertop, lightly drumming the heels of his worn boots against the cabinet below.
Drinking hot chocolate with those sticky little marshmallows.
With a shot of the Bourbon I keep locked away in the antique chest in the living room.
He doesn't look like a monster. But he is.
He has two faces.
I've seen both.
I prefer this one.
The weirdly innocent, "Who, me?" one.
I am told he is over a hundred years old.
He doesn't look it.

He comes into my kitchen when I'm not looking.
When I am alone and the house is silent.
I look up. There he is.
He doesn't ask much, just hot chocolate with those sticky little marshmallows.
With a shot of the Bourbon I keep locked away in the antique chest in the living room.
If he is to be believed, he and the chest are the same age.
Only he's taken time better because the chest is wearing away at the edges,
Slowly rounding over the years from the hands that touch it in passing.
His edges are still sharp, only sometimes he seems tired.
I know how he feels.
My edges are rounding with the years,
With every headache.

My oldest daughter treats him professionally, all business.
I watch his eyes follow her and say nothing.
She knows what lies behind that ancient man-child mask.
So do I, but I can't get past it.
He's lost.
My brother was lost.
Wandering aimlessly without a place to call his own though he was loved.
When I was nineteen, I found my brother in the garage after school, the engine of his car running, rags stuffed in all the cracks.
There was a smile on his face that I will never forget - it was the happiest one I've ever seen.
That's why I let a monster sit casually on my countertop, lightly drumming the heels of his worn boots against the cabinet below.
Drinking hot chocolate with those sticky little marshmallows.
With a shot of the Bourbon I keep locked away in the antique chest in the living room.


Authors Note: The relationship between Spike and Joyce has always intrigued me. While not exactly canon, here's a possible reason for her tolerance.