The Dance
( A Lopsided Tango In Seven Movements)

by
Mad Poetess



Part One: Buffy


"Are you sure Willow said Spike was dancing naked on the roof of the Bronze?" Buffy asked. "Maybe she said 'Pike' ?"

"Well, it was hard to hear, given the general hooting, hollering, and yelling of phone numbers in the background," Xander replied. "But I doubt your ex-boyfriend would pop over to Sunnydale just to get drunk and strip on the roof of the local teen pick-up joint."

"He might. You never know." But she couldn't even manage to sound like she believed herself. "Arrgh! Why do I have to be the only Slayer in the world with a vampire to babysit? A non compos mentos one?"

"Spike lacks Freshmaker?" Xander faked shock badly. "I'll just nip on over and give him some. The blood breath, after all..."

"You just wanna see him naked."

"Who, me? "

"Well, he's strong, and mysterious and sort of compact but well-muscled..."

"Shut up!"

"It's understandable..."

"Shut up!"









Part Two: Xander


"Wish there were still two of me -- one to hold your sorry ass upright while you barf, one to stand by the road and laugh." If it weren't raining, that is. Xander pulled the blanket tighter around Spike, in a vain effort to keep it clean, and Spike somewhat dry. The vamp was out of his manic naked dancing stage, and now firmly in the grip of the 'yak on Xander's car seat if I don't stop' stage. "What the hell did you eat ?"

"Dunno. Had onions in it." Spike retched violently, then stood up, leaning against the side of the car. "Much better," he said after a minute.

"For some." Xander shuddered.

"Wimp."

"Drunk."

"Can't argue with you there." Spike fumbled inside his blanket with one hand. Xander blinked, then abruptly closed his eyes when it fell open.

"What're you doing?"

"Lookin' for my smokes."

"You're naked under there, you idiot."

Pause... "Knock knock, who's there, all Spike's bits, completely bare. So I am. Looked, did ya?"

Xander gritted his teeth. "The whole frickin' town looked, Spike. Anyway, I wouldn't let you smoke even if you could find 'em. You'd explode from all the beer on your breath."

"Aww, and here I thought you hated me."

"I do. I just don't want you splatting all over my car." Xander dared open his eyes again.

Blanket properly closed, and Spike watching him closely, swaying slightly. "Why drive downtown to sweep me off m'feet and carry me away, then, Sweet Prince?"

"Buffy told me to." Which was sort of true. She'd said 'Thank God,' after he'd volunteered.

"Oh. Yeah. Her." Spike's fingers twitched, like he really wanted that cigarette.

"That what this is about? Thought you were over her."

"I am over her. Just..." Spike shrugged, threatening to dislodge his blanket. "Sometimes, y'know. Gets to me. If I'm gonna make a fool of m'self, rather do it on purpose."

"Ah." Like getting so drunk he could pretend he didn't know he was naked. Xander pulled the passenger door open and guided the vampire inside. "Come on, Spike. Let's go home."







Part Three: Anya


"Here, drink. And don't spill this one, please." Anya handed Spike his second cup of coffee. The first had 'accidentally' ended up in the potted fern.

" S'terrible! You'd think if you'd been round as long as Ssssstonehenge, you'd at least know how to make a good cuppa coffee," Spike slurred.

"It's not supposed to be good. It's supposed to be strong, so you'll sober up and go home, and Xander and I can have sex."

"Anya..."

She turned to her husband. "What? I'm not trying to be rude. If I thought you'd have sex with Spike in the house, he'd be perfectly welcome to stay."

Xander pulled her out of the living room, towards the bedroom. Which sounded promising, but Anya knew from experience that it wouldn't be. "Honey, we can't make Spike go back to his crypt right now."

"Why not?"

"Well, he's kinda had a hard day's night..."

"That reference makes no more sense in practice than it does in antiquated pop lyrics. Have you been drinking too?"

Xander shook his head, impatiently, and Anya wondered just what she wasn't getting *this* time. "No. I mean that Spike got himself so blasted that he didn't care if the whole town saw him dancing naked on the roof of the Bronze."

"Naked? I didn't get to see him naked! Why didn't you call me?"

Xander ignored that, as he ignored many of her perfectly logical questions. "I think he's still in a pretty bad way over Buffy."

"So why do you care? I thought you hated Spike?" When Xander was quiet for a moment, she offered, "You empathize with him because you used to have a hopeless crush on Buffy too?"

Quick shake of the head, and his hands on her arms. "No. I haven't felt that way about Buffy for years, Anya. I thought you knew that."

"I do. That's why I used the phrase 'used to,' implying events in the past."

"Oh." He paused. "I guess I just don't think it would be nice to send him back to his crypt naked, in the rain. He'd probably walk back to the Bronze and look for his damn pack of wet cigarettes, wherever they fell, and catch pneumonia."

"Don't catch diseases, but it's nice to know you care." Spike stood in the doorway, still holding his cup of coffee, blanket slipped down to his hips.

"Xander! You didn't tell me he was still naked!"







Part Four: Dawn


"Ho, Young Female of the Summers Clan," Xander called, dashing up the steps and grabbing the plastic trashcan that was about to tumble out of Dawn's grasp, splattering milk cartons and deviled eggs all over the back porch. "Need some help?"

"Yeah, thanks." Dawn wrinkled her nose. "Why am I taking out the trash, I'd like to know, instead of Ms. Super-Strength?"

"Because Ms. Super-Strength traded you for doing the dishes," Buffy said from the kitchen window.

Dawn picked up the fallen lid and rolled her eyes. "Also with the super hearing..." Xander hoisted the can up with a grin, and Dawn walked along with him while he carried it out to the alley. When they were far enough away that she was sure her sister the Bat-Queen couldn't hear her, she said, "So, I heard you went downtown to look at naked Spike last night, and you liked him so much you took him home..."

Xander sputtered. "I did not... I...hey, what the heck is this thing?" He pointed to the fuzzy red doll on the very top of the trash pile.

"It' s Tickle-Me-Elmo, which you know, Lame-Avoidance-Man, since your wife got it for me. It was always creepy, but now its voicebox is broken. Just starts laughing in the middle of the night. Not to insult Anya, but no thanks. Enough spooky stuff around without possessed toys in my room. And it was ten years too young for me three years ago."

He nodded. "Anya doesn't always get things like that. But she does try."

"Anya's cool -- she's helping me with my World History, and we're going through my U.S. Government book together, kinda like she's auditing the class. And she's funny -- she got all excited when she thought disenfranchise meant kicking all the French people out of the country." She looked sideways at him. "But you're not here to talk about Anya -- you came to talk about Spike."

"No I didn-- okay, I did, but not with you."

Dawn grinned triumphantly. "I knew it. So, what, you came to ask Buffy what to do about liking him? Like she'd know. Her idea of dealing with Spike is to pretend she doesn't know he's still into her and be nice to him 'cause she feels guilty that she doesn't like him back."

Xander frowned. "I don't 'like' Spike."

"But you wanna see him naked."

"No!"

"Why not? Anya does; she said so. "

"She did not. She did?"

"Uh-huh. This morning when we were studying. She *also* said she knows you do too. I don't blame you-- I've seen him naked; he's hot."

His eyes bugged. "Dawn! You weren't at the Bronze last night--"

"I wish. I watched some of the Buffybot's home movies, though."

Xander stared, then said carefully, "Um... nothing with me and Anya in the basement of the magic shop, right?"

Dawn whapped him over the head with Tickle-Me-Elmo, which cackled maniacally. "Okay, so I know you're not gonna go with my plan, which is grab Spike and chain him up so he can be your and Anya's love-slave, and you can loan him to me on weekends."

Xander was still staring.

"What? I'm eighteen now. Hello to the real world, Old Guy."

"I'm not old. I'm...mature." He bapped her back with Elmo. "So what's your sage and thankfully-over-the-age-of-consent-so-I-don't-get-arrested-for-having-this-conversation advice? Who should I talk to, if not Buffy?"

"Um, Spike?"

"Um, no."

"Then go talk to somebody who knows him. Well."

Xander shook his head frantically. "Oh no. No, no, no, no...."

"Baby. He doesn't bite. Well, okay, he does, but..."







Part Five: Angel


"You saw Spike naked." Angel studied the man in the lobby of his hotel. Why had Xander Harris come to him, of all people? "And now you're...confused?"

"No, I'm not confused. I recognized all the parts."

"Okay, you're... well, what are you?"

Xander winced. "Question of the day. 'Married,' would be one answer. Straight, would be another. I thought."

"So..."

"So why does the thought of Spike, naked or not, sometimes make me wish I'd gone to the Prom with the Sockpuppet of Love, instead of Anya?"

"Er..."

"Don't ask. Anya dressed nicer, and Sockie wore too much lipstick." Xander sighed. "I love my wife. That's not in doubt. And Spike's..."

Angel nodded, beginning to see why Xander was here. "Annoying and evil and confusingly human at all the wrong times." Like he'd been a century ago. Half the reason that the Master wouldn't accept Angel's younger offspring into the fold -- Spike's humanity, Dru's madness. He'd expected it to be Buffy, driving up here with this question, not Xander. But the answer was the same. "Spike's... Spike."

"Yeah, saw that too. Along with most of Sunnydale." Xander put up his hand. "I know, I know. Not what you meant." He shook his head. "You know him best -- so tell me this: I can't stand the guy. So why'd I drag his drunken ass off the roof of the Bronze, throw a blanket over him and take him home so Anya could pour coffee down his throat?"

"Doing a favor for most of Sunnydale?"

Xander chuckled, then blinked, then chuckled again. "Huh. Dawn said you'd have an answer."

With that, he left. No goodbyes, just spun on his heel and walked out. Angel watched him cross the sunlit drive to his car, and wondered what sort of answer he'd given.







Part Six: Xander Redux

Anya popped a bagel out of the toaster and set it in front of him. "You want to invite Spike to move into our spare bedroom."

"Well... somebody has to keep an eye on him. He's a menace. A few nights ago he was dancing naked on the Bronze -- tomorrow, who knows?"

"Our living room? I have a list of songs picked out already. What d'you think of 'It's Raining Men' ?"

"Ahn! I'm talking about doing the rest of Sunnydale a favor. Keeping Spike off the streets and outta the pool parlors, not..."

"Boinking him? Blueberry cream cheese, or pineapple?"

"On Spike???"

"The bagel, dork; Spike's a strawberry kinda guy. Good thought, though."

Xander picked up his bagel and chewed, sans cream cheese, but not sans blush. Anya waited. He watched her wait. He swallowed. She waited.

He closed his eyes. "Fine. Excuuuuuuuuse me, if I notice. He's.... noticeable. It's not like *you* don't notice. I've noticed you... noticing." Bagel. Mouth. Makes babble stop.

"You mean when I called you 'Spike' last night? Just a slip of the tongue."

He choked. Sputtered. "You did not!"

"No, you're right. That was you."

"Was not." He hadn't called her Spike. He'd just said it in a moment of... distraction. Xander put the bagel down. Slowly. "I hate you."

"No, you don't. You love me."

"Nuh-uh." He stared at his bagel.

"Uh-huh."

"Nuh-uh times infinity."

"Pineapple or blueberry?"

"Blueberry." He slowly looked up at her. She'd painted her lips with blueberry Philly, and she was smiling. "Have I mentioned I hate you?" he asked.

"No." Anya leaned over the table, and pressed a fruit-flavored kiss to his mouth. "Yes, we can invite Spike to come live with us, M'sieur le Dork."

"I am, huh?"

She grinned. "Yes. But kisses are a better fate than wisdom. Or so I've heard."

Xander considered this, and decided the theory needed testing. So he kissed her again -- then spread cream cheese over the remains of his bagel. "So... um... how do we actually get him to say yes?"

Anya grinned. "Oh, don't worry. Dawn and I have a plan. We've been working on it for weeks."

"I hate you."






Part Seven: Xander Redux: The Men With Hats Edition


"Would somebody like to tell me why I'm going along with this again?" Xander whispered as he crouched in the bushes outside Spike's crypt. Anya stood boldly on the doorstep, about to knock, and looked at him with a combination of fondness and scorn.

"Because you just watched, "In and Out" for the eighth time in a week, and told me very coherently at 3 a.m. yesterday that you were ready to go through with asking Spike to move in with us, because your karmic mission will never be fulfilled until you've seen Spike dance naked to Macho Man."

Jeez, could she be any louder? Xander blushed. Whatever funky CD Spike was playing inside -- sounded like a woman singing, pretty voice, but not in English -- echoed out into the darkened cemetery, almost drowning out the chorus of "Macho, macho man..." in his head. So maybe it was loud enough that he'd get lucky, and Spike hadn't heard. Arrgh. 'Do not think 'Get lucky' when Anya's talking about naked Spike,' he berated himself.

"Anya," Xander stammered, "I don't even remember being awake at 3 a.m." Except then why did he have crisp, clear mental images of Spike in black jeans and a muscle-T, energetically removing said clothes to a pretty good impersonation of Kevin Kline's dance routine, while he and Anya watched and shared a bowl of popcorn?

A particularly intense dream, that was all. Except...um... why was he dreaming about Spike, naked? And why had he come straight from the construction site, still in his work clothes and hard hat, while the song bounced through his head? Oh, yeah -- the hat was for protection in case Spike threw things at them.

"Xander, you're going through stage five of denial. It's to be expected, but hurry up. I've got a casserole in the oven."

"What's stage five?"

"It's where you overcome your fears, make a perfectly intelligent decision during open and honest dialogue with your significant other who thinks the whole idea of being with you and Spike together is the best present since the thing with the batteries that you made me promise not to say its name, and much cheaper over the length of our marriage than my total gay porn rental bills would be -- I showed you the calculations, Xander -- and then you chicken out because you're a big weenie."

Xander blinked. "You made that up."

Anya rolled her eyes and tugged on his arm. "Come on, Xander. You had a good idea. Get Spike off the streets and into a place where we can keep an eye on him so he's not a danger to himself or others, like those innocent bystanders at the Bronze who aren't equipped to appreciate the sight of a naked, drunk, dancing vampire. It's perfectly decent reasoning."

Xander shook his head. "No, it's a flimsy excuse dreamed up by a deranged man in a moment of extreme insanity proven by the fact that he actually went to Angel for advice. Spike's not a kid, and he's perfectly capable of taking care of himself."

"Xander, all we need is a flimsy excuse. Once we get him moved in, we can seduce him, and by the time Spike's naked in our shower, he won't care if we only want him there so we can deduct him on our taxes." She frowned. "We can't, by the way. I checked."

It would be a heck of a lot easier to concentrate on whether she was right or not, if Anya didn't keep saying things like "Spike's naked in our shower."

"Ahn... Talking about it with you was one thing. Actually doing it is something completely different."

"Yes. It's sexier."

"Not that kind of doing it. I mean, asking Spike to move in with us. How do we even know he'd want to?"

She put her hands on her hips, and gave him her best, 'Puh-leeeze' expression. "He's lonely, he's bored, and he's been reduced to redecorating tombstones for fun." She pointed to the nearest one, which had once read, 'Here lies Tom Spencer, Beloved Father and Husband.' Now it said, in roughly-chipped carving, 'Buffy Summers Has Stupid Hair. And she cheats at Kitten Poker.'

"Right, but that doesn't mean he's interested in...you know. Us. Me. You." Xander backpedaled quickly when he saw the stormy look approaching Anya's face. "I mean, anybody would be interested in you. But in a..."

"Kinky threesome?" Anya finished.

"Did somebody say kinky threesome?" The low British voice drawled from just inside the door. Xander groaned, crouched down lower, and tried very hard to look like a tombstone. "Oh, for god's sake, get up, Harris," Spike told him as he opened the door and stood next to Anya. Gah. Black jeans. Muscle-shirt. Gah. "You look like that parody of the Village People they have up at Rick's Triple X Video." Xander rose to his feet, blushing furiously.

"Oh, you've seen that one?" Anya asked brightly. "Xander and I wanted to, but they said they had to order a new copy, when I tried to rent it."

Spike was grinning right at Xander while he answered Anya. "Well, yeah. Somebody might've...er...worn it out, I suppose." He lifted one eyebrow as he leaned on the outside wall of his crypt. "So what're you two doing here? Just dropped by to tuck me in and read me a bedtime story? Play a game of Scrabble? Warn me not to go out at night 'cos there's ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties about?"

"We came to proposition you," Anya said succinctly.

"Not in a kinky threesome way," Xander said quickly, glaring at Anya. "Just a 'would you like to move your stuff into our place because it's better than a crypt and we could use some help around the apartment and sometimes we worry about you' way." He couldn't breathe. Wasn't that a sign of impending heart failure?

"Ah." Spike pursed his lips, as if he were thinking it over. "So it's nothing to do with wantin' to see me strut my bad stuff to Macho Man, then?"

Definitely heart failure. Followed by brain failure. Xander closed his eyes, and wondered if he could walk back to the car that way without tripping over any tombstones. Then he opened them, suddenly irked. "You mean you were listening to us all along?"

"Been gabbing loud enough to wake the dead out here - and there's a lot to choose from. Might as well listen in, since you lot interrupted my alone-time with Nana Mouskouri." Spike rejoined. Xander realized that sometime during his and Anya's talk, the strange music from within the crypt had disappeared. "Nobody messes with the Nana-time. That's the first thing you two need to know when I shack up with you."

"But you just let me go on like that, making a fool of myself?" Xander asked, stepping up into Spike's face.

The grin he got in response to that could've lit up the whole cemetery and half the surrounding block. "What can I say -- I'm evil. Remember?"

Xander glared at him. And glared. And glared. Until finally something penetrated the chorus of 'I am a dork, I am a dork, I am so embarrassed, I am a dork...' in his mind. "*When* you shack up with us?"

"Yeah. Half an hour or so. I'm pretty much packed, but I've got a few things left downstairs. Plus I want my Nana-time. Sod off to the malt-shop for a bit, eh? Swing back by around nine?"

"When you..."

Anya was pulling on his arm. "Come on, Xander. He said yes. This is a good thing, remember?"

"Remind me why?"

"Because now we can actually have naked Spike in our shower, instead of just thinking about it?"

Xander groaned loudly. "I do not think about... Oh, forget it."

She led him toward the car, patting his arm, and telling him in soothing tones, "Hey, at least we didn't have to go with the backup plan."






Part Eight: Coda: Spike

Spike stepped back into his crypt with a satisfied grin.

"Did it work?" he heard from the floor in front of his stereo, where Dawn sat cross-legged, flipping through his CDs.

"Yours truly is the proud new pet of one Xander and Anya Harris, completely house-trained and available for private dances upon request," he bragged. He added quickly, "Not for you, so don't even ask, you pint-sized pervert."

Dawn just held out her hand. "I told you they'd be here before the week was over, if you did the dancing on the roof thing. Pay up."

Spike narrowed his eyes, but reached into his pocket and pulled out a crumpled twenty, slapping it into her palm. "I liked you better when you were innocent and underaged and didn't know what Xander meant when he said the Wiccas were off doing spells together."

She smirked. "Times change. I'm an eighteen year old woman with a shopping habit to support. You're a hundred and thirty-one year old private dancer and future houseboy. Get over it. Besides, don't say you didn't have fun with the whole thing."

"Well, the getting drunk part was fun, and the dancing, and the being coddled by the two of them. The vomiting, I could've done without."

"Yeah, yeah. Small price to pay." Dawn rose to her feet and peered out into the night at Anya and Xander's departing car. "I'm kinda disappointed you didn't hold out longer, though. You're too easy. You barely even let them get that lame, not-even-indecent-proposal out of their mouths, before you jumped on it."

Spike blinked at her as he walked over and pressed PLAY on the CD, and the Greek version of "White Rose of Athens" filled the crypt again. She looked back at him, making a face at the choice of music; he flipped two fingers at her. It was an old argument.

This was a new one. He liked new arguments. "I am not easy. And it wasn't that lame. At least they've got initiative; they came right out and asked."

Dawn gave him a positively malevolent grin. "The backup plan involved chains."

Spike swallowed hard, then glared at her. "Why didn't you mention that earlier?"

"What can I say -- I'm evil, remember?"



The End