Xander walked from The Party Store to his SUV. Fumbling with his keys, he managed to get the bags of supplies into the back without spilling any balloons or streamers. He left it open as he ran back in for the mini helium tank.
He climbed into the driver’s side and started the vehicle but paused before he left the parking spot. The dashboard clock read 4:22PM. He had too much to do. He’d promised Rita and the Kids he’d take them out on the boat again on Sunday (tomorrow), and that always led to the rest of the evening spent doing family stuff. He enjoyed it on some level, but he found the more time he spent with Rita and the kids pretending to be a real, feeling, normal person, the more he wanted to hit things.
Which left him with this evening to figure out what spectacular thing he would do for Deb’s birthday. Supplies alone wouldn’t do it. He needed some fantastic, creative, fun idea. He sighed.
“What do normal people like to do for birthdays?” He spoke aloud to the cell phone in his hand. “Don’t make me regret this, Spike.” He dialed Deb’s cell.
She picked up on ring number 5, out of breath.
“Yeah?” Xander could hear her giggling and a low growl in the background. He sighed again. The reality of Spike and Deb having a relationship was going to take a little more getting used to.
“Deb,” he asked. “Deb?”
“I hate to pull you away from the obvious fun that you’re having, but I need to speak with William.”
That brought Deb into the conversation. She responded with characteristic paranoia. “Why?”
“You don’t want to know.” He tried to sound secretive, with an underlying amount of happy. Harry had taught him that if you smile when you talk (even fake-smile) the listener can hear it. So he plastered a smile on his face and requested, “Com’on sis, put him on.”
The squeal let him know that she assumed it was about her birthday, which it partially was.
Spike’s voice was rough. “Yeah?”
“Can Deb hear?”
Xander heard some shuffling, then a closing door and an irritated ‘hey!’ from his sister.
“Not anymore,” Spike said. Xander realized then that you really can
hear a smile in someone’s voice.
“Good. Couple things. First, I thought you might want to patrol with me tonight. It’s been a while since I did a real sweep of the area – I’ve been so focused on that asshole for so long - and I thought you might want to work off a bit of the hunger. Also … I need ideas for Deb’s party.” He paused, hating to admit it. “You always made acting human seem so effortless.”
Spike laughed. “It helps if you once were,” he quipped. “Sure. Time?”
“Meet me at my apartment at 10.”
“And don’t do dirty things to my sister.”
The voice of innocence responded, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“I heard the giggling and growling – you just keep yourself in check. You do
remember the shovel speech from your spell-made Buffy-engagement, don’t you?”
Spike paused. Xander chuckled quietly. Funny how much more seriously a shovel could be taken from a killer like Dexter than from a bunch of teens. “Yeah, mate. I remember.”
A door opened in the background and the phone changed hands.
“What are you up to with Will? He looks scared.” Deb asked, obviously unsure whether or not to trust whatever was going on.
“Hey, you wanted us to bond, right?” Xander wished he didn’t always have to lie to her, but it was the only way to keep her away from the darkness of his life. “We’re just going to get a couple drinks and … stuff.” He was lucky her birthday was coming up. Hopefully by then a friendship between he and Spike would be valid enough that they wouldn’t have to lie because Deb always seemed to know when her brother was lying.
“Fine.” She hung up on him, but he heard the joy in her voice. He really should do things for her more often. It made her so happy.
A/N: Please review!