"Look," Spike said. "I'll sit here quietly. Make like a wee little church mouse. You won't even know I'm here. Giles said that it shouldn't last more than a day or so." Spike found something fascinating to look at under his thumbnail. "Probably best if you don't, ah, look at me too much, though. That seems to spark it off."
Xander very deliberately set down his beer. "Spark what off?"
Spike shifted in his seat. "Nothing. No big deal. Nothing I won't get over in a hundred years or so."
"Funny thing, it's not actually you I'm concerned about. What's the spell?"
"It's nothing. Bit of an embarrassment actually. Dawn got into the grownup books in the Magic Box and read something out loud that she shouldn't have. Good thing she got the pronunciation wrong or I'd really be up shit creek."
Xander grudgingly accepted the possibility of this. Giles really should have worked out a better security system for keeping the dangerous books away from prying eyes by now. Thinking about it, a stepladder wasn't really the latest thing in state-of-the-art security systems.
"Spike. Last time I'm asking. What's the spell?"
Spike studiously avoided his gaze.
"If you don't tell me by the time I count to five, I'm calling Giles," Xander said. "Or possibly just manhandling you out the door. I haven't decided yet." He stood up, but Spike refused to look at him. "One." He crossed the room and picked up the phone. "Two."
"Xander, you're being childish."
"Now you're just being a git."
"Four." Xander started to dial Giles' number. Spell-related emergencies totally excused middle-of-the-night phone calls, even if he wasn't entirely sure that Giles would share his definition of 'emergency'. "Fi--"
Faster than he could even begin to process, Spike had grabbed the phone out of his hand and slammed it back in the cradle. Xander tried to jump out of Spike's personal space, but only succeeded in colliding with the wall behind him. Rubbing furiously at the bump on the back of his head, he glared at Spike, who was glaring right back at him.
"I told you," Spike said. "It's no big deal."
"Yeah? Tell that to my head," Xander said, and gave the bump a last rub for good measure.
"I thought that's what I was doing, you stupid prat."
"Spike, what does the spell do?"
"None of your business," Spike said, poking one finger very solidly in the middle of Xander's chest. "So just keep your nose out and let me hide out here 'til it goes away, there's a good boy."
The contact pushed Xander over the edge into real anger. "No. What's the spell for?"
The finger poked again. "Nothing."
Xander grabbed Spike's finger in his fist, and pulled it to one side. Spike just used his other hand and resumed poking. So Xander grabbed that one, too, leaving them face-to-face, well within easy snarling distance.
Why did Spike have to be so unendingly infuriating, Xander wondered, for what felt like the millionth time. Surely it wasn't natural for one person to have such an endless capacity for irritating others.
Xander really was too tired for this level of bullshit. He felt hot and kind of achy all over. Maybe he was coming down with something. No doubt that was all Spike's fault too. Stupid vampire with his stupid vampire cooties. Although, Xander allowed, he had been working a lot of extra shifts recently to save up for that new cable package, and he'd long thought that delivering pizza to people he used to go to school with was slowly sucking his will to live out through his ears. Maybe that was it. Or, he thought with a sudden touch of panic, maybe this was the spell manifesting itself. Xander swore to himself that if it turned out to be another magical butt-monkey interlude then he was really, really going to stake Spike this time. Just on principle.