"Brilliant. You know, some ugly, decrepit, perverse old bird is going to show up at our door, she's gonna move in and this entire place is going to smell like...old woman and talcum powder. I just know it." Spike scowled at his unconcerned brother, merrily filling out the newspaper advertisement for a roommate. Not that they really needed a roommate in the monetary sense--they were VPs of one of the biggest publishing firms in the country for Christ sake--but they were both very sociable creatures, and they liked having someone else around to mix things up. Only Spike really didn't like leaving their roommate choice up to chance; there were too many close minded people in the world.
"That's a load of bollocks. We'll just put no talc on the ad," Will joked. He laughed at Spike's scowl and chucked a piece of paper at his head. Spike dodged the projectile and narrowed his eyes at his brother. Oh, he would pay. With a growl that sounded more like a smother laugh, he tackled his brother out of the chair he was sitting in. They rolled around for a minute until Spike had his unresisting brother pinned, his wrists pressed firmly to the floor, slender hips kept down by his own. He saw Will's eyes darken perceptively.
"No old ladies," Spike murmured, entranced.
"No old ladies," Will agreed, before capturing Spike's full lips with his own.
"I am never going to find a place to live!" Buffy moaned, banging her head against the cafe table. "I hate Faith!"
Willow shook her head at her oldest friend. Buffy, in her second year of grad school, had been living with her friend-come business partner since moving to L.A. The two had opened a multi-discipline martial arts studio, and expanded it into a combat weapons shop. In the three years since they'd finished college, the shop had gained national recognition for quality and expertise, Buffy and Faith even consulting for a few Hollywood movies! Then Buffy decided to go to grad school for business communication so she could help their shop continue to expand and grow. Buffy and Faith had been living together in a rather nice apartment when Robin Wood fell--literally--into the picture.
Robin had been walking on the upper deck of an L.A. club when a fight had broken out. In the midst of the confusion, Robin was pushed bodily over the railing and fallen a whole seven feet onto their table. That had been a great night for all; the management had rushed over and, in attempt to convince Robin not to sue them, had plied the group with free (an expensive) alcohol. Faith had gone home with Robin and they'd been a couple ever since. And now they were moving in together. While the cost of living in California was pretty high, Buffy had a decent income and could afford to live on her own if she absolutely needed to. Except she really didn't want to; she liked living with roommates, they kept her fresh and introduced her to new things. It was just lonely living alone.
"Have you looked through the classifieds?" Buffy was looking at her like she had grown another head. "What?"
"NO I haven't looked through the classifieds," Buffy said with disdain. "The only people who advertise there are ax murderers and rapists."
"Please. That is not true! Xander advertised through the paper!"
"Yeah, and he ended up with Warren the sketchy psycho stalker freak!"
"W-well, that was only the first try! He found Gunn!" Buffy just shook her head. "Oh! Oh! Look, 'One bedroom with private bath in UCLA. Graduate student, Mentone Ave. complex. Must be UCLA graduate student or postdoc. Parking, cable, shuttle bus to campus included, furnished living room. Features gated parking, month to month payments, no pets, air conditioning, dishwasher, intercom entry, microwave, gas range, balcony, fireplace, closets, yard, ceiling fans, laundry room, vertical blinds, heating, barbecue area, elevator, playground.' Come on, Buffy! It's perfect! What can it hurt to look?"
Buffy knock nervously on the door. The place looked alright, a little shabby, but on the whole not too bad, and it would be a little nice to be near UCLA. The door swung open revealing a rather severe looking woman with...blue hair? Well, they were in L.A.
"Yes, you are Buffy. I am Illyria. You will have your own bedroom and bathroom," the strange woman started, her voice stilted and flat. Buffy was a bit taken aback by her abruptness, and followed the woman around the apartment on auto pilot. "You are not to use mine unless specifically told otherwise. Rent is $575, due promptly on the first, not before or after, you will pay half of the utilities. You will keep all personal items in your room, there is to be no clutter in the public spaces. You shall also receive your own half of the refrigerator and the pantry. I have class until 4:15 every day, and I study until 7, at which time I have dinner. I must have access to the stove and oven at that time, to keep my schedule. Other than that, you are free to do as you please. No pets, no loud parties, and no overnight visitors on weekdays. Do you have any questions?"
"I'll get back to you on that," Buffy said with a weak smile. This was not looking bright.
"And I was all like, NO WAY! But she was being, like, totally serious, can you believe that? Everyone knows you don't wear plaid with brown! Just..ew, you know? OH MY GOD! Look at this bathroom! That is ssssoooooo cute! Awwwwww, twins really do share everything, don't they! Oh, I can't wait to move in with my two Blondie Bears!"
Will was two seconds away from murdering his brother. There was no way this chits brainlessness hadn't come through over the phone. He took a little solace in the fact that she had latched onto Spike and seemed to have a death grip on his arm. The ditzy blonde opened her mouth again and Will braced himself for the horrible sound of her voice.
"You know what this apartment needs? Unicorns! Oh, and some pink, I have some of the cutest doilies that we can put in the living room, and posters! Have you seen Legend? Tom Cruise was SO HOT in that movie, ohmiga!"
Spike had finally had enough. He grabbed an oblivious Harmony by the arm and started dragging her towards the apartment door. By the time she realized she was outside, her babbling stream of IQ dropping nonsense had given way to confusion.
"Blondie Bear?" she asked in a tremulous voice. "When should I move in?"
"We'll let you know, Harm," Spike declared, slamming the door in her face. He collapsed against it, sliding down with a bone weary sigh.
"Talcum powder sounds lovely right about now," Will observed dryly.
"No Willow, no more," Buffy said resolutely. She was done.
"Come on, it hasn't been THAT bad...has it?"
"Seriously Buff, apartment hunting can't possibly be more traumatizing that surviving Sunnydale High," Xander joked. Really, Buffy just had no luck at all; she'd been to seven different apartments and had a horror story for each one.
"I was attacked by the dog Cujo had to have inspired, been invited to join a satanic coven by the Bride of Lucifer HIMself, stumbled into a brothel when I mistook what the ad was REALLY asking for, and had a bottle of red paint dumped all over my favorite shirt because someone's deranged girlfriend thought I was the other woman! I am DONE!"
Willow sympathized with Buffy, honestly. That wasn't laughter she was trying to choke back, not at all. But honestly...who did all that actually happen to? Only Buffy. Who was currently glaring daggers at her.
"Laugh it up, Wills. Great friend you are," Buffy sulked.
"You know, Buff," Riley ventured, sliding his arm behind his girlfriend's chair, "we have been dating for six months. You could always move in with me." Riley gave her his most sincere grin. He honestly felt that it was time for Buffy to make that final commitment, to take one more step towards their inevitable marriage.
Buffy glanced sideways at Riley. He was a great guy and all...but she wasn't ready to live with him. That was a really big step, one she couldn't see herself taking just yet. Buffy refused to acknowledge the annoying voices in her head that were listing off other reasons for her recalcitrance.
"That's not a bad idea Buff," Xander added, sharing a knowing look with his buddy. He'd set them up, and was happy with the way his college buddy and best friend were getting along.
"Oh, look! Here's one!" Willow piped up in an overly loud voice. Buffy was her best friend, and what made Buffy happy made her happy...but Willow would be damned if she didn't do everything in her power to keep Buffy from moving in with Riley. He was a nice guy and all but...he was Riley. Safe, solid, extremely boring Riley. "One bed, full bath in a 3-beadroom apartment; twin roommates with steady job and good income. No gender preference. Pets possible, fully furnished living area, $350 a month, utilities included." That's totally unheard of in the L.A. area Buffy, and this is located in a really nice neighborhood!"
"Yeah, which means they're probably serial killer rapists," Buffy grumbled sullenly. Willow decided it was time to bring out the big guns.
"Come on Buffy, please! Don't give up now!"
"No! Not fair, Willow!" Buffy protested. But Willow's big puppy dog eyes refused to go away, even when she closed her eyes. "Fine. One last place."
"That's it. Officially, there are no normal people left in Los Angeles." Will threw himself bodily on this couch, his head resting in Spike's lap. He glanced at the TV, unsurprised to see Passions playing. Spike absently ran his fingers through Will's gelled hair, smiling at the contented sounds emanating from the tired blonde.
"Normal people are boring anyways," Spike volunteered distractedly.
The doorbell rang, drawing their attention to the door.
"Abnormal person number twenty-eight," Will said sarcastically. With a sigh, he pried himself off the couch, poking Spike in he ribs. "Come on, I'm not facing this one alone!" Spike groaned in protest, but allowed himself to be dragged away from his program. They were taking the ad out of the paper tomorrow, and they could return to their happily scheduled lives, minus the insane people.
"Ready?" he asked Will, his hand on the knob. He received a resigned nod and opened to door to...the most beautiful creature he'd ever seen. Her blonde hair flowed down to her shoulder blades, clear green eyes glittering with intelligence gleamed against glowing golden skin. Will's sharp intake of breath and grip on his arm proved he was just as affected.
Buffy was in awe. Two of the most gorgeous men she had ever laid eyes on were standing right in front of her. They were slender, but she could see the promise of muscle underneath their clothing. Two pairs of stormy blue eyes seemed to look into her soul.
"Hello, cutie," one of them said. Oh dear. They had accents. She was so screwed.