The Out Of Towners.
I sat up as Xander slammed the door, glancing down at your crib to make sure you weren't going to attack your father for waking you up, then glared at the man in question. "It's five," I noted, still surly with sleep.
"I got told I'm being moved to a job out of town." Xander flopped down onto the couch.
"There's a job out of the county and I'm being moved to it. The bad thing is, it's a better job with better pay, so I can't really complain."
"How long?" I asked, running my hands through my hair.
"Oh." I shrugged. "Where is it?"
"Up closer to the middle of the state; it's a low income housing development. The guy who owns my construction company bid on it and he's moving half of his crews up there to finish it on time. Housing is included or I can get a stipend because of Tyler."
"Oh." I blinked a few times. "Have to go?"
"You gonna tell Rupes?"
"I have to. They'll have to make plans for the six months we'll be gone."
"Um, Spike, wake up and we'll discuss this," he said, looking me over. "I need you coherent while I angst here."
"I'm up," I complained, tossing off the blankets so I could head for the shower. By the time I had finished washing my hair, it had hit me. "Six months?" I called.
Xander came to the doorway and leaned on it. "Six months. Up near the middle of the state, small town California."
"Smaller than Sunnydale?" I asked, working conditioner into my hair.
"Yup, much smaller. The town we'll be in has a population of about six hundred. I'm going to ask them to give me the stipend so I can find a decent place."
"We'll need a car," I pointed out. "Mine won't make it much farther. Hit the Sunnydale sign one too many times."
"I know," he sighed. "I got offered a deal on a pickup but it'll need a camper on the back for it to be of any use." He shifted some. "Or there's a toss up at the used car place that the students ditch theirs at. I was going to go check there tonight, after I talk to Giles."
"Good idea," I agreed. "We'll take a walk that way."
"Na-uh. Tyler doesn't need to be out after dark."
"We'll both go," I said more firmly. "We'll let Rupes watch him while we go do that. Shouldn't be more'n an hour."
"Hopefully." Xander let himself slide down the doorframe until he was sitting on the floor. "Spike, this is going to suck majorly. You know that, right?"
"The other alternative is?" I asked.
"A different job with less pay and harder hours."
"So," I said, sticking my hair out of the shower, "sucks majorly or sucks majorly?" He nodded. "Which you gonna do?"
"I guess I'll have to go do this job. At least it's all inside work. He put me forward for the inside finishing crew. That's why I've got two weeks to get up there."
"He hates you, doesn't he?"
He nodded. "He hates kids, but he thinks I'm really noble to take care of him. Stupid, but noble."
I laughed. "Of course he does. How many does he have?"
"Three, which he doesn't see. Or pay support for. His ex apparently took the kids and ran far away."
I pulled back into the shower, finishing up. Then I got out, but left the water running. "Use it," I told him as I stepped over him. "I'll get Tyler ready to go visit." I headed into the bedroom to get dressed and wake the baby up. I did remember to grab the phone and call the Magic Box, just to warn them. "Hey, it's Spike. Xander and I are bringin' in the little creature. No, big news." I snorted. "Not that sort of news, Niblet. Of the gotta do something sort." I hung up and finished zipping up my pants, then grabbed the diaper bag to pack it full. He always ran out of something. By the time Xander got out of the shower, we were both ready to go. I tossed him some pants and a shirt, letting him dress in peace while I went to feed the baby. Tyler was the only child I could ever see myself standing, but he had a wicked sense of humor. Managed to not only piss on Buffy when she was wearing a thin, white shirt without a bra, but managed to toss down her back quite a few times. Even once when she was going nearly backless. It was so cute. This was a baby I could appreciate. The two of them had changed me, but I wasn't too unhappy about it, they had taught me to be more subtle in my badness. Xander headed for the door, already buckling on the baby carrier. I slipped Tyler down in it and away we went.
Giles' face nearly broke as he caught sight of the baby. "Tyler, how are we tonight?" he asked, relieving Xander of his burden. "What sort of problem are you having now?" he asked the baby.
"My boss is sending me to a site out of town for six months," Xander told him, waving when Giles stopped walking and stared at him. "Yeah. All of us. Six months in the middle of California."
"Oh, dear," Giles said. He noticed the customer at the counter. "Xander, could you please get her." He sat down at the table, laying the baby down so he could look him over. "I do believe you've grown since I last saw you."
"Baby's don't grow that fast," Xander pointed out from behind the register. "You saw him last night."
"Leave him be," I advised. "It's good that he likes the bint so much." I grinned as Dawn walked in with a pillow hiding under her shirt. "Tryin' it out?"
Giles turned and glared at Dawn. "Put that away right now!" he ordered.
She rolled her eyes and went to put the pillow back on his couch. "Whatever," she called as she walked away. "I was trying to break the news gently."
"Excuse me," Xander said, turning around to look at her. "You're what?"
She winked at him. "I'm about two months along."
Giles passed out on top of Tyler's little body.
I laughed. After all, I am the Big Bad.
Xander tossed the last bag into the back of the new pickup truck and closed the gate. "In," he told me, walking around to get into the front.
"I can drive," I reminded him as I climbed into the back.
"You will once I'm tired. We've got to be on site tomorrow afternoon." He slammed his door. "Did we forget anything?"
"Nope. We packed everything but the ..." We both ran back upstairs to get the baby, who was already hitched into his carseat, happily sucking his first two fingers. He waved them at us, happily making baby-sorta noises at us. I grabbed him and followed Xander back around the apartment, stopping to pick up our toothbrushes, then we closed the door. Tara was going to be subletting off us for the six months, but she wouldn't be in until tomorrow. We strapped the confusing device into the truck, I got into the back and Xander got in to drive. And away we went.
The baby crapped himself about half a mile out of town, protesting us not running over the sign, taking my side of the argument.
I kicked the door shut on the motel room, leading the sleeping man to the bed and letting him fall. The baby went onto the bed beside him, and I went into the shower. That truck smelled funny. By the time I came out, Xander had managed to pull Tyler in like a teddy bear and wiggled out of his jacket. Everything was still the same. I closed up the curtains and settled in on the other bed. Which squeaked. "Wonderful," I noted, shifting around to get more comfortable. I did finally fall asleep, only to be woken once by hungry baby noises, a wail of banshee proportions, and then later on by the maid, who came in and opened the curtains. Never seen myself move that fast before. "Bloody 'ell, woman!" I shouted.
"Sorry. I thought he had went for the day."
"He'll be back in a bit and we share raisin' the whelp. I take nights so he can sleep." I stood up, out of the path of the sunlight. "Close those. I'm allergic."
"Oh, all right." She closed the curtains again, redoing the safety pins I had used to make sure they stayed closed.
"Thanks." I lit a cigarette and looked her over. "We haven't messed that much up yet."
"I came to give you more towels," she said, pointing at the pile on the dresser/tv stand. She patted the other bed smooth, then looked at me. "You a vampire?" she asked.
I nodded. "A safe enough one. The whelp keeps me in check."
She smiled. "Good. The last one'a you, we killed." She nodded at me and left, closing the door behind her.
"And I thought home was strange," I sighed, stubbing out my cigarette and laying back down. After a second's thought, I got up and put the chain on the door, just in case.
Xander shoved me out of the way as he put the key into the apartment's door, grumbling about how tired he was. First full day on the job and they had him lifting heavy cement bricks, not what he was supposed to be doing. Of course, we were supposed to be staying *away* from the crew too, but that had been another fuckup. He invited me in and then handed off the baby, heading directly to the bedroom.
"I'll unpack," I called, putting the baby into his carseat so he couldn't wiggle away, then went out to grab all Tyler's stuff. Neither of us had this much stuff, not even together, but he had *stuff*. I met a few men who looked out their doors, nodding politely at them. Didn't want to mess up Xander's job, even if I did want to eat a few of those men. The one leaning against the truck surprised me though. "Wolfy," I said happily. "Whelp's in bed."
"I figured." He grabbed some of the gear and helped me carry it up. "When did you two get here?"
"Last night. Bollixed from the go." I dropped the playpen and settled down to open it, letting the baby play for now.
"Whoa, baby," Oz said, looking down at him. He looked at me, then at the baby again. "Not yours, right?"
"Xander's," I said gruffly. "Ask him tomorrow."
"Okay, got the hint," he agreed, going out to get more stuff.
Xander opened the bedroom door. "I thought I heard an Oz," he said, looking around.
"He's gettin' stuff," I said, heading out to go get him. When I came back, they were hugging. "Hey, not gettin' unpacked by itself."
"It'll keep in the boxes, but please put the food up." Xander pulled back, looking at Oz. "Why are you here?"
"I manage the interior crew, which you were supposed to be on today."
"They had me shifting blocks, which is totally painful."
"Ah." Oz pulled Xander over so they could look down at Tyler together. "Long story?"
"Willow went bad. Magical rape. Had him myself."
"Wow." Oz looked me over. "No wonder you took six months off work." He patted Xander on the butt. "Get to sleep, I'll fix the crew thing tomorrow." He waved at me and left.
"That's a nice surprise," Xander said, heading back to the bedroom. The door closed and I was left to once again finish unpacking the gear.
Xander looked up as his name was called, walking over to the big man who was standing in the doorway. "Yes, sir?"
"You're supposed to be outside."
"Oz told me to be in here. My other boss told me to be in here. And I can't lift those bricks, it's killing me. You have my medical excuse."
"Sissy," he sneered.
Oz cleared his throat. "The man went through six months of internal bleeding, he's tougher than you are. And he's supposed to be on my crew. Get your own idiots." The other man looked scared and practically ran off. "You okay?"
"Fine. Just a little sore. I still haven't built back up all those muscles yet." Xander shrugged and pointed at the wall I was working on. "It's not level."
"I figured as much. How far off?" He measured a distance. "Huh. Gonna have to have that fixed. Go run plumbing." He patted Xander's ass on the way past, nodding at the shocked look. "What?" he asked innocently.
"Um, okay," Xander said, heading in to do his assigned task. At least that's what he told me he did when he told me about that grope. Not much'a one, but it's the start.
I sat down at the table, watching those two make eyes at each other over their plates. "Oh, go for it," I said finally, leaning back to watch the shocked looks.
"Spike, I'm straight," Xander pointed out.
"Sure you are," I snorted. "Straight as a sunbeam. Been watchin' his arse, go shag 'im."
"It's more complicated than that," Oz tried. "Tyler and being the boss and all."
"What are you going to be doing after this job?" Xander asked, staring down at his plate.
"That kinda depends on where this goes," Oz said quietly. "Is Willow still in town?"
"Nope, in a mental ward. Her last touch of the powers drove her mad."
"After you caved in her head," I snorted, taking a sip from my mug of blood.
"Huh, another part of the Tyler story?" Xander nodded. "Coolness. What's that other girl like? I assume she's still around since the group could always use the help."
"Tara's a really nice girl," Xander told him. "She's a great aunt to Tyler. She's been really supportive of me. She even laughs when Tyler does mean things to Buffy. I like her. She's quiet and shy, but she's starting to really shine now that Willow's not around."
"Maybe we'll meet on better terms this time." Oz took a sip of his beer. "I'm coming back to Sunnydale, I asked the head boss. I'll have the second crew, not yours."
"Really?" Xander asked, looking happier. "Were..." he looked over at the baby. "Were you going to make it a permanent change?"
"Probably. I want to." Oz glared at me. "Go do something."
I laughed. "Sure I will. Just take the little creature with me, huh." I got up and grabbed the baby, heading into the bedroom.
"He's a pain," Oz told Xander, I was listening through the door.
"Spike saved my life, Oz. He's the one who found me bleeding and took me to the hospital. He even stayed while I was there and brought me back from breaking down once or twice."
Oz shrugged. "Okay, I can accept, but you need a bigger place."
"I was supposed to be getting some help paying for one instead of letting Tyler bother everyone here, but that got screwed up too," Xander said, tossing something onto the table. "I've already heard it from some of the guys who live nearby."
"You and Spike can come stay with me," Oz offered.
"Oz, that'll look bad," Xander said quietly.
"Not really. We went to high school together. The boss is going to fix your housing problem or the crew will revolt from lack of sleep." There was a noise too quiet to make out, some sort of shifting across the tablecloth. "I want you to come stay with me."
"Nope. But I will get my own place and we'll let you come visit."
Oz's sigh was loud. "All right. Slow. I can do slow."
"Oz, I need slow. I'm tired of rushing and being disappointed. I nearly got married because I wanted to make her happy, even though I was miserable for most of our time together."
"I know, but I deluded myself into thinking I was happy. She finally figured out that she wasn't and left. I need to not rush."
"Then we won't rush."
I heard the sound of a short kiss and then Xander called my name. "Hey, Spike, I need you to put him down. He's got to sleep or we never will."
I stuck my head out the door. "Already done. He's on your bed." I strolled past them, grabbing my duster on the way. "Gonna go find dinner." The door shut behind me and I took a deep breath. Oz would change things and then I'd be out in the cold again. Invited over, but not bein' there for the little tyke. I liked him, was going to corrupt him at an early age, but Oz wouldn't let that happen. The door opened behind me and Oz stepped out.
"I didn't hear you leave," he explained as he closed the door. "Spike, I'm looking for a mate," he said quietly. "Someone who understands. When I saw Xander, it all clicked into place. If you're part of that package, then I'll deal. As long as you two aren't together."
"Nah," I said, giving him a bright smile. "Not that way. I took care'a him, but we're not doin' anything. You heard him, he's straight."
Oz nodded. "Good. A three bedroom place it is. I'll get the stuff worked out tomorrow." He walked back in and shut the door.
I smiled and went on my way, knowing I was going to have to repack the car tomorrow and unload it all again. A room of my own sounded much better than a lumpy couch.
I looked down at the young man on the bed, giving him that same smile. "And the rest you know. They clicked on some primal level. Oz moved back into town and just showed up one night at the Magic Box with a sword. He tossed it to Giles and said he had found it. Then he announced his plans to take a mate, Xander, and your Aunt Buffy passed out. Aunt Tara stood up and gave him a hug. They figured out that it was all Willow and they become buddies. Even Giles eventually got over it."
"And I got a permanent, nighttime nanny," Tyler said from the bed. "Which was kinda nice. Though the corruption part was odd." He yawned. "Uncle Spike, why did I pounce that demon by myself?"
"Because you're a lot like your father," I said wisely, covering him back up. "Never listened enough to me. Nothin' with horns," I reminded him as I stood up. "Should go before that nurse comes back. You rest, we'll be at home." I walked out, leaving him to sleep the sleep of the demented, as anyone who would jump a seven foot demon by themselves obviously is. Or a Harris, one of the two. Wouldn't be sure which for a few more years yet, not until the kid was all grown up.