"What in the world are you watching?"
Spike jerked his head around to see Buffy standing in the doorway of his den. His eyes grew
rounding as saucers and his face turned crimson, as all the blood rushed to his cheeks in
He turned his head back to the movie and noticed his feet sitting on the coffee table. Correction,
he noticed his fuzzy, yellow chicken-slippered feet sitting on the coffee table. And the white tube
socks pulled up to his knees, with three red lines circling the top of them, because his feet had
been cold. And his bare legs which ran up under a pair of smiley-faced, plaid boxers that were so
thread-bare, they should have disintegrated already. And there was the little problem with the
fact that he had no shirt on, which left the tattoo that curled around his side easily visible.
Backed into a corner and his manhood extremely threatened, he went on the offensive...and kept
his arm pressed to his side. "You come into my bloody house without knocking and you have
the nerve to mock me?" he scowled.
Buffy arched a brow at him, then looked down at his slippers. When her eyes returned to his, her
other brow joined the first one. "Nice chickens."
"You didn't answer my question," she pointed out, moving from the entryway towards the
couch. Spike had to fight not to leap to his feet and run out of the room. "What in the world are
"It's a soddin' movie, what do you think it is?" Spike growled.
"I know that," she sighed, taking a seat beside him on the couch. "Do anyone ever tell you that
you are one strange vampire?"
"I can watch whatever I bloody well choose," he stated, folding his arms across his chest. "Now,
"Can't," Buffy told him.
"Yes, you can," Spike replied. "You just get off your sweet arse and toddle on back the way you
Spike ground his teeth together. "And why not?"
"I'm the scouting party before the main troops arrive," she replied.
She smirked and glanced at his shorts. "You're about to be invaded. I suggest you go put
Spike's mouth opened and closed several times in incomprehension. The amused smirk only
grew on her face. "What?" he asked again.
"I guess I should explain, seeing as how Xander is looking like a rocket scientist compared to you
right now," Buffy said. He scowled at her again. "We took a vote -- which I thoroughly lost, by
the by -- and you have been elected to host this year's Slaying Retreat."
"I'm lost," he admitted.
"Not too hard, considering who you are," she teased.
He glared at her, then continued. "Can you explain to me in English what the bloody hell you're
Buffy sighed dramatically. "Ok, it's like this. Every year at this time since I was a sophomore in
high school, our little band of jolly evil-fighters gets together for an overnight retreat. It's kind of
a 'bond with your fellow coworkers' type thingy. We let out all our grievances with working
together and over the way things are done, then we get drunk and sing the friends song and cry.
Whenever we finally get up the next day, we go home and it's back to slaying as usual."
"Right," Spike said, shaking his head. "And you've gone and decided to have it here, in my
home, without even asking me?"
"First of all, I told you I was outvoted," Buffy pointed out. "And, currently, you have the biggest
Spike narrowed his eyes. "Just how many people are coming to this little shindig?"
"Oh, it's the usual crew," she hemmed. "Willow, Oz, Xander, Anya -- Giles is a no show this
year, because he's stuck in Utah -- and, uh, Cordelia and Angel, too."
"And they're all coming here?"
"And you're still in tube socks watching-" she glanced at the video box on the coffee table next
to his chicken-clad feet. "-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, the Secret of the Ooze?" She
snorted in a very unladylike fashion.
"Shut up," Spike snapped. He picked up the remote and clicked of the VCR and television. "It's
a good martial arts movie."
"Uh-huh," Buffy laughed.
Spike tossed the remote on the couch beside him and stood up. He put his hands on his hips and
glared at her in the darkened den. "Quit your laughing or I'll throw you out on your arse!"
Buffy pressed her lips together and stared up at him with wide innocent eyes. "I'm not
laughing," she squeaked out before clamping her lips together again.
He muttered something unintelligible, then stomped out of the room and up the stairs.
Spike pinched the bridge of his nose and wondered how in the world he managed to get himself
into these situations. Someone was laughing their butt off at him, that was for certain. With a
sigh, he pulled a light grey T-shirt over his head, then tucked it into his blue jeans. Not having
expected company, all his normal black clothing were in the laundry, which meant he was going
to be mocked for wearing something different.
Not wanting to put his Doc Martins on, and definitely not wanting to put his chicken slippers
back on, he dug out another pair of socks and slid them over the ones already on his feet. He
hated having cold feet. Granted, he was technically a walking corpse, so his feet were suppose to
be cold; but that didn't mean he liked it.
He heard the doorbell ring in his sprawling, tri-level, brick home in one of the older
neighborhoods of Sunnydale and he grumbled to himself, "I don't want to do this."
Resigning himself to the fact that he was no longer in control of his unlife, he descended the two
flights of stairs from his bedroom to see that Buffy had already answered the front door. It irked
him that she'd made herself right at home in his home. So what if he'd given her a key and an
all-access invitation? That didn't mean she was suppose to use it to invite everyone and their
brother's uncle over for a sleep-over party.
She was supposed to use it to come over and shag him until he died -- again. She had yet to
grasp that hint.
"Hey Buff," Xander greeted, carrying several bags in his arms. He was followed by Anya. "Hey
Spike glared at Xander, as the twenty-year-old passed him by, but smiled at Anya. "Hello,
ducks. I see you haven't killed the sod yet. Pity."
"He has his uses," Anya said. "I have found that men are good at opening stubborn jars and at
destroying icky things, like spiders."
"Don't forget fetching and carrying things," Cordelia said, entering the house. She stopped in
the doorway and nodded. "This is somewhat nice."
"Cord, get your butt out of the way," Angel said from behind her, loaded down with bags, like
Xander had been. "I'm sure Spike will give us the nickel-and-dime tour, so move."
Cordelia huffed and moved further into the foyer, allowing Angel to enter after Buffy invited him
in. Willow and Oz followed behind him, the matching redheads both loaded down with bags.
"Hi, Spike!" Willow said cheerfully. "Thanks for letting us have the retreat here. Usually, we'd
have it at my house, but my parents are actually home for once. Oh, I hope Buffy explained that
we were coming and about the retreat. You missed it last year by a whole two weeks."
"Lucky bastard," Angel muttered to Spike, as he walked past the blond vampire to deposit his
and Cordelia's bags beside Xander and Anya's. Spike was surprised at his sire's friendliness, but
decided to go with the flow.
"Yeah, I told him," Buffy said. She looked at Spike, then ran her eyes over him from head-to-toe. A smile that Spike couldn't define appeared on her face, and he didn't know whether that
was a good or bad thing.
"Right," Spike agreed. He glanced at his unwelcome guests. "Well, most of you know where
everything is. Those of you who want the tour, Mr. Trolley is leaving the station." He turned and
headed for the stairs, not waiting to see who followed.
When he reached the second level, he closed the door to the third floor, which was directly
around the corner from the stairs. No one had been in the master bedroom before, which took up
the entire top floor of the home, along with a master bath and large, walk-in closet.
The second floor had four bedrooms, a bathroom and a small sitting area beside the stairwell.
One of the bedrooms was separated from the other three down a short hall to the right, past the
stairs to the third floor. Across from the sitting area was the bathroom, and to the left, down
another hallway, were the other three bedrooms.
The main level had a spacious kitchen, dining room, living room, powder room and foyer. The
front door was, in actuality, located on the side of the house. A door to the right of the front door
led to the powder room. Going straight ahead from the door was the entry to the living room,
past the stairs going both up and down. The dining room was connected to the living room,
which, in turn, was connected to the kitchen. A small hallway ran next to the stairs going down
that also led to the kitchen, which was set behind the powder room in the physical layout of the
Three-fourths of the basement had been converted into a finished den. An area had been walled
off to hide the utilities necessary to keep a house furnished with water, heat and other things. It
also hid the laundry room and storage space. The nice addition to the room was the dumb-waiter
that led up to the kitchen and a fully functional bar, complete with mini-refrigerator and running
water. It was the room used most often when the Slayer and chums descended upon Spike like
locusts and it was where the tour ended.
Spike headed directly to the bar and poured himself a shot of vodka. He downed it quickly, then
surveyed those in the room as he poured himself a second one. Willow was sitting on the floor in
between the coffee table and beige couch, flipping through a three-ring binder. Oz was behind
her, his legs on either side of her body. Anya was sitting primly on the other end of the same
couch, watching Xander toss bags of chips and dip onto the table from a bag he brought.
Cordelia had taken a seat beside Buffy on the second couch, set perpendicular to the first one.
Angel walked over to the bar and took a seat on the stool across from him. "I could use one of
those," he said. The dark-haired vampire glanced back at the others in the room, then added,
"Why am I getting the feeling I'm going to hate this?" Spike commented, setting up a round for
"You will," Angel told him, quaffing the shot. He set the glass down and gestured for a refill.
"I've done this three times already. I got lucky. One year, I was in hell."
"Here you go, Tiny," Xander said, walking up to the bar, holding another paper bag. "To be
consumed later tonight."
Spike took the bag without comment, but once again glared daggers at the brunette. Ever since
Xander realized he was taller than the vampire by several inches, he'd taunted Spike non-stop
about it. For some reason, despite the fact that Oz was even shorter than him, Xander never
called the wolf on it.
When Xander left, Angel arched his brow at Spike. "Tiny?"
"Shut up," Spike said.
"I hope he was referring to your height and not your..."
"I said shut up," Spike growled. He set the paper bag down behind the counter and quickly
drank a fourth shot.
"I wouldn't get drunk before hand," Angel cautioned. "You could end up revealing something
you really don't want them to know about."
"How's that?" Spike asked.
"This is one of those sharing retreats," Angel explained. "Willow organizes it every year.
Complete honesty is the only requirement. If you don't feel comfortable answering the question,
"Touchy-feeling things, eh?" he said. "Shouldn't you be thrilled? You've got the brooding and
crying down to an art."
Angel glared at him, then sighed. "I like a good brood. That doesn't mean I want to share what
I'm brooding about. Now that I think about it, though, I haven't had a serious brooding session
"You're getting a leg up on her?" Spike said in amazement. "Shit, the Slayer's gonna be pissed."
"I meant since she descended on my unlife with all her tactlessness, nimrod," Angel said,
"Besides, Buffy doesn't care that I'm sleeping with Cordy," Angel added. He laughed when
Spike's jaw dropped open. "I've forgotten how much fun you are." He stood, walked over to
the couch and sat down next to Buffy.
"Pillock," Spike finally uttered. Grabbing a long-neck from the mini-refrigerator, he removed the
top, then joined the others. He sat down on the floor in front of the wide-screen television, with
his legs stretched out in front of him and leaning back on his forearms. The soft lamp lights gave
the room a cozy feeling, which only served to put him more on edge. All he wanted to do was sit
around in his shorts and have a Turtles marathon.
"I guess we'll start," Willow said. She grinned at everyone. "Welcome to the annual Slaying
Retreat. Let's go around the circle and say how many of these you've done, starting with
"This will be my fourth one," Angel said.
"Fifth," Buffy said next.
"You losers have dragged me to this for the fourth time, now," Cordelia stated.
"Fifth for me," Willow said next, with a small bounce.
"Third," Oz said.
"This is my fifth mission," Xander said. "I am ready to boldly go where I've been four times
"Second," Anya said quietly.
"Er, first," Spike said, after everyone stared at him when he didn't immediately speak. He took a
pull on his beer and wondered why he hadn't staked himself the previous year before he'd gotten
involved with the group.
"Ok," Willow said, referring to her binder. She picked up a pen and tapped it lightly on the page.
"Our 'think-about-it' for this evening is this: What do you know that someone else in this room
did that you witnessed that was really embarrassing for him or her. Remember, it's something
that person did that you witnessed, not something about them personally, like saying Angel
wears orange thong underwear or something."
Everyone tittered and Angel gave Willow a look. She winked at him. "So, think about that while
we get started on the work-related stuff," she instructed.
Spike tried to remember where the stake he'd hidden in the room was located.
"Oz, will you read our mission statement, please?" Willow asked.
Oz leaned forward and read over Willow's shoulder. "'As a team, we strive to protect our area of
the world from as much evil as we can; to help those around us if necessary, even if they don't
want it; to keep our activities as secretive as possible, but not from each other; and to remember
that no one person is more important than another.'" The werewolf smirked. "'And to not stake
Angel or Spike, no matter how much you want to.'"
"Xander!" Willow exclaimed, reaching over and slapping the brunette on the calf. "I said you
could see it, not write in it!"
"I didn't do it," Xander said, defensively. "Honest!"
"Xander, one of the rules is no lying," Willow scolded.
"He's not," Cordelia said. She smirked at Angel. "I wrote it."
"I love you, too, Lia," Angel said sarcastically.
"Don't call me that," Cordelia told him. "You know I hate that stupid nickname."
"Lia, Lia, Lia, Lia," Angel chanted softly until Buffy socked him in the arm. He chuckled and put
his arm along the back of the couch, above her head.
"Ok, um..." Willow turned the page in the binder. "Research stuff. Giles isn't hear to defend
himself, so don't be too harsh on him. It's not his fault that he's British."
"On behalf of my country, bugger off," Spike said. They were just jealous that the Brits were
superior in every way, he thought, as he took another sip of his beer. His English beer.
"I'll start, considering it's the research that helps me slay the baddies," Buffy said. "I never
would have thought these words would come out of my mouth, but here goes. We need more
"Nyah," Xander shivered dramatically.
"More books, ok." Willow jotted on the page. "Anything else?"
"Anya needs to contribute more," Oz said. He glanced at the former demon on the other side of
Xander. "You have been around quite a long time."
"So have they," Anya said, gesturing to the two vampires.
"Don't look at me," Spike said. "I don't know anything." He groaned when everyone laughed
at him due to the stupidity of his statement. "Go ahead, you twits. Laugh it up."
"Ask Angel and Anya, but not Spike, because he doesn't know anything," Willow summed,
writing in the binder. "Got it. Anything else?" When no one said anything, she continued.
"Then on to the slaying part."
"There should be a dry-cleaning service especially for us," Cordelia said. "Do you know how
hard it is to find someone who'll even try to get demon guts out of my clothes?"
"I second that," Buffy said. "Blood refuses to come out unless I get it in water right away."
"Don't ever stake a vampire in the rain," Cordelia warned Buffy. "Their ashes turn to this pasty
stuff and it bleaches!"
"The nerve of those dead vampires," Xander joked.
"C'mon, guys, this is semi-serious time," Willow said.
"The knives and swords are dull," Spike volunteered. He looked over at Buffy. "The Slayer's
tongue is sharper."
Buffy stuck the tip of her tongue out and wiggled it up and down, as if she were licking
something. Spike looked away quickly and took another long pull on his beer. One of these
days, he'd get some brass knackers and jump her delicious bones. Until then, he'd stick to being
the wuss that he'd become.
"I like the response time," Oz said.
"We deploy the troops quite quickly, I agree, Oz-man," Xander said.
"Anything on your end, Angel?" Willow asked.
"It would be nice if we had a faster way to get back and forth to LA," Angel replied.
"We should buy a plane," Cordelia suggested. "A little Cessna."
"And who's going to fly it?" Angel asked her. "I sure as hell don't know how."
"I do," Spike said. They looked at him and he shrugged. "Some bloke by the name of Von
Richter or Richthofen or something taught me."
Willow, Oz, Angel, Anya and Cordelia stared at him, wide-eyed. "You knew the Red Baron?!"
Willow finally squealed.
"He knew the pizza guy?" Xander asked, confused.
"I thought that was the guy who went against Snoopy," Buffy said to Xander. "You remember,
when he's playing the World War II flying ace? And he's in love with the little French girl?"
"Oui," Xander replied, with a grin.
Spike shifted under the others' stares. "I don't know who he was," he said. "He was just some
git who flew a biplane that I met with Dru."
"Wow," Willow said. She shook her head. "Um, back to work. Anyone?"