This bunny of the day has been very heavily influenced by othercat
's "The One Who Sees
," which I was reading at the time. I highly enjoyed "The One Who Sees," although I'm having some issues with the gap between it and the WiP sequel, "Walking With Heroes
Xander's in England after his tour of duty in Africa. It turns out that he's really good at dealing with slayers with problems. Not severe problems, like Dana. There are other people for that. But slayers with other kinds of problems, like Shelly, who's fifteen and pregnant, or Etana, who he'd found wandering the African wilderness after her village had disowned her. Or Elizabeth, whose parents are the coldest people Xander's ever met, and who struggles against expectations of perfection in ways that are far more likely to kill her than any of the monsters they fight. Xander's good at dealing with them, but it takes a lot out of him. He's always on duty, twenty-four seven, and that's tiring, even though he knows this is what he's supposed to be doing. He finally has a purpose.
Dawn calls Spike first, and wheedles him into coming to help. "Xander's good at this, but he needs some help," she says. "He was always better with you around." He argues a little, about Angel needing him there, but they both know that he was always going to do whatever she wanted him to do.
She calls Xander after that. "Spike's going to come and stay with you."
"What do you mean stay with me?"
"You're better with him there," she says, "and he's better with you. I know you need help."
"I have a house full of unstable vampire slayers," he says. "Do you really think a vampire is the best person to help out?"
"He can help you train them. It'll be good for them to know they're not all monsters. Besides, it's him or Andrew."
Xander shudders but makes one last attempt. "Does Giles know about this?"
"Of course he does. He said if I could make it happen, it was okay."
Dawn makes all the arrangements and somehow keeps them from actually talking to each other.
Xander sits his girls down at dinner one night and tells them they're going to have another addition to the house.
"Another slayer?" Shelly asks.
"No," he says. "His name is Spike. He's a vampire."
He waits until they've calmed down a bit to continue. "He has a soul. He's fighting on our side now. He's the one who closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale."
Shelly pouts and rests a hand on her stomach. "I don't care. He's a *vampire*."
"Is he another Watcher?" Elizabeth asks.
Her question startles Xander into laughing. "No," he says. "No. Think of him as another tutor."
"Glorified babysitter," is what Spike says when he gets Dawn's carefully prepared packet with its clear delineation of his duties, which include holding down the fort when Xander needs a break.
Xander steps out of the house when Dawn pulls up in a company car. The girls are tensely lined up on the couch.
Dawn gives him a tight hug and lets Spike carry his own luggage. Spike and Xander nod at each other, and Xander formally invites him in. He has Spike dump his stuff in the entryway and takes him in to meet his girls.
It's a tense moment while the girls struggle not to react to the slayer sense telling them to kill the vampire. Spike's on his best behavior, which Xander suspects must be due to something Dawn has said or done.
"I'm going to get Spike settled in," Xander says. "Elizabeth, help Etana start dinner. Dawn can keep Shelly company for a little bit."
"England," Spike says, when Xander takes him to his room.
"Yep." Xander waves around the room. "You should be able to find everything. There's a space heater in the closet if you need it. Bathroom's down the hall. If you leave wet towels on the floor, I'll let the girls use holy water when they train with you."
Spike snorted. "Yeah, you're scary."
"I'm watcher to three slayers. I've got some power." Xander crosses his arms and leans against the doorway.
Spike snorts. "Yeah, right. Nanny to three messed up little girls more like."
Xander pushes away from the wall and takes the two steps to Spike. "I know Dawn thinks you're here to take care of me. I'm glad to have you here to help out. The girls could use someone they can really whale on. You're going to help me make them stronger. But if I ever hear you say anything like that to them, I will personally throw you out of the house myself."
Spike seems to think about that for a moment, and then he nods. "Right. No callin' the slayers crazy. Check." Xander waits until Spike says, "Not gonna do anything to emotionally damage your slayers."
Xander nods. "Good. Dinner's downstairs in twenty. We stocked the fridge with blood."
He goes downstairs and supervises dinner. He gives Elizabeth a one-armed hug and tells her it doesn't matter that she's cut the tomatoes so finely they're almost all juice.
Dawn leaves after dinner, but not before she's had a hurried conversation in low tones with Spike.
After she's gone, Spike goes out onto the porch to smoke and Xander settles the girls in for a little generic research.
"Give me the real story," Spike says when Xander joins him on the porch. "Your words. Not the official file version."
Xander wraps his arms around himself; England really is cold. "Shelly's pregnant. We think she was raped, but she won't talk about it. She's strong anyway, but she protects the baby. She might not be able to knock you down.
"I found Etana wandering in the wilderness in Africa. She'd been beaten and expelled from her village. She's never told me the whole story. She's strong, and she's doing the best of all of them. If she keeps doing well, Giles will probably transfer her out in a couple of months.
"Elizabeth." Xander sighed. "She's actually doing worse than Etana and Shelly put together. She comes from some kind of aristocratic British family. Her parents..." Xander trails off. "Her parents are pretty horrible. She's the classic poor little rich girl. When she first came here, the tomatoes thing would have sent her into a complete meltdown."
"And you?" Spike asked.
"One-eyed junior watcher with no vacation time. Wrangled into all kinds of things by women with puppy-dog eyes. But don't tell the girls that."
Xander considers Spike for a moment. "And you?"
Spike drops his cigarette and grinds it out under his heel. "Souled vampire, made some mistakes, but trying to do right now."
"Are you going to be able to do this?"
Spike stares off down their frighteningly normal street. "Yeah, I can do this." He goes back into the house.
Xander waits a moment, breathing in the cold, before he goes back in too.
The five of them settle into a routine. Spike spars with the girls, Xander organizes everyone's schedules, the girls mostly do as they're told.
As much as Xander hates to admit it, Dawn had been right. With a second adult around, he can leave the girls at home when he needs to visit the Council. With Spike around, the girls finally have someone who can really teach them how to fight.
Spike stops Xander in the hallway one evening before dinner. "Take the night off," he says.
"Take the night off," Spike repeats. "That's why I'm here, right?"
"What the hell am I supposed to do with a night off?"
Spike shrugs. "Dunno. Don't really care. Plenty of pubs, theater or two. Could always try to get laid." Spike eyes him critically. "You look like you could use it."
"I am not talking about my sex life with you."
"What sex life? Can't imagine you're gettin' any, what with the full-time watching and all."
"Not having this conversation," Xander says.
"Fine, then," Spike says. "Take the night off and do whatever it is you want. I can handle things here."
So Xander takes the night off. Spike's right about him being here to cover for his nights off. Spike's right about his sex life, too, but it's not like he's going to admit that to Spike. Or anyone, really.
Except that he goes to one of the pubs, one he vaguely remembers from before he was therapy watcher number one, and lets a blond stranger pick him up and take him home.
It's just his luck that Spike's still awake when he gets in, and damn the man and his vampire senses. He sniffs, and then the way he whips around to look at Xander is hilarious and it sends Xander into giggles.
Xander may still be a little drunk.