Someone Else's Problem
Xander groaned as he woke up and rubbed his eyes. The little voices were back again. He got up and went over to his second-hand computer, the one he had bought off Willow, and sat down to record it. "I really do take dictation for the muses," he muttered as it booted up. As soon as he could, he opened his word processing program and started typing what they had told him. After all, they got *way* upset when he ignored them. He was so busy typing that he didn't hear his roommate getting up. "What?" he mumbled.
"You're up at eight?" Oz asked in shock.
"Oh." Oz patted him on the back and went to their refrigerator to grab him a soda. He put the two-liter beside Xander and went back to bed. Xander would get to go back to sleep soon enough. His muses only wanted him for the next few hours to purge the ideas. Hopefully anyway. There had been times when the muses had sent him on a marathon of writing, which was bad. You didn't know someone until you put them to bed because the little voices in their head were running them too hard and they had almost passed out at the computer. "Xander," he said quietly during a lull in the typing. "They done?"
"No," he moaned, picking up the two-liter to drink out of. "They're working in serial mode right now. This is the next part to the long, never-ending series. After a few hours maybe." He put the cap back on and put it down next to his desk again, going back to typing as fast as he could so he wouldn't miss anything.
Oz shook his head and pulled the blankets up so he could sleep. Maybe if he was lucky, the strange dreams wouldn't come again this time.
Xander worked feverishly, hoping to be let go early so he could go write. He really needed a job he could write at. Finally, the muses got to be too much. He took off his apron and put it on the counter, nodding at his manager as he left. "I'm done with my section," he told him, jogging out to get into his crappy car. He had to get home, right now, and go work on his computer.
Oz was just logging off as he walked in the door. He pulled off his shirt as he walked across the small apartment they shared and took the warm seat almost before Oz could get up. He opened his program and started to type, oblivious to the world around him.
Oz stared at his roommate's back for a few seconds then shook his head. He went to fix them supper, not that Xander would notice for a few more hours, at least. It was going to be one of *those* sessions. He pulled out a pot and ran some water into it, putting it on the stove. "Pasta?" he called.
"Elbows," Xander called back, then frowned as he had to hit the backspace key six times. "Don't do that."
"Sorry." Oz shook his head and picked up the box of elbows from the shelf next to the stove, pouring some into the boiling water. "I'm going to make a call," he called.
"Hey, I'm not online. Feel free," Xander mumbled, then grinned and erased a line, fixing it so it made sense. "Thanks."
"Welcome." Oz sat on the bed, their only piece of furniture besides the cheap desk, and dialed a familiar number. "Hey, Giles, it's me. No, Xander's muses have attacked again. Yeah, I know what you think they are. Want to come make sure?" Xander's head popped up and he started to sniff the air. "Oops, got to go stir supper. Yeah, anytime is fine." He hung up and walked over, stopping the pasta from mating.
It was only half an hour later when someone knocked on the door. Oz got up to answer it, Xander was no where on this conscious plane, and looked at the landlord. "We paid you," he noted.
"Yeah, but I'm here to tell you that we're doing a bug check tomorrow. Someone needs to be here." He saw Xander raise his hand. "And aware?"
Oz shrugged. "If not, I'll have my phone with me and you can yell. I'll get back by the time you get back to us." He nodded Giles inside, letting him pass him. "He's locked into his muses." He looked at the landlord again. "Anything else?"
"No, but what's wrong with him? He mental or something?" He remembered the last time he had met with a muse-inspired Xander, and it was scary. The guy looked through him and everything.
"Or something," Oz agreed, shutting the door. He turned to find Giles pulling Xander's head up to look into his eyes. "Xander, food?" he asked.
"Please. Do we have any cheese left?"
"Yeah, you're getting some," Oz told him, going to fix him a plate of elbows and sprinkle cheese. He walked the plate over and sat on the bed, staring at the two men in the staring contest. "So?" he asked finally.
"I can't find a trace that they're demons," Giles said thoughtfully, letting Xander go so he could sit on the bed and watch him type while he ate.
"Rule number two," Oz called out. "No eating while writing. You forget to eat." Xander scarfed the food and went back to his typing. "This is the normal us," Oz told Giles. "He takes dictation for his muses and I study."
Giles sighed. "I see. Have we considered that these voices may, in fact, be some sort of delusion or hallucination?"
Oz shrugged. "I know they're contagious. They've been trying to get me for a few weeks now."
Xander turned to look at him. "They have? Have they told you the ending to that one series, the long parts one?"
Oz shook his head. "Sorry, they give me strange dreams but no stories of yours." He looked his friend over. "If I start to write too, we'll need another computer and desk."
"I thought yours worked," Xander said, turning back around. He ran his finger around the plate to make sure he had all the sauce and cheese off. "Was good, Oz, thanks."
"Yeah, if you wouldn't mind," Xander said, holding up the plate.
Oz got up and took the plate, going to feed his roommate. "Giles, there's enough here for you to have some too," he suggested.
"No thank you, I've already eaten." He watched as Oz catered to the delusions Xander was putting down on the screen, all but shaking his head at the blatant enabling behavior Oz was showing. He pulled Oz down beside him. "Xander needs help," he told him quietly. "You can't keep aiding and abetting these behaviors."
"Giles, you've never seen him without his muses," Oz pointed out carefully. "A depressed and moping Xander was nothing compared to the free, but confused and stuffed full Xander." He blinked a few times. "Oh, you think he needs *help*." He nodded. "Maybe, but I doubt having muses is a mental illness recognized by the appropriate people."
Giles patted him on the shoulder. "Oz, trust me, Xander needs to see someone professional."
"Only if it's a grammar teacher," Xander muttered, deleting most of a line and retyping it. "Oz, can I get a quick beta tonight?"
"Sure," Oz said. "Giles thinks you need a shrink."
"Can we find one that's a writer? They'll understand."
"Maybe," Oz agreed. He looked at Giles again. "I know you don't understand; I was making sure it wasn't demonic."
Giles stood up, smoothing down his shirt. "It's definitely not demonic," he said calmly, "but you need to get the boy some help, Oz. Before he gets worse."
"No, no more muses! Six are enough!" Xander said firmly, stopping to look up at him. "No more muses. I don't need any more muses!" He glared at Giles. "If it was a mental problem, wouldn't it have shown up before now?"
"Not necessarily. A few of them don't show up until your twenties. One of them is Schizophrenia."
"Which means a break with reality," Oz agreed. "It fits, but it's not a mental problem, it's a muse problem." Oz nodded at the door. "I'll walk you out." He turned once they were alone. "Want to go once, just to show him he's wrong?"
"No," Xander said with a fond smile at his favorite beta. "I want him to have a case of muses." He winked and went back to his typing, opening a new window. "I think I have a new plotbunny," he said cheerfully.
Oz groaned and went to see if there was any supper left.
Oz opened the door, looking quizzically at Giles. "Come in, we're sharing muse stories."
Giles rubbed across his forehead. "I think I may join you in that." He glared at Xander. "You infected my house with the wretched things, didn't you," he accused.
Xander looked innocent and shook his head. "They like to spread here and there, but I *never* have any say over them, Giles. Honestly, if I did, I'd have one of my series done a *long* time ago and only have four stories going at once instead of twelve."
Giles moaned and came in to sit down. "These things are horrible. They wake me up! They whisper all day long. I found myself writing during a meeting yesterday." He looked up at Oz. "You were right, they're contagious."
Oz snorted. "Tell me about it. I've gotten a good case of them." He looked at his computer. "They're being nice, want some time to type?"
"No," Giles begged. "Please, not that. I see no reason to humor them. I can't write and I'd never show them to anyone anyway."
Oz grunted. "There's these nice places online called mailing lists," he said calmly, coming over to pat him on the shoulder. "Maybe we can form a beta circle."
Xander nodded. "Yeah, Giles is English, he should know a lot about grammar." He grinned manically at Giles. "I'll help you start your first story if you want. I'm really good at it. Just ask Oz."
"Who's writing an epic," Oz pointed out. He gave Giles a hug. "Don't worry, it's like friendship, without the extra people or birthdays." He sat in front of his computer and started typing again, occasionally taking a sip from his two-liter of iced tea.
Giles flopped backward on the bed, holding his head. "This can't be allowed to go on," he complained. "There must be a cure."
Xander and Oz both burst out laughing. "Of course there is," they said together.