Time for the Little Things


Xander sighed as he moved restlessly through the too quiet house. It was amazing what you could get used to, and Xander was now used to the hustle and barely controlled chaos of too many people living in one house. Sometimes, he felt like he was living one of his childhood fantasies where he was one among many children, living in a loving family.

He snorted. Other times it more closely resembled some of his nightmares. Not a day went by that at least one someone wasn't bickering with another someone. Sometimes, it was a whole bunch of someones. Those were the days he wished he could sneak away and go back to his lonely apartment and hide -- just for a while mind you. Even at his worst, he didn't want out completely. He just wanted time to relax, to think, to figure out where his life was headed -- assuming he lived through this latest 'end of the world' gig.

But, now, in the dead of night, the lights out, Xander was restless, almost wishing for even the more chaotic days. He didn't want to think right now. His latest foray into the world of dating had been an unmitigated disaster, unsurpassed by any that had come before. Of course, his little panic/relieved-beyond-words adrenaline rush that had resulted in the ultimate embarrassment of his 'Gay me up, Willow', wasn't helping matters.

Let's gay? he asked himself with a mental groan of disbelief. How could he say something like that? It was too much. He had to get out. Meandering to the back door, Xander quietly opened it. He didn't want to wake anyone; he just couldn't stay inside one second longer. It was becoming stifling.

As soon as he was out on the covered porch, he breathed a sigh of relief, enjoying the cool, crisp night air. He walked to the porch half-wall, and leaning on it, stared out into the night. Not looking at anything in particular really, he was simply . . . looking. Maybe the black anonymity of the night could help him soothe his frazzled nerves.

Then again, maybe not, he thought sourly when a slight movement and a slowly exhaled breath alerted him to the fact that he wasn't alone. He shifted slightly. Better safe than sorry, he thought, though he was pretty sure who it was. He turned his head. "Spike," he acknowledged.

He got a short nod in return, then Spike went back to his own staring, the red cherry of his cigarette glowing each time the vampire took a drag. Xander shook his head, and turned away. Unlike the pre-soul Spike, this Spike was usually quiet, so Xander didn't figure it mattered much that he was out here too. It wasn't like the vampire was likely to strike up a conversation with him.

"So," Spike said quietly, "were you serious?"

Xander blinked, turning back around to look at Spike in confusion. He leaned back against the railing and folded his arms across his chest. "Huh?"

"Earlier," Spike explained. "Were you serious -- what you said to Willow?"

Oh . My . God! But then, Buffy's smart-ass comment flashed through his mind and he couldn't help but laugh, the corners of his mouth turning up into a rueful grin. "That better not be an offer, cuz, that would kind of defeat the purpose."

Spike let out a quiet bark of laughter that was half snort, half chuckle. "Point."

Xander shook his head, his brain not really processing the idea that he was having *this* conversation with Spike -- of all people.

"You know, maybe you should just go with it."

"What?!" Xander exclaimed, staring at Spike incredulously. He winced a moment later, suddenly remembering all the sleeping women in the house.

"Not me, you git," Spike smirked. "I mean, not all demons are evil, you know."

"I so don't think so, bleach-boy."

Spike shook his head, his smirk fading into a tightly lipped frown. "Never pictured you as a bigot, Xander; thought you were better than that."

Gaping at Spike, his jaw hanging open loosely, Xander scrambled to process the vampire's accusation. He knew not all demons were evil. He'd even met a couple, Clem for one, and some of Anya's demon friends. But, while he could accept that in his head, his heart still screamed demon equals evil equals baaaad.

His expression twisted, the sudden revelation painful. He'd never thought of himself that way. Before Spike's eye-opening words, he'd always related the word bigot to the idiots who cared what tint a person's -- a human's -- skin happened to be, and he'd never cared one whit about that kind of thing..

"Truth stings a bit, doesn't it," Spike said softly, understanding, and was that sympathy Xander heard in the vampire's voice?

Absently nodding, Xander turned back around to stare out into the yard. The peace he'd come out here to find was as elusive as ever. It, in fact, seemed even further away. After several minutes of companionable silence, Xander sighed.

"I never saw myself that way. I always felt a bit superior to those idiots who couldn't look beyond skin color." Xander lapsed back into silence, then snorted, shaking his head. "Guess I can't feel that way now, can I?" he said bitterly.

A heavy sigh from Spike had Xander turning around and cocking his head questioningly.

"Ha-Xander, you've got more reason than most gits for it. Most of the demons you've met have tended to fuck up your life."

"Or kill me," Xander retorted, staring pointedly.

"Or kill you," Spike admitted. "Kind of makes it difficult to look beyond species."

"Shouldn't matter."

Spike snorted. "Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has their own bigotries -- some people's are small, some are big. It isn't something that's pretty or make a person proud to think of, but that doesn't make it any less true. The question is, now that you recognize it in yourself, what are you going to do about it?"

"Do about it?" Xander parroted, not really sure how to take a 'wise Spike'. It was beyond creepy.

"Yeah," Spike replied, rolling his eyes, "do about it. As in, what are you going to do to change what you don't like about yourself?"

Xander shrugged. "I don't know, Spike. That's why I came out here in the first place -- you just gave me *more* to not like."

"Irony, thy name is Xander," Spike misquoted quietly.

"No," Xander denied, "Unlucky is named after me. You're irony."

"How do you figure that?"

"Irony number one:" Xander began, holding up one finger. "You're a vampire whose sire gets cursed with a soul. You hate him because of it. Said sire falls in love with a slayer and loses his soul because of that. He gets it back eventually, but that's another story altogether. You -- eventually -- fall for the same slayer, and go out and purposely get yourself a soul because of it.

"Irony number two:" Xander continued, bringing up a second finger. "In the middle of the rampant irony of irony number one, you get chipped, and end up coming to the very slayer you tried to kill -- for help."

"That wasn't bloody easy, I'll have you know."

"I bet," Xander retorted in wholehearted agreement. It would be like him going to Angel for help. So not happening in any reality he could foresee. Xander held up a third finger, grinning as he swooped in for the kill -- metaphorically. "Irony number three: After you've decided you need a sparkling new soul to brighten your existence, out comes the chip -- when it can't possibly do you any good anymore."

"Sounds like a bloody badly written soap opera when you put it that way," Spike complained.

Xander laughed. He couldn't help it. It was all he could do to keep his snickering quiet enough not to disturb the entire household -- not to mention the neighbors. Tears streaming down his face, Xander finally managed to get his amusement under control -- though the sour look on Spike's face almost made him relapse. "Personally, I'd say it pretty much *defines* irony."

"Fine," Spike muttered. "You win that one. My life's one fucking big ironic hell hole."

"Oh, no, I wouldn't say that," Xander instantly contradicted. He really didn't believe that. As much as he hated Spike -- Do I? -- he well knew that Spike had a chance to see the world from an entirely new perspective. That wasn't a chance given many people, and he told Spike as much.

"I'd like to see you try and appreciate it!" Spike snapped. "Bleedin' soul isn't doing me any good, now is it?"

"No, thank you!" Xander exclaimed. "I've got enough troubles of my own, thank you very much." He sighed, stepping closer to the outraged vampire. "Besides, the worst of the soul thrown in with a demon thing will pass. You know it will. Then, that's when you'll be lucky."

"Oh, right! And you'd know that, how? Oh, that's right, cuz the only other vampire with a soul has done so bloody well getting past this shit!"

Xander rolled his eyes. As smart as Spike was, he could be so stupid sometimes. "Can't you see the fact that you're already farther along than Angel?"

"How do you figure that? He's not bloody insane half the time."

"Yeah, well, that's debatable, if you want my opinion."

Spike snorted.

Xander tilted his head to the side as he gazed thoughtfully at Spike. "Besides, you're already lucky you have a soul."

"Oh, and why's that?"

"If you didn't, you'd be dust -- either by stake or by brain fry."

Spike's eyes widened. "Got a good point there."

"What was Angel doing less than a year after he got unwillingly introduced to his soul?" Xander asked, returning to his original thought.

Spike blinked at him a moment before replying. "'s far as I know he was hanging out in alleys and feeding on bloody rats."

"Exactly; and how many decades did it take before he started interacting with people again?"

Spike looked down, mumbling so quietly, Xander almost couldn't make out what the vampire said.

"I had help. He didn't."

"Yeah, well, I've always known friends were the key to survival. Learned that life's lesson very early on."

Spike's head jerked up in surprise. "Friends?"

Xander shrugged sheepishly and grinned crookedly. "Grudging friends in my case, I admit, but I can't really call you an enemy anymore, can I?"

"No, I suppose not," Spike agreed, "though I didn't think you'd think that."

He shrugged again, but this time, his grin was anything but sheepish. "Just call you my pet project," he said as he strolled toward the door.


Biting his lip to keep from laughing out loud, Xander tossed a look over his shoulder. "Gotta work out my bad feelings about not-so-evil demons, don't I? Since you're the only demon left in Sunnydale that I actually know, you're the one I get to practice on."

So saying, he left a slack-jawed Spike out on the porch and sauntered back into the house. Picturing the many ways he could flummox Spike -- call it payback or call it the beginnings of friendship -- Xander was now feeling much better about himself and his life.

The End