Living Conditions

By Sweetprincipale

Author's Note: Set in early Season Three with a few changes: Buffy is still working in LA, she never had the run-in with Lily that made her decide to go back to Sunnydale, and Spike's come back to California already. Both of them are living completely separate, unrelated lives until fate and its sick sense of humor throw them together. Part angst, part fluff, and of course, eventually a little smut.

Author's Second Note: Now, before any regular readers shout at me to hurry up and work on Unknown, let me tell you about a pattern I observe in myself. Whenever I finish a long, novel length piece (You an' Me Against the World) I have to write a short story before diving into big pieces again. It clears the writing clutter from my overheated brain. So please bear with me, I promise I didn't forget my other pieces.

Author's Third Note: This chapter sets the premise and is heavy on the details. Skim if you gotta.

Direct quotes from songs or shows are obviously not mine, but owned by the talented people who created them.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Part I

"You're not serious? Oh, c'mon, you've got to be kidding me!" Buffy sat down in her red checkered uniform with a groan, an official looking piece of paper swimming in front of her eyes- and immediately got back up. The floor wasn't exactly spotless. The whole place was slum bait. But she'd never cared about that before. She just needed a place to lie down and not get rained on, that was really all she wanted, all she felt she deserved anymore. And now they were taking that away.

"Condemned. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office..." The rest of the words were a blur until the end. "Vacate the premises within five days of receipt of this notice." Buffy sank onto the bed and curled up into a ball.

I could go home. No. She told me not to come back. She hates me. She's angry. I could go to- No, she couldn't go to the one person she wanted to, the one who'd made her feel safe and loved. He was dead. She'd killed him. Just as he came back to life. Buffy drew her knees in further and sobbed. She'd been doing that more lately. At first she was too hollow to feel anything, to even cry. It was like lead where her heart should beat. But now- every day was another little reminder that she was still here, and her life wasn't. Just was full of nothing, full of empty. It wasn't coming back. She wanted to be whole inside and someone took away all the pieces. All that was left was this big pile of tears that would force their way out on occasion.

The tears came like flash floods, only when she was safely alone. Five minutes of sobbing so hard she thought her heart might finally get washed out and she'd end it all, finally end it, die of grief- and that dogged strength would kick back in. Stupid human spirit. So handy as a slayer, so annoying as someone who wants to give up.

Buffy pulled herself wearily to a sitting position. She couldn't believe how tired she was. She would have laughed in your face a few months ago if you told her waitressing could be more exhausting than slaying. But it was tedious. You never sat, you always stood, you couldn't even lash out, run, jump, use other muscles. She was soft and lifeless, a wilted flower, and she didn't care. Except right now when she realized her feet hurt in strange places, simply from standing. Shouldn't slayer power combat that? No, not if you weren't a slayer anymore. Which I am so not. Never will be again. She didn't have a phone in her closet sized apartment, so after getting out of the horrid red and white uniform she put on one of her other handful of outfits, jeans, a simple plain white shirt- her anonymous wear- and hit the street in search of a pay phone. Scrounging for quarters left over from tips, she fed the machine and called the toll free number on the bottom of the letter she'd found tacked to her door that afternoon.

"Public Housing Authority."

"Hi. I-"

"For current residents of Public Housing Authority public housing projects, please press one. For inquiries about previously reported complaints, press two. For-"

Buffy laid her head on top of the phone box, listened for options, feeding the computer chipped voice quarter after quarter of her hard earned money. Finally, she was able to make a selection to talk to a real person. Not a terribly helpful real person, but ...

"Good evening, this is the PHA, how can I help you?"

"I got a letter saying I have to leave my apartment in five days." Buffy informed the droning voice in a soft, puzzled tone.

"What is your address?"

"501 Hanfield."

"You're not arrears in your rent-"

"I know!" I make nothing, I buy nothing, but I pay my rent. Sometimes I have enough to pay for the fun stuff like soap and laundry powder, too.

"-it's simply that several buildings did not past the annual inspections done in Los Angeles County. Your housing was on Hanfield? Hanfield, Hanfield, yes... your dwelling is noncompliant with seventeen different health and safety inspection codes. It's condemned until brought up to the codes required by this authority."

Buffy felt anger churn in her stomach. You just now noticed that? Did the landlord miss his bribe payments? It's not my fault, I didn't infest it with bugs and mess up the wiring and plumbing and everything else! What about us, the poor residents? Five days to find an apartment I can afford that's not going to get immediately closed down, where they don't look too hard at my fake ID and will take cash on a Friday instead of a check and proof of address? Just as quickly as anger rose, it died. What did it matter if she lived on the street, really? She'd survive. She couldn't seem to stop herself from doing that. "What am I supposed to do?" She asked in a tired voice.

"You show that letter at the Housing Authority office and they will put you on the top of the list for one of the rent controlled properties in the area."

"I can't really afford those places. I looked." Buffy felt more hopeless by the second. She'd ended up in the now condemned filth pit because she couldn't afford anything else, and other, nicer, legally run apartment houses had that pesky habit of asking for some legal proof of identification. So she lived in squalor and worked at a greasy spoon where the manager paid under the table and the turn over rate for her staff was high.

"You have the option to rent an apartment and apply for roommate matching to split the cost. There's no fee to use the matching service. If you can't be matched, you may pay one week's rent at the current cost of your old rental property and stay there while looking for another place you can afford. That's the best we can do. I'm going to tell you the address of the PHA nearest your current address. They open tomorrow morning at 8:00. Here is the address-"

Buffy closed her eyes as the woman rattled it off. She didn't have a pen. Or anything to write with. And she sucked at directions. "Thank-" there was a sharp click in her ear, "you."

She dragged herself back inside. She stood under the lukewarm water and then stared at the single bulb above her bed until she fell asleep.

When she dreamed, there was warmth, and light, and laughter. Sunset on a beach, Angel's arms around her. "How did you find me here?" She'd made sure no one could find her, changed her name, her attitude, her life. And he still found her. Because they had true love. Buffy smiled contentedly in her sleep and whispered in an imaginary ear.

" If I was blind, I would see you." His husky voice reassured her.

"Stay with me."

" Forever. That's the whole point. I'll never leave." The husky voice dropped to a mere whisper, intimate, just for her. "Not even if you kill me."

Buffy's sweet smile of repose gradually became dismayed, then outright upset. "Why would I-"

"Ghhh!" Angel's form suddenly doubled over hers, and he was sucked into the waves as they changed from calm lapping brushes against their feet to a torrent of fierce black and red light. A portal. "Buffy." He croaked.

And then he was gone. Buffy's eyes flew open.

Daylight. Just a dream.

How can it be just a dream if it really happened?

Tears threatened to erupt spontaneously. They didn't emerge. It was like watching someone slip a mask over the young girl's face. There had been one wild-eyed second of fear and confusion- and now there was clay. Carved clay, empty eyes, a death mask worn by a member of the living community.

"Work. Then- house stuff." Buffy stumbled into her uniform and out the door, one foot in front of the other.

Spike tripped over his own feet as he crashed into the dank little flat of the man he'd had for dinner. He belched uncomfortably. He was living on alcohol more than blood lately. Speaking of which- he lurched to his feet, and rummaged through the tiny fridge and the dilapidated cupboards. Bloke had tasted like an alcoholic, blood was saturated with it, there must be some somewhere...

"Oh, yes. Jackpot." Spike lifted the bottle of rotgut from under the sink, wiped it off with his hand, and began prying the top off. His insides complained at the first sip, and that took some doing for a vampire. He didn't care. Drink calmed the pain. Well, it shut it the bloody fuck up, at least.

"Look at me now, Dru. You see me in your batty little mind, Princess?" He sneered at the ceiling. "A mansion in Buenos Aires to a shit heap in LA in two easy steps." He swigged heavily and collapsed onto a couch. A rat squeaked and skittered out from under it. "Piss off!" Spike slurred and kicked a cushion after it. "My shit heap, not yours. Or I'll eat you for afters." He told the rodent. "Not yours, either." He sneered at the corpse in the corner. "Not anymore. That's life. You have somethin'. Someone else takes it." He drained half the bottle in one long series of gulps without pause. Like Dru. His. Then Angelus' took her. Then she left him. Didn't even have the decency to kill him, just left him. Said she hoped they might see one another someday. Be friends.

"We can't be friends, you stupid bitch! Not when you keep doin' this to me!" He howled. "Bitch! Stupid-" The howling broke off with a stifled sob. "Why'd you leave me, Baby? Wasn't I makin' you happy?"

Soon the bottle was empty, and Spike was drifting off to sleep on the couch of the drunk he'd followed home from the bar. That had been what he was doing since he came to Los Angeles a week or so ago. He hated this city. He didn't like the way the vamps in this city rolled. Too much like Angelus for his taste.

Spike came awake again with a snarl of hatred. His fault. All his fault, Angelus and his finery and frippery. Way he bred Drusilla to love the finer things, to live in mansions instead of in hiding, live like royalty instead of like demons. Not that he objected to that, not when he was with his princess. Give her what she wanted. Give her the world, quite literally, for all the good it did him.

"Save the world, an' you ask for the stars instead. A man can't fly without his beautiful black swan to ride upon...That rhymes. Poetry never did me any bloody good..." Spike looked heavenwards. How she could see the stars through ceilings, how she'd see angels aflame. Like to flame a certain Angelus, that's for damn sure. Spike rolled over, and promptly fell off the couch, earning a chorus of startled squeaks and scurrying.

With a shout, he leapt back up, looked around in annoyance and sat back down, arms crossed, staring at the sunlight as it began to show through the newspaper curtains taped to the windows. "Ought to be underground. Sewers. Warehouses. Bellies of ships even. But not in bleedin' LA, no, vamps mix in here. Vamps walk with the humans, blend with the crowd." Unless you want to fight, prove you're the biggest and the baddest. Spike put his head in his hands and sobbed. That was the first time he'd realized how far gone he was. He didn't want to fight. He didn't give a damn about his superiority as nastiest set of fangs in a century, Slayer of Slayers, vampire with one hell of a reputation. "Nothin' left to fight for without her." He whispered wetly. He finally fell asleep.

Buffy shuffled from the bus to the small, depressed looking building. It had that bureaucratic sense of futility somehow imbedded in the concrete facade. Once inside, she stared at the black boards with their white arrangeable letter tiles until she could sort them out into words that equalled departments. Feeling more dead than alive, especially since she'd come straight from her 7-4 pm shift at the diner, she climbed three flights of stairs to present her letter to the Public Housing Authority's Southern Central Los Angeles Housing Center.

"Hi. Um. I talked to someone last night and she told me to come here to see about rental properties?" Buffy murmured nervously when she finally got to the front of the line.

"Address?" The woman at the front desk seemed slightly bored by it all, didn't even look up at the girl from behind the inch thick glass that kept her apart from the masses.

"501 Hanfield."

"Oh yes. You're the third one today. I'm sorry, there's a very long list, and even with priority, there's not a lot of options left."

"Okay." Buffy shrugged.

The woman looked up from her forms and computer screens. She saw hopeless people all the time. But usually not someone so young. So young and so beautiful, even fresh faced, but so world weary. Even my eyes don't have that many circles under them.

"You have a lot of furniture?"

Buffy seemed to momentarily come alive. "None."

"Boyfriend? Kids? Parents?"

"Just me." Buffy's voice cracked suddenly and she cleared it. "Sorry. No, just me." She repeated more firmly, eyes flickering away. I killed my boyfriend. We never would have had kids. My mom threw me out. My dad isn't around. I could stay with him if things got bad, but then he'd tell Mom. She'd find me. They'd all find me, I'd have to face them. Face Giles. Willow. What happened to them, it's all my fault...

"Just you and your personal possessions?" The clerk didn't feel pity, because it'd never work to feel pity in her job. Everybody has their sad story, you know that's true. But still. This little thing, she didn't seem too far gone, just drifting. Wouldn't take too much effort to give her a few little nudges. "You should try the roommate match up. You could save some money, get yourself a nicer place faster. They have furnished units, too, not many of them right now, but you do get priority because your residence is condemned, which means you're considered no-fault, no-risk."

Oh, if only you knew about the amount of risks and faults. Buffy just nodded, eyes widening as she tried to pay attention to something outside of her small, closeted self for the first time in weeks. Waitressing was easy. You had a little pad, and the menu only had thirty items. She could remember thirty items, with the help of the little pad, anyway.

"Take the roommate match up application, fill it out, and come back in-" the lady scanned the paper, "come back in three days. We'll have something by then." She handed her a form and whispered conspiratorially, "Don't get too picky, Honey. Picky people don't get matched."

Buffy nodded again, and walked to one of the small tables in the corner of the office. She quickly walked back. "Can I borrow a pen, please?"

Buffy scanned the paper. A page for lies. She was good at them now, and she no longer really considered anything she said a lie, merely different shades of survival.

Name:Anne Smith Buffy. My real name sounds more fake than my fake name. So no harm done, right?

Contact Information: N/A I don't have a phone. I'm about to lose my address and they already know that.

Age: 18 Okay, seventeen, but not a lie. I'm an adult. I must be. Mom thinks I can live on my own, or she wouldn't have told me never to come back. The people in charge of the universe made me a slayer which means i'm going to die young anyway. What's another year thrown on, they're sure not handing out time. In this city, everyone's 18 and up, or you don't get to be any older.

Gender: Female

Roommate Gender preference: None. I don't care. Why would I care? It's a person who I'm not going to talk to except to say pay your rent or I'll kill you.

Age range: None. I'm the last person to talk about age range. I'm a seventeen year old dating a guy who lived through a bicentennial. She blinked hastily. Well, used to date.

Do you smoke? Do you mind if your roommate smokes?: I don't and I don't care.

What are you looking for in a roommate?: I don't want a friend, I want a roommate. I want someone who pays their half of the bills on time, doesn't eat my food out of the fridge, and doesn't care what hours I work, and doesn't ask a lot of questions

Describe Yourself:

Buffy balked. I'm a failure and I killed the man I loved. I believe in vampires and witches. Sometimes I think the last few years have been a bad dream, and maybe I should be in some nice padded cell. I don't want to describe myself. I hate myself.

Describe Yourself:

It was the last question on the paper, and no matter how hard she stared, it refused to vanish off the page. She gripped the pen and just let her hand fly. She wrote what she felt. The basics. Because she only needed the basics, and she was never going to be close to anyone ever again, so why tell them more?

Describe Yourself: I'm a night owl. I like to sleep in when I can- so I don't want someone who blares music all the time. I'm quiet, I don't party, I pay my way, I take care of myself. I work, I come home.

Her pen skidded as she placed a period at the end. Thoughts of her old life kept trying to force their way into the ink, but she put the pen down firmly.

I used to like to go to dance clubs. I used to like shopping, I used to love hanging out with my friends. I used to work out. Go to the library. Watch movies with my mom. Study with my friends. Cheerlead. Get manicures and pedicures and go to salons... I don't do that at all anymore. I don't do anything anymore.

She read the paper over. I sound like a robot. Or a drone. Like I'm nothing and no one. Well- good.

Buffy sealed the application and handed it into the woman at the desk. She walked out without a backwards glance, hurrying home before darkness fell.

Only the preternatural awareness of darkness was enough to get Spike out of his drunken stupor. As night came over the city completely, Spike stretched, snarled, and lifted his head. It pounded, but he knew what would fix it. Little hair of the wolf that bit him. He chuckled and shuffled over to the body of the apartment's previous owner. Reaching inside his tattered pocket, he took out his wallet and saw what he'd gotten.

"Dear, dear. Not too prosperous, were you?" Spike asked the still form, pulling out a few crumpled dollar bills and some papers. "Oh, well. I don't need a lot, just enough to make the blinding pain stop."

Spike made his way out of the flat and headed for the liquor store. He'd only been in this area a few days, but he had his routine. It wasn't the routine he wanted, but as life had so recently shown him, he didn't get what he wanted. His night consisted of get drunk, find a target as a bar closed, follow the target to their door- pounce. Eat, take the wallet, take the keys, and get inside. Sleep out of the sun and in the evening do it again.

That was hunting. That was true survival and he liked it. If he didn't make the right kill, he would be scrambling to avoid the sun. Each kill really meant his continued existence. But there were risks involved, risks he didn't like, because he knew he was at the lowest point of his game, sloppy and heartbroken, the risk of being caught in the sun almost a pleasant thing to consider, an end to his misery. He wouldn't cheat death for long, not like that. He'd already escaped eternity once, he wouldn't be so long a second time.

One night he'd follow the wrong person home. A person who didn't live alone, maybe, and then dead or not, he wouldn't be able to enter the house because a living soul still remained there and hadn't issued the invitation. Or he'd follow the mark to a friend's house, or one of those upscale locked-lobby places, technically the lobby was public, but past that- ohhh, his head hurt from all this bloody thinking.

The booze didn't help, but he knew that wasn't the only reason he felt like he was moving through treacle. He hadn't thought for just his own welfare in so long. He was rusty at basic survival, he was good at setting up dark little castles, not exactly opulent, but always a posh room or two for his demonic ladylove. Feeding her, getting minions to attend to the day to day business while he planned his next massacre, next brawl that made him a legend, trailed enemies or Slayers.

"Y'know what it is?" Spike said abruptly to the gentleman next to him in the liquor store.

"Me?" The man backed away warily.

"Yeah, you. I'm a people person. Love 'em. All kinds. 'Sepcially the younger ones." He sighed. "Family man, me. Not good at bein' on my own."

"Divorce?" The guy felt some sympathy, a scared and weirded out sympathy though it was.

"Separated. She left me for another- she left me."

"Oh, buddy. That sucks."

"Doesn't it?" Spike pulled several bottles off the shelf and hugged them to his chest. "Now it's jus' the four of us." He looked at the three bottles in his arms. "All alone in the world..."

"Oh. It happens a lot these days."

"Not to us!" Spike cried, flinging his arm out, nearly knocking out a display rack. "Together for decades! Oh sure, there were a few little jaunts she went on, but I was always there to bring her back! Now she doesn't want to be brought back. Wants to be friends! Soddin' friends!"

"I hate when chicks do that." Spike's unlikely comrade agreed, although now convinced the man wasn't all there. He couldn't be more than thirty, yet he spoke of decades with this nameless unfaithful female.

"Sound like a fellow sufferer." Spike sized him up. Graying, fifties. Ergh. Hate mutton. Buyin' somethin' cheap. Wine, but only one bottle, a little ratty looking- dammit. Wedding ring! You're off the menu, pops.

"Oh, my first wife did that. But it was the seventies, flower children. Peace, love, and neither of us knew how to balance a checkbook." He chuckled. "Got lucky the second time. You will too."

Spike stalked away with a curt nod, mumbling to himself. "There won't be a second time. Won't be anymore time at all if I don't get myself sorted." He paid for the bottles, pounding a wad of cash down and waiting for his change. Off to the parks and the bars and the backstreets he supposed. Oh, he loved the hunt, loved the stalking, and the baiting, and the kill. What he didn't like was having a new nest every night. He'd gotten soft, he admitted it. Not his fault that humans had these curious habits of checking up on each other when they didn't turn up to work or appointments or whatever. Never could be sure he wouldn't be discovered, and though he liked to gamble, he preferred better odds as a rule. So now he'd always be on the move. He'd learn to like it, he supposed. Or he'd dust. Without Drusilla, dusting often seemed the most preferable option.

"Sir! Sir! You dropped this." The cashier was following him from the store.

"Not mine." Spike didn't have any official-looking typed up papers. Great perk of being a vamp. You didn't get annoying mail or fill out annoying forms. You got asked for ID and if you didn't have a fake handy- you just bit the jerk asking the questions.

"It came out of your wallet." The paper was pushed into his hand before he could protest further.

"Not my wallet, last night's main course's wallet." Spike unfolded the paper and considered the information he saw.

"Public Housing Authority."

"Finally! How many computers had to die to make that automated menu rubbish?"

"What is the nature of your call, Sir?" The voice was dour and humorless.

Spike strongly suspected he was talking to a human hybrid, probably sired by the electronic voice and one of the blokes from the DMV. "I've gotten this notice to vacate my flat, an' I'm very upset! Distraught." He laid it on thick, a devilish giggle waiting to burst out. Fancy him, manipulating the system. Oh God. He'd sunk so low, playing human games...

"Yes, Sir. What's your address?"

"Uh..." Spike flipped the paper about until he saw it on the front. "226 Buena Park."

""You're not arrears in your rent-"

"Well, that's good to know." He muttered. He spoke into the battered handset in his temporary apartment. The last owner was now out back in the dumpster, and it was just him, a few slugs of Jack Daniel's wannabe, and a few persistent rodents. "So why'm I gettin' the shove?"

"It's not just you, Sir." The voice said in a patient, plodding tone. "Several buildings did not pass the annual inspections done in Los Angeles County. The housing on Buena Park will need to be brought up to code in wiring and septic before you can move back in."

"Well- blimey! How long does that take?"

"Depends on your landlord, Sir."

"Well, in the meantime, what do I do? Just found this letter, an' according to it I've got three days to get out or you'll chuck me out!"

"You take the letter to the nearest Housing Authority office and you apply for one of the rent controlled properties. There's a very long list, but because the city is the one causing your temporary displacement-"

"Fancy way of sayin' makin' a fella homeless."

"-you will receive priority." The voice continued as programed. "If you cannot afford the cost of the PHA's recommended housing without assistance, you can apply to be matched with a roommate to help split costs. There is no fee to use the matching service. If they are unable to find a match, you may pay one week's rent at the current cost of your old rental property and stay there while looking for another place you can afford. I have the address of the Housing Authority office closest to you. They open tomorrow morning at 8:00. Let me give you the address."

Spike hung up with a thoughtful expression. The meals he had didn't exactly come with hefty bonuses. But he had enough to make it on his own, or keep playing his risky nightly hunting, daily nesting game. The idea of applying for a roommate was pure lunacy on a million levels. The only one that stood out to him in his sloshed state wasn't the fact that he could hardly live with a human without instantly betraying his true nature. No, it was that he abhorred the thought of living with another, any other being. It would just be a galling reminder that he should be living with his wicked night goddess, and instead he was stuck with some breathing troglodyte, at least if the tenants around here were anything to go by.

On the other hand- what if he got the place, and played it like these LA vamps, blending in with the fresh produce, so to speak? Apply for the flat, even the roommate, and presto- first month taken care of, and a free meal with purchase. If he was the one living there, signed up and all- he couldn't be disinvited. If someone came looking for the roommate, he could make excuses for awhile, then ditch if he had to. But in the best outcome, he'd get a month to clear his head, sort himself out, and figure out how to win back Dru or cast himself to the sunlight.

Well. It was worth a try. Didn't have anything better to do with his life now, anyway. He laid back on the couch, drinking the last of his amber colored meal. He hadn't bothered to hunt. He was weak, and he was disoriented, and he didn't care. If the windows hadn't already been papered over, he'd have slept right there in the sun. He distracted himself for a few hours at a time, forced himself to think, plot, plan. It was all he'd done for so long, especially since Dru got sick and depended on him totally. Now no one and nothing relied on him. The distraction always wore off, and dawn always found him in the same positions- sobbing himself to sleep or drunk enough not to remember the reasons he should be crying.

"Got this form to fill out some other form. Probably then I'll win a grand prize and get yet one more piece of paper, yeah?" Spike was the last customer in the Public Housing Authority's Southern Central Los Angeles Housing Center. He flipped the notice of eviction in front of the tired looking woman on the other side of the bullet proof glass partition.

"226 Buena Park. I wish they'd space these closings out." She sighed. "There's not a lot we can do at this point. You're gonna have to do the shared rental space or go outside our listings."

"I might be interested in sharing. How's it work?" Spike asked nonchalantly.

"Do you have a family? Children?"

"Separated." Spike's voice suddenly lost its ebullient edge and turned hoarse. "This is a bad idea. I got-"

"Do you have a lot of furniture?"

"Skint, Ducks. No furniture. Nothing. Oh, except I could probably pay what you're asking, not flat broke. Not yet."

Weary, hopeless eyes, smart ass front. Tough guy. Look at the clothes, the shifty, cool face, way he carries his shoulders. Bad guy. But watch him try to back away, and he just looks like he doesn't give a damn if he lives or dies. Maybe he doesn't have anything left to loose. Sometimes those people were the most grateful. "Take this form. You have to be out in two days, so come back here by then to check. If you're not matched, we can refer you to shelters, temporary-"

"I don't need a shelter." He snatched the roommate application form. "If I don't get matched, I don't get matched. Might as well try though, it'd be a damn sight more convenient than bursting into flames." He stalked off to the corner table and began scribbling away. The clerk stared after him with worried eyes, but he didn't care.

Name: William William what? I'm not William Pratt. Oh, I'm a prat, but not going to use that name and shame my mother. Don't want to tip my hand to anyone where I am either. The master vampire, the Slayer of Slayers, mateless and homeless and minionless... Something nice and anonymous. William Smith. Or Jones. Oh Mum would hate that, too. Smythe, not Smith.

Name: William Smythe.

Contact Information: None

Age: 28 Well, at least according to the eyes.

Gender: Male

Roommate Gender Preference: Hmm. Women are softer, usually easier to get a good grip on, bite down better, but men you can get more blood out of, and the way things've been going...But that's not always the case. I could get a scrawny little bloke or one of those amazonian women. Just be neutral. It's just a meal. No, it's a meal and a place to kip for a month or 'til the landlord asks too many questions. He wrote "No preference."

Age range: 18-40. Nothing too old. Forty is pushing it, but beggars can't be choosers. Veal person myself. And Dru- Dru always used to say the wrinklies got stuck in her teeth. Oh God, Princess. I brought you so many beautiful young belles and you were the most beautiful of all. And did you care? No, you prattled on about what's not true, me and some girl I did one deal with, screamin' at me while you pine for your "dear daddy". I should've been screamin' at you, but you never did understand why it was wrong. He taught you to open your legs and you've always been a fast learner, my sweet, smart, black angel. Thought after a century I might've taught you to keep your heart just for me. But no.

Spike grunted away the emotion threatening to make him bash the tables against the walls or just start weeping and cursing. He refocused on the application.

Do you smoke/ do you mind if your roommate smokes?: I do and I don't care.

What are you looking for in a roommate?: Food, but I can't say that. A patsy, but I can't say that either.

What are you looking for in a roommate?: Someone to pay half the expenses. Not looking for a friend, just a roommate. A simple, he paused his pen and smirked to himself- simple business arrangement.

Describe yourself: I work nights. I like my space.I'm a people person- but don't like to get too involved in anyone's life. No point when you just kill 'em anyway.

Spike read it over. I sound nice and vague, I don't stand out. Impersonal.

He smiled silently and sealed it. Well, good. I'm not a person. He tossed it on the clerk's desk and left, going to begin his prowl now that dusk had settled.

"Jane? These people have four kids."

"Put them in a two bedroom."

"We can't do that."

"We have to do that."

"Okay. On your head be it if they complain about overcrowding."

"On your head be it if those kids have to be out on the street in a day. Do you know what kind of freaks are out there?"

"Alright, Alright, St. Jane of the PHA. That's the last family with kids. All the seniors, too."

"Singles and marrieds?"

"I'll take marrieds and partners, you take singles."

"Good." Jane secretly hoped for that assignment. She didn't usually get too involved in the long lines of people she saw each day, but that one girl had stood out to her. She'd also been in at the beginning of the week, she was almost on the top of the stack now. Anne something. She'd seen it on her name tag. She guessed the girl had come straight from work.

Jane had to do this sort of thing at least once a year, and she was quick at it. She sorted men who only wanted to room with men, women who only wanted to room with women, and then was left with a very small pile, only four, of people who weren't too picky about that.

"No smokers- documented case of asthma." She pushed a Mr. Christopher Ogobu to one side. "And Ms. Brandy Linwood, who's putting herself through art college and wants to 'live life, experience poverty and get away from materialism, and meet real people', mm mm mmm. Anne would eat you alive." Jane chuckled to herself.

That left Ms. Smith and Mr. Smythe. Loners or at least loner enough not to drive each other nuts, and Smith didn't mind smokers. Oh, both of them seem to like the night time. That's close enough for government work.

Jane stapled the applications of Mr. William Smythe and Ms. Anne Smith together. "There. Looks like we have a match."

To Be Continued...