AND I actually have fic!! A nice long chapter (just under 2,000 words) of If I Can’t Dance. This is for the awesome and talented electricalgwen’s birthday!! :D
Title: If I Can’t Dance
Word Count: 1,905
Disclaimer: Sadly not mine, Joss own them.
Summary: Set in season 5 and basically follows canon, although there will be twists and changes along the way. This chapter takes place during "Out of My Mind" (and there's two lines from the episode in the chapter).
Twenty paces from his car to the apartment building. A good distance. Short enough for outrunning a vampire or, as Xander discovered last month, two Hicoparch demons who, based on their gestures, seemed less intent on killing him than on something from the reproductive unit in Health Class. Of course, the easy escape of twenty paces isn’t so easy when the vampire is blocking the door.
A/N: Written for the lynnevitational, thanks to lynnenne for hosting this shindig!
Thanks go out to the awesome savoytruffle and spookymonkey for their invaluable pre-reading, betaing and support. Any mistakes are mine (and you're always welcome to point out my mistakes).
All chapters can be found in tags here or in memories here.
If I Can’t Dance
Twenty paces from his car to the apartment building. A good distance. Short enough for outrunning a vampire or, as Xander discovered last month, two Hicoparch demons who, based on their gestures, seemed less intent on killing him than on something from the reproductive unit in Health Class.
Of course, the easy escape of twenty paces isn’t so easy when the vampire is blocking the door.
Fortunately this vampire doesn’t want to kill Xander… or can’t at least, so that’s a good thing. Sorta. Spike may be all too ubiquitous these days, but his new pseudo-helpfulness only makes him more annoying.
Xander takes a moment to be impressed that he actually retained some smart-sounding vocabulary. Not that it matters, but it’s better than figuring out what Spike wants or why he’s here.
Xander waves the cigarette smoke out of his face and decides to fold. It’s been a long day. “Let’s skip me asking, you lying, and me not buying it and move right on to the truth.”
“Would I lie?” Spike manages to look offended.
“Okay I would, but only because I respect you, mate.”
Spike demonstrates that respect by flicking cigarette ash on Xander’s shoe.
Xander snorts. “Oh, yeah, I’m sure you’d do Aretha proud. Anyway, back to the truth thing: why’re you outside my building?”
Spike pouts like it hurts him not to tell his tall tale. Xander just crosses his arms. Spike avoids eye contact. “Fine. Harmony’s about. I’ve heard she’s looking for me, thought I’d hang here for a bit.”
Xander’s lips quirk. Spike’s hiding from Harmony? That has to be the lamest story ever. “What? You don’t want to rekindle the romance? But yours was an epic love!” Spike looks like he wants to punch someone, possibly Xander. He sends a quick thanks to the makers of the chip, even if they were kinda psycho.
Spike hasn’t moved from in front of the door.
“Alright,” he sighs. “But only for an hour and no drinking my beer.”
Yet, an hour later, when Spike’s still sprawled out on the sofa and swigging from Xander’s beer, Xander remains calm. It’s hard to get too riled up over the inevitable.
And he’s had enough beer to happily ride his new mellow wave.
“All I’m saying’s that she should give him a chance.” Spike slams the remote down to emphasize the same point he’s been making for the last ten minutes.
“But you’re totally overlooking the whole ‘soulmates’ thing,” Xander says. “Never gonna happen.”
Apparently half an hour plus three halves of a beer make Xander passionate about teen soaps.
Spike’s look can only be described as ‘contemptuous.’ “That Dawson’s a prat. Joey’s too good for him. Now Pacey...” Spike takes a drink and watches the screen as the three characters in question engage in an endless argument. “But she’ll never go for him.”
His tone’s almost sorrowful, which is odd and scary. It’s definitely the beer, Xander decides. When the episode’s over, he’s cutting Spike off and kicking him out.
“Oh Pacey, you blind idiot.” Spike shakes his head at the television. “Can't you see she doesn't love you?”
When the unwanted vampire houseguest starts talking to your TV, it’s time to call it a night.
Except Spike is in mid-tirade, ranting at the blond guy – Dawson maybe? – about hair and brooding.
Okay, they’ll finish the episode. Then he’ll call it a night.
Xander grips the door handle and wills his heart to slow down. “Anya!”
He finds himself looking at her shoes – those fancy, strappy, high-heeled kind he can’t believe women can wear without tripping or collapsing after five steps. Shoes are way safer than eye contact; right now he’s digging the inanimate objects.
If only he knew what to say, which is funny because normally that’s not a problem for him. Fortunately Anya’s down with the talking.
“Is she appreciating all the hours of hard work and loud noise that went into her present?” Anya nods to the training room. “That’s some valuable shop space Giles has given up. All that wasted revenue.” She shakes her head.
“Oh yeah, the Buffster’s really digging her new digs.” Anya frowns at him. “Her new training room, I mean.” He smiles at the image of Buffy letting out her frustration on the dummy. “It’s definitely needed after the health scare with her mom and Riley.”
“Yes.” Anya nods. “Human health is so fragile. It’s surprising you all have lasted this long on the hellmouth, what with the increased dangers.”
“Uh, right.” Xander knows from experience it’s best to stop this conversation now, before it segues into scary stuff. “So, how’s the new job going?”
“Great!” She beams. “I’m excited for the store’s opening so that I can officially begin my new career as a shop girl.”
“Shop girl, that’s…” He fumbles for something witty or interesting but can only come up with, “good.”
She walks over to the cash register and runs a finger over the buttons. “I expect it will be a demanding yet fulfilling job.”
“Uh, right.” Why is it suddenly so hard to talk to Anya? It’s not like they never talked before. This is stupid, he should just be direct. He actually looks Anya in the eye. “So how are you doing since the breakup?”
“It was hard at first, especially since I’m used to causing the pain not receiving it.” Xander molds his face into an expression he hopes looks understanding and not freaked out. “But then I found all these helpful guides for single gals like myself. Did you know there’s an entire section of magazines devoted to this in the supermarket?”
“Uh, you mean like Cosmo?”
“Yes. I like that one, all their information is done by numbers so I just need to follow the steps, and I’m set!” Anya reaches under the counter and whips out a glossy Cosmopolitan with Alyssa Milano on the cover. She flips a couple of pages and spins it around so Xander can see the article’s title Dating Smarts You Must Have. “If only I had read this before my date with Bernie last night.”
Xander’s letting date and Bernie sink in as Anya points to number four: You get to be superficial. If he's wearing a fanny pack or showing off butt cleavage, feign an emergency and bail. (Hint: Say "It's a woman thing." He won't ask for details.)
“Now Bernie didn’t have a fanny pack – or at least I don’t think so, I’m not exactly sure what that is – nor did he have this cleavage they speak of. But he was very boring. He kept talking about books and politics. Plus he wouldn’t dance.”
“That sucks.” Xander realizes that he now seems to have moved from ex-boyfriend to friend-Anya-can-talk-about-boys-with. Sadly this is a role he has years of experience in.
“I know! If I had known I could just leave, I would have. Why waste my time on some loser?”
“That’s the attitude!” Xander knows when to encourage.
Anya smiles. “So, have you been on any dates? It’s important to get out there and meet people, you know.”
“Not so much with the dating and meeting people. More with the work and patrolling.”
“That’s not very smart, Xander. This society is structured around couples; you need to cash in on that. Also, you don’t want to end up sitting at home, eating microwave dinners and watching reruns of that show you like, Star Trekking or something.” It’s eerie how well that describes his evenings in. “You need to get proactive.”
Xander nods. It seems like the best response.
“You don’t want to die alone,” Anya says. “And considering Sunnydale’s high mortality rate, death could come sooner than you think.”
Xander suspects that Anya would not consider patrolling with Spike to be an effective step towards avoiding the dreaded dying alone scenario.
Although if he were to die now, he wouldn’t technically be alone, he’d be with Spike.
And that’s probably not the most comforting thought.
Oh well, tonight’s not about him anyway. It’s Riley who’s AWOL and ailing, and about to die alone if they don’t find him in time.
When Xander voices this concern, Spike doesn’t quite seem to share it. “Oh, dear, is the enormous hall monitor sick? Tell me, is he gonna die?”
“Why exactly did you agree to our fun ‘search for Riley at the docks’ excursion anyway?” Xander asks. He decides not to share his other question, Why did I suggest Spike us help find Riley?
“Out of the goodness of my unbeating heart, of course.” Spike holds up the cash Xander’s given him. “And because I believe in the American way.”
“You and Anya could form a club: Ex-demons for Capitalism.”
“Hey!” Spike glares at Xander. “Still a demon here.”
“Oh right.” It is hard to remember sometimes, especially since Spike agreed to help the minute Xander asked – and hardly even complained about it either.
“’M not a fluffy bunny.” Spike lights up his second cigarette in ten minutes, because everyone knows that fluffy bunnies don’t smoke.
“Some people find bunnies terrifying, you know.” Xander hides his smile by peering along an empty dock he’s already checked.
Spike sighs. “You wouldn’t say that if I didn’t have this lousy chip in my head.”
“Don’t suppose this Doc you’ve gotten for Bland Boy could do a quick chip-ectomy.” Spike sits down on a crate and examines his cigarette.
Xander joins him, in the sitting not the cigarette gazing. He draws the line there. “Oh yeah, I’m sure if you just explain how you need to kill and hurt people again, he’ll totally be up for helping you.”
“That’s not… okay, I do miss the violence.” Spike has a faraway look on his face like he’s remembering his favorite Christmas past, and it might be cute if Xander could make himself believe the tidings were of comfort and joy. Terror and blood are probably more like it, though. Spike shakes his head and points his cigarette at Xander. “But this is about wanting that bloody leash out of my head. Want to be in control again.”
For the second time in twenty-four hours, Xander decides that nodding is the best response.
An odd and unexpected sympathy for the still-evil-but-can’t-practice-it demon who’s sitting beside him gets the better of Xander and he finds himself patting Spike’s knee.
To Xander’s surprise, Spike doesn’t shove him away or yell at him. He just looks at Xander for what feels like half an hour but is probably half a second.
It’s like they’re having a moment or something.
Except Spike and Xander don’t have moments.
So Xander does what he does best: ruins the (not a) moment. “Well, you know what they say, ‘Can’t always get what you want.’”
Spike snorts and shifts away. “The Stones: the philosophers of the twentieth century.”
“You know it’s the twenty-first century now, right?” Xander stands up and stretches.
“Not when the Stones wrote it, dolt.”
“Whatever.” Xander shoots a grin at Spike who’s fallen in step beside him. “Old guy.”
“If I didn’t have the chip…”
“Yeah, yeah. I’m quaking here.”
Spike just shakes his head.
Xander feels oddly light, like he’s just jumped really high on a trampoline. He slings an arm around Spike’s shoulder. “C’mon, lets see if the rest of the gang got luckier than we did.”