Title: To New Neighborhoods, New Neighbors, and Booze!
Summary: An apartment warming fiesta brings mucho fun-o! Warning for a moment of slightly pornographic ice cream enjoyment. *snickers*
Word Count: 3,966 words
Disclaimer: Same bat time, same bat channel: Anything recognizable isn't mine.
A/N: Much thanks to my new beta reader Aly Kay (readergirl1013 or just readergirl as she's known on tth)!! *gives hugs and cookies*
The next morning found House reading a note on his door, not a single one of his neighbors in sight. The note read:
Just wanted to let you know the shindig is kicking off at 6pm, but we'll be home at 5, so any time after that is fair game.
Be there, or be – well probably considerably less disturbed.
House snorted. Who even used words like 'shindig' anymore? He assumed 'X' must be Xander. The handwriting was cramped and rushed, like it'd been scribbled in a hurry as someone was rushing out the door. He wondered where they'd gone. Did they all go somewhere together? House shook his head and got into Wilson's car. There'd be plenty of time to think about this later while he was dodging clinic duty and Cuddy.
House passed the note to Wilson as he got in.
"Who uses words like 'shindig' anymore?" Wilson asked.
House snorted again and they left.
It was about 5.30 when House pulled up on his bike, Wilson behind him in his car. The ducklings had all promised to be along by six, although they were all a little confused about why they were going to his neighbors' apartment warming party. Or why he was going to his neighbors' house warming party, for that matter.
House got off his bike and Wilson got out of his car, two bottles of wine in hand, and they went into House's apartment so he could get rid of his jacket and helmet and change his shirt.
Clad in a fresh shirt, a case of beer under his arm, House led Wilson out of his apartment and across the way to the neighbors'.
Wilson knocked, because House's hands were full, and the door was answered by the one of the new neighbors House hadn't met face-to-face with yet.
"You two must be the docs. Name's Spike," he said and gestured for them to come in with a flourish.
"Thank-you for inviting us," Wilson said and entered, House behind him, smirking at the bleach blonde.
Willow was sitting cross-legged on the arm of a couch and Xander was sprawled next to her sipping at a beer. Dawn was sitting at a desk, hunched over a book, rapidly taking notes without even looking at the pad of paper she was using. Faith and the other guy, Andrew, were nowhere to be seen.
Willow smiled when she saw them and yelled, "Faith! Please put down your new toy and get out here. And you had better be wearing something appropriate! And don't bring your new toy out here with you!" She was still smiling as she said, "Welcome to our home. Please make yourselves comfortable."
Suddenly a head popped out of the kitchen. It was the Andrew kid. "Greetings, healers," he announced and grinned at House and Wilson.
Wilson, at a loss for anything else to say took the beer from House and held it and the wine up. "Brought some drinks."
Andrew pattered out of the kitchen. "My sincerest thanks," he gushed at Wilson, grabbing the wine and beer and disappearing back into the kitchen.
"He means well," Willow said fondly.
Xander scoffed. "Come. Sit. Don't judge us by our over-excited, Star Wars geek," he said grinning.
Just then Faith came into the room, "Yo, Dawnie. S'party time. Put down the books and let's make with the fun," she told the teenager.
Dawn finally stopped writing and looked up, "Huh?"
"Guests. Booze. Fiesta."
Dawn turned and smiled upon seeing House and Wilson standing there awkwardly, "Oh, hi. Sometimes I get wrapped up in my research. Sit! Sit! Andrew, bring them drinks! What'll you have? Why aren't you sitting?" she said in one breath.
Wilson's eyes widened and he said, "Beer, thanks," as he sat down on the other end of the couch Xander was sitting on.
Spike chuckled, "Slow down, Niblet."
House sat on the other couch, "I'll have a beer," he said, "and the information about where her off button is." He gestured at Dawn.
The rest of the room laughed and Dawn pouted, "It's not my fault I get excited when we have company. We hardly ever have company."
"This is true," Xander says from the couch, "Dawn always scares them away."
"Hey!" Dawn pointed an outraged finger at Spike. "Spike's the scary one, not me. I'm just a poor, defenseless Key!"
"Key?" House asked.
"Inside joke," Willow said, "So, where are your other doctor friends?"
The doorbell rang as soon as the words left her mouth.
"Speak of the Ducklings," House said with a grin.
Spike rose from where he'd been leaning against the wall and answered the door again, "'Ello, Ducklings," Spike said and gestured for them to enter.
Three nervous fellows entered, but looked a little relieved upon seeing that House and Wilson were really there and this wasn't some weird prank.
Chase was the first to step forward, "I'm Robert Chase and this is Alison Cameron and Eric Foreman," he announced.
Andrew darted out of the kitchen again with two beers which he handed to Wilson and House. "Greetings, fellow students," he said, "Will you have a cool beverage? We have beer, root beer, Kool-Aid, and bottled water."
"Um, beer, please," Chase said awkwardly.
"I'll have a beer too," Foreman said, eyeing the guy with curiosity.
"Water, please," Cameron said and smiled.
"Coming up," Andrew said and took off again.
"Uh, that was Andrew," Willow said, "I'm Willow and this is Faith," she said, tugging the woman closer. "That's Xander," she said, pointing at the man, "Dawn's the one at the desk. Spike answered the door. Welcome to our home, please feel free to sit."
Chase, showing his true colors, sat next to House and Cameron and Forman sat on the love seat.
Andrew came barreling out of the kitchen with two cans of beer and a glass of ice water. "Beer, gentlemen," Andrew said, breaking the silence, "And a water for the lady." He handed out the drinks and once again disappeared into the kitchen.
"He's completely harmless," Xander told a nervous looking Chase.
Chase smiled, "He's got a lot of energy."
Faith laughed, "You docs are so polite. All the docs I've met before this were pretentious assholes with more money than brains," she said. "Most people would just call him strange and annoying, includin' us most of the time."
"You aren't big on doctors?" House said, sipping at his beer. He was going to solve at least some of this puzzle tonight.
"None of us are really," Willow said.
"Us and hospitals are strictly non-mixy type things," Dawn said. "We've all had some bad experiences," she elaborated.
Before House could ask what she meant, Andrew popped his head out of the kitchen again, "Dinner's ready!"
Everyone stood and made their way to the kitchen in an awkward sort of line.
The very large table was set for eleven people and the table was filled with a lot of food. There were several large platters covered in nachos, everything to make tacos, pans of enchiladas, fajita stuff, stuffed peppers, Spanish rice, and taquitos. There were wine glasses and cups of water set at each place, along with simple plates and cutlery. Each place also had a napkin and a place card.
Once everyone was seated and plates were filled, Xander raised his glass of wine and called, "Toast! Toast!" Everyone else also raised their glasses, "To new neighborhoods, new neighbors, and booze!" Glasses were clinked and words repeated and then everyone tucked in.
Very little conversation happened during dinner, but as people started finishing and got more comfortable, the talking began.
Spike, who was seated across from Chase, started the first conversation, "So you British mate?" he asked the young, blonde man.
House, seated a couple seats down, nearly choked to death on his stuffed pepper laughing.
"No, I'm Australian. Easy mistake though," he said and glared at his boss.
"Your dosh has the queen on it, don't it? You're British, mate," Spike said with a wide grin.
"Don't bait the company, Spike. That's what we have Andrew for," Xander said.
"Hey!" Andrew protested. But it seemed like a token protest to House. The insult from Xander sounded pretty token-like as well. These people seemed very close and it was more like an old bit that just was too familiar to give up. A security blanket, if you will.
"S'not safe ta tease the bloke who cooks. Might poison your food nex' time," Spike suggested. "Bloody get rid of you once and fer all."
Faith snorted. "Not very safe to tease your meal ticket either, Spikey," she teased.
"Xander's your meal ticket?" House asked. This puzzle just keeps getting stranger, he thought to himself.
"Spikey here has an extreme allergy to the sun. He can't go outside durin' the day, so he trades his body for food," Faith said with a totally serious face.
Spike burst out laughing at the same time as Xander, while the rest of their house mates just watched them fondly and the doctors looked on with bemusement.
"Guess you could put it that way," Xander said once he'd finally quit laughing. "Although, on behalf of my modesty, hey!"
Dawn giggled. "The last time you had modesty was before the cannon fodder came to live with us," she told him.
"They ain't Potentials anymore. Can't call 'em cannon fodder," Spike informed her.
Dawn rolled her eyes, "Mystical cannon fodder, then," she corrected.
"Um, raise your hand if your completely lost," Foreman said with his hand in the air. The rest of the doctors followed suit.
"Uh….," said Willow.
"Let me guess," House volunteered, "Inside joke?"
"Sorta," Willow agreed and the others nodded.
There was awkward silence again until Andrew exclaimed," Who wants dessert?"
Most of the table groaned, "Maybe after a little while. Gotta let our food digest," Willow suggested. When Andrew pouted, she said, "Sweetie, we're all so full from the fiesta food you made. Just put it away and we'll warm it up later."
Andrew sullenly nodded and complied, "Please retire into the living room and make yourselves comfortable and I will bring you drinks. Is anyone allergic to anything?"
Everybody shook their heads 'no' and filed out of the dining room.
Once they were all seated again, pretty much the same way they had been before, Cameron said, "Is he going to be okay?"
All the new neighbors smiled, "He'll be fine," Willow insisted, "He just gets a little pouty when he doesn't get his way."
Cameron nodded and smiled as well.
"So what brought you guys to Princeton, the city with….what's our city's motto?" House asked, looking at Wilson questioningly.
"The city with more highway than it knows what to do with?" Faith ended with a grin.
"That works," House said.
"We came here when we grew out of Cleveland. Dawnie wanted to try out college and Princeton University accepted our girl, of course. You'd have to ask her about Princeton University. We're just along for the ride," Faith said with a proud smile.
Dawn just shook her head, "I'm taking some anthropology, cultural studies, and linguistics. I'm going for some kind of social sciences degree, it's just not clear exactly which once specifically. I'm also taking some history, but that's just for my enjoyment mostly.
"The libraries are what drew me, if you want to know the truth. Many of the professors boast private collections that they are willing to give access to under certain conditions. Some of them are owners of books that are so rare that this is the easiest way to get a hold of them. And of course I couldn't pass up the chance to see the Blickling homilies or the Firestone Library," Dawn stopped talking when she saw the weird looks all the doctors were giving her, "I know. I'm the Uber-Geek of Uber-Geekdom. I can't help it. I like the books and the learning. There's my dirty little secret," she said with a grin.
Smiling, Willow said, "We love our little circus freak," causing the others to laugh.
House was actually surprised. He'd known she was probably smarter than she acted, but had figured street smarts, not book smarts. Not only had she been accepted to Princeton University, one of the Ivy League colleges, but she seemed to genuinely like to learn. This was becoming a very strange, yet enjoyable, puzzle; House had to admit to himself.
"So you'll be staying at the dorms?" Wilson asked.
"Uh, no. Special permission to live off campus because I'm already 21 and technically when you get right down to it, I'm not really a freshman or sophomore," Dawn explained.
"Our little brain here's already done a little college. While we were staying in England for two years, she did a stint at Oxford," Faith said and ruffled Dawn's hair.
Dawn slapped her hand away, and explained modestly, "It was mostly research-based. I mean, I took classes, but I probably spent more time in the libraries than in my dorm or a classroom."
"What were you researching?" House asked curiously.
"The Ancient Sumerian language, mostly. The whole college thing pretty much came about when I started getting frustrated by the works I was trying to translate from Ancient Sumerian. It was so maddening that I took up college to distract myself," Dawn joked.
Xander laughed, "She spent a whole week growling at anyone who dared to approach her desk and then one day we come home and she's shoving things into a suitcase with more force than possibly necessary," he told the doctors.
"We were sure she'd snapped or somethin'. The way she was tearin' about, mumbling about stupid musty books that were deliberately tryin' to confuse her," Faith added.
"We finally got her calmed down and she said that she was going to Oxford, that she'd already been promised a place, and that she was taking her books and nobody better try to stop her or we were all going to wake up on fire," Xander said and laughed.
"We let 'er go, a' course and took turns lookin' in on 'er. Spent mos' of me time in Oxford keepin' an eye on the Bit 'at first year," Spike complained with barely concealed affection for the 'Bit' in question.
Faith smiled, "She came around during her second year of voluntary imprisonment. Zen-ed out a bit and came home on breaks not actin' like a crazy person."
"What can I say? Books and learning sooth the hungry beast in me," Dawn said. Everyone laughed at that.
Andrew came out and brought them all drinks he said were called Death Star. "Enjoy," he said with a smile and darted back out of the room.
"This is safe to drink?" House asked, looking down at his drink with one raised eyebrow.
"House!" Wilson admonished. The ducklings all rolled their eyes.
"What? He's strange. You heard them admit it themselves," House defended.
Xander laughed and took a sip, "It's just vodka, grape Kool-Aid, and some dark honey. We wouldn't let Andrew poison you in our own home. How stupid would that be?" He had a twinkle in his eye and his face was lit up with a happiness that seemed foreign there.
House wanted to know more about this man. He wanted to know his secrets, his past, and his ex-girlfriends. Wait, what? His thoughts ground to a halt. House internally sighed. He was not going down that path. Instead he said, "Well that makes me feel a whole lot better," before taking a drink. It wasn't really half bad.
The rest of the doctors followed suit, Cameron making a face.
"You alrigh' there, pet?" Spike asked. He was smirking and had already drained his glass.
Cameron smiled at him. "I'm fine," she said, "Just not used to hard alcohol. Took me by surprise."
Spike smiled back at her, an honest-to-God smile. Not a smirk or a crooked grin, but a smile, "Le's get you somethin' else ta drink, eh pet?" he proposed, standing and walking to her, holding out his hand.
She took it with a small blush on her cheeks. "Thank-you," she said, standing and following him into the kitchen.
Willow and Faith exchanged a look, as did Dawn and Xander.
"You friend doesn't know what she's getting' herself into," Faith told House.
House just laughed. "Does he have a long path filled with redemption ahead of him? 'Cause that's all she is really looking for in a man. She likes to find the good in the bad," House explained.
"Heh. They're perfect for each other," Xander said with a nervous chuckle and the four exchanged looks again.
Willow and Dawn giggled and Faith rolled her eyes, "Want the dime tour?" Faith asked.
The four remaining doctors all said, "Sure," and followed Faith into the hall.
She opened up a door that had a strange design painted on it. "This is mine and Willow's room," she told them, "Where the magic takes place."
The bed was large and covered with a red comforter and more pillows than anyone really needed. A desk was stuffed in a corner with Willow's laptop on it and a book that was open. There were shelves filled with books and things in jars and a huge wooden chest sat at the end of the bed. The sword Faith had been using the other morning lay harmlessly on the chest and once again, House's curiosity was piqued.
Faith shut the door and started down the hall again, when they got to a door with a large sign proclaiming: "STAY OUT, n00bs!" Faith opened it and said, "This is Andrew's "Lair". I would advise against ever entering."
The bed was unsurprisingly covered in Star Wars sheets and a rumpled black comforter lay on the floor next to it. There were, again, lots of bookshelves and a desk with a computer. There was also a T.V. and several gaming systems on the ground by the T.V. and House was sure he spotted a couple games that weren't supposed to be out yet.
She shut the door and they went on to another door, this one with a really old and brittle looking dream catcher on it, "This is Dawnie's room," Faith announced.
Bookshelves, again. House was starting to sense a theme and he was pretty sure Dawn wasn't the only geek in this family. There was a big, girly, white and purple bed and another wooden chest. House was curious about what exactly was in those chests. They were both padlocked and seemed really old. There was no desk in this room, but instead, a white vanity covered in make-up and jewelry. The closet door was open and House could tell the clothes were practically fighting for space.
At the next door, House knew automatically that it was Xander's. Hanging on the door was a silver skull and crossed bones. Inside it pretty much resembled his room. There was a plain looking unmade bed, a nightstand with no alarm clock on it, but a Game boy instead, and small dresser. The only real difference was that Xander also had posters up and a small T.V.
"Uh that's pretty much it for bedrooms. This door," she opened another door across from Xander's, "is the bathroom that Dawn, Xander, and Andrew must share, hence the vanity in Dawn's room." The shower curtain was purple and cheetah print and the towels were black. It was a pretty generic bathroom.
"Does Spike sleep with Xander?" House asked and Wilson punched him in the arm.
Faith only laughed, "Na. He's in the basement. He's not big on the sunlight, remember? It's easier for him to have the basement than try to cover the windows with black-out curtains. Besides, it was easier to install chains in the basement."
"Now you and Spike will have something to talk about," House quipped to Chase.
Chase blushed and Foreman snickered.
"Like I've said before, please excuse House, we don't usually bring him out in public and now you see why," Wilson said, directing his glare at the man in question.
"No one in this house has very much room to talk," Faith said with a grin, "As long as he uses his utensils when he eats and does his business in a toilet, we consider him to be five by five when it comes to social standards."
They all made their way back out to the living room then, where Foreman suddenly noticed the time and declared he had to get going. Andrew, of course, was upset when he found out that someone had left without dessert and demanded they all have dessert now.
Everyone proceeded to file back into the kitchen taking their seats from before and Andrew served them tiramisu and strawberry ice cream, "Bon appetite," he announced and watched with delight as they all took their first bite and seemed to like it. When he was sure no one had any complaints he disappeared from the kitchen.
"Why do you guys ever allow him to leave the kitchen?" Chase said, "This is delicious."
"We briefly considered chaining him to the stove, but then we reviewed the potential ramifications of him not having a restroom or a good night of rest and we decided it'd be best if we just didn't," Xander said as he finished his tiramisu and started onto his ice cream, "Oh god," he moaned, "The ice cream is homemade. I love when he makes homemade."
"This is why Xander would never make a very good dictator. All it takes is a good bowl of homemade ice cream and he's subdued," Willow joked.
Faith snorted and Dawn giggled.
"Whatever happened to Alison and Spike?" Wilson asked, looking around at their absence.
"They could be outside or in the basement," Xander offered, "Don't worry. As long as Alison's with Spike she'll be safe," Xander made a face, "And did I really just say that?" He asked turning to Faith.
"Never thought I'd see the day when I'd hear Xander say that bein' with Spike is safe. You goin' soft in yer old age, Xan?" she teased.
Suddenly Xander's phone was ringing, "Excuse me," he said and answered. "Xander Harris, Watcher's Council. Spike? Where are you?" There was a long pause, "Excuse me, but did you just say what I think you said, because I could've sworn you just said chapel?" Xander looked like he'd just choked on something, "YOU GOT MARRIED?!?"
Willow, Dawn, Faith, Wilson, and Chase looked at Xander in shock. House just started laughing.
"You – you can't just up and freaking get married, Spike!" Xander spluttered. "Because it's just… it's just not done! No I do not sound like Giles! Stop trying to distract me! Wait, wait! Spike! Spike?" Xander pulled the phone away from his ear and just stared at it. "He hung up on me," he said in disbelief, "Spike got married and then he hung up on me."
"To Alison?" Wilson asked stupidly.
"Of course to Alison, you idiot!" House said with a malicious grin.
"Spike's married?" all three girls screeched as one. Then they looked at each other and laughed a little.
"You sure he wasn't jus' messin' with us?" Faith asked.
Willow and Dawn nodded.
Xander finally looked away from the phone, "I'm positive. They're leaving for their honeymoon now," Xander looked at House, "Spike said Alison wants you to know that she'll be back in two weeks if she still has a job."
"Does she know about….?" Willow trailed off.
"Can open. Worms everywhere," Xander declared, looking a little white.
Andrew came into the room and looked around, "Why do you all look weird? What's wrong? Oh my God! Is something wrong with my cake? Guys?"
A/N Deux: Chapter Trois is in the works. Coupla days and I'll have 'er ready for your enjoyment! Feedback is always welcome! *waves and offers cookies*