"Shift over, pizza boy," Spike said, kicking Xander's feet. "The sofa may be ugly, but it's more comfortable than the Watcher's other chairs. Bloody torture devices they are, and not in a good way."
"You could always go back in the bathtub," said Xander.
"Over my dead body," Giles said, not looking up from his book. "And that's not a request, Spike."
"Come on. Push over," said Spike, nudging Xander's feet again.
Sighing, Xander slid sideways, and Spike dropped heavily onto the middle cushion.
"Watch it," said Xander. "It's hard enough to read these books without you making the couch bounce around."
"That's because you're trying to balance a dictionary on your other knee."
"Dictionary? But his book's in English," Willow said from the other side of Spike.
"Your point?" Spike smirked and then grunted when Xander elbowed him in the ribs.
"Is there a reason you're here?" Xander asked.
"Watcher asked me all nice-like to have a look at some demon codex, didn't he? Said I could be a help tracking down the whatsit that ruined the Slayer's 'do last night. Unlike you."
"I'm a he-," Xander began.
"It didn't ruin my hair," Buffy said from across the room. She patted her new wispy hairstyle self-consciously. "I wanted to cut it short anyway."
"I'm a -"
"It looks great, Buff," Willow said. She gave her friend an encouraging smile.
"Thanks. I'm still getting used to it, but -"
"And I'm a help!" Xander said more loudly.
"Of course you are, Xander," said Buffy. "I mean, we never would have found that vamp lair last week if you hadn't tripped over the -"
"You have taken over my flat to do research, not to have a nice chat," Giles said. "If you would please turn your attention to the books in front of you, we might be able to figure out what this demon is, kill it, and all get to bed at a decent hour for a change."
"Funny you being so excited to get to bed when you've got nothing to look forward to when you get there," Spike said.
"Like you're one to talk," Xander said. "I seem to recall you dating Harmony. Being alone seems like a way better choice."
"That's only because you can't get a date," said Spike.
"Hey, I get hit on all the time, pal."
"No, you wanker, you get hit all the time, not hit on. Those demons aren't after you for your body. Well, maybe for dinner..."
"Actually, Xander is a demon magnet," Buffy said.
"That's right," said Willow. "He has a long history of attracting -"
"That's enough!" Giles slammed his book closed. "Would you kindly keep the conversation on the topic of the demon that we're actually looking for?"
Spike flipped to the next page of the book he was ostensibly reading and nudged Xander with his elbow.
"See? You got us in trouble because you wanted to brag about your sex life," he whispered loudly. "If I were you, mate, I wouldn't want to talk about it at all."
"Again, I point to the big skanky ho that is Harmony," Xander whispered back.
"Why do you think I dated her? Sure wasn't for her conversation. Have you seen her..." His hands rose to chest-level about a foot away from his body. He made grabbing motions.
"God, Spike!" Buffy said. "That's disgusting!"
"You're just jealous, Slayer, because you can't fill up a -"
"Spike, have you read even one word of that book?" Giles asked, pinning Buffy to her seat with a stern glare.
"Xander keeps distracting me," he said.
"Hey! I was just -"
"I've heard enough out of both of you. I think that Willow, Buffy, and I can handle the research for tonight. Why don't you go argue elsewhere?" Giles said.
"But, I didn't do -" Xander began.
"Come on, Harris. We know when we're not wanted," Spike said. He took Xander's book out of his hands and put it on the coffee table. He placed his own codex on top of it.
"But, I -"
"We can take care of it," Buffy said to Xander. "You look beat, anyway. Go have an early night."
"We'll have lunch tomorrow, okay?" Willow said.
Xander nodded and followed Spike to the door.
"But you'll call if you need me, right?" Xander asked.
"What - so you can act as a punching bag and keep the demons occupied until the Slayer can kick their asses?" Spike said, pulling on his duster.
"Like clutching your head in pain at them is such a help."
"Hey, I can hit demons, which is a lot more than you can bloody -"
"Good night to you both," said Giles firmly.
Xander's shoulders slumped, and he waved to his friends before ushering Spike out of the door.
They walked in silence until they were down the block, and then Xander took a deep breath.
"God, I thought we'd never get thrown out," he said. "Giles must be getting used to us bickering."
"Or maybe you're losing your touch," said Spike.
"Me? I'm losing my touch? What about you?"
"Not bloody likely. Over the years, I've honed my verbal attacks to a fine art."
"You insulted Buffy's hair."
"Looks stupid, doesn't it? And that wasn't part of the actual bickering; it was just an observation."
"That's not the point."
"No, the point is that we're finally free from Scooby influence for the night." Spike sidled closer to Xander and let their arms brush together. "Just you and me, all alone, with hours ahead of us with nothing to do. Whatever shall we do to fill the time?"
"Well, since you think that my insults are slipping, maybe I should go to the library and bone up on them."
Spike smirked and ran a hand down his stomach.
"I'll give you a bone that's u-" His sentence was cut off by Xander thwacking him on the shoulder. "Ow!"
"And you say I've lost my edge. That's probably the weakest comeback ever."
"I don't like to sink to innuendo, but it was just too good to pass up."
"Who are you kidding? You love innuendo. You were hoping I'd jump on it."
"Any time you're ready, pet." Spike curled his tongue behind his teeth and smirked.
"That's not what I meant."
"Come on, Xan. We were there for hours, and I couldn't touch you. We've got to make up for the lost time."
"It was less than an hour... and I seem to remember quite a few elbow jabs and kicks in there. That's touching," said Xander.
"Not how I wanted to touch you. It was bloody torture having to watch the Slayer primp and simper about her new boyfriend while I can't even touch your knee without getting staked. Not that it was your knee I was interested in..."
"Don't sulk. We're almost home."
Spike's eyes lit up.
"And then what?" he asked.
"Oh, you know, the usual stuff when we manage to annoy Giles into giving us a free night."
"Catching up on laundry, watch a movie on TV, maybe vacuum," said Xander. His grin was smothered by Spike's lips as the vampire grabbed him and kissed him soundly.
"I have a much better idea," Spike said in a low growl.
"What's that?" Xander asked, leaning his forehead against Spike's.
"I rip off all of your clothes, throw you on the bed, and shag you through the mattress until sunrise."
"Hmm." Xander pretended to think about the suggestion. "It has its possibilities, but..."
"But what?" Spike's growl was louder this time.
"How about I get to shag you through the mattress?" Xander grinned.
Spike threw his hands up in the air and rolled his eyes.
"Why are you always so bloody difficult?"
"I thought you liked that about me."
"I'll show you what I like about you when we get home," said Spike, grabbing Xander's hand and tugging him down the sidewalk.
"Or maybe I'll show you."
"Would you stop arguing?"
"Do you really want me to?" Xander asked, frowning slightly.
Spike glanced at him out of the corner of his eyes and sighed.
"No, probably not," he admitted.
"Good, 'cause it's more fun this way."
"Can't disagree with that," said Spike, leading Xander into the basement.
"Bet you could if you tried."
Spike snorted and reached for him.
"Shut up and kiss me, you git."
"What if I don't - mmpf!" By the time Spike let him pull back from the kiss far enough to breathe, Xander had lost his desire to argue.