NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: Mutant Enemy, etc, not mine. No profit garnered ever. Thanks to tigs. Written for the Friendship Ficathon for Vixen who requested Sharing an apartment together, post-Chosen, staying up all night, talking about relationships.




NOT A DAY OF RUE


Xander leans against the wall and smiles. "You know what I like about living with you?"

Buffy snorts and mutters, "Not the bathroom arrangements, if I heard your whining this morning correctly."

"Okay, seriously, you can't expect me to wait twenty minutes in the morning and then be confronted by your lacy things hanging all over the shower. That's more than any man should take. Any man not married or dating you." It's been long enough that he says that part easily. He's old and over her. In that way. "But what I like about living with you is that when you decide to rearrange the living room, you do it all yourself."

She pushes the sofa into the corner. "It's got better flow now. Don't you think?" She hops into the sofa and puts her feet up on the coffee table. "I like it."

He sits next to her and grabs the remote. "It's great. It's not that different from three hours ago, but it's great. So what do you think, lame horror movie starring washed up TV stars or CSI?"

"Which episode of CSI?" And she's up again. Xander will never get used to the boundless energy that is the Slayer. Lucky for him, she comes back with snacks and pop.

"It's the one where the guy dies and there's this really gross part."

She pokes him, much too hard, and says, "Helpful. See if ER is on."

"Oh, come on, that's just some guy dying with a really gross part and sometimes George Clooney. I prefer CSI for my late-night reruns, frankly."

"I prefer ER and I moved all the furniture." She takes the remote and changes the channel. "Didn't you have plans for tonight? Plans that included a date or something?"

"You'll never guess what happened."

"She was a demon?"

"You are so psychic. I found out at lunch, though, so tonight's date was called off on account of junior Slayer beheading her. She swore she really liked me, though." Xander tries for the remote but Buffy holds it away from him. It's a George Clooney ER rerun so he's doomed.

"The junior Slayer? And you shouldn't call her that."

"No, the demon really liked me. The junior Slayer is all of sixteen years old and I feel pretty okay calling her that. I've been fighting demons way longer than she has."

"And dating them just as long." Buffy steals the chips from him. It's a constant trial, living with her.

"Hey. Before tonight's demon, there was a stretch of genuine human girls there."

"But some of them were kinda crazy." Buffy passes the chips back. "No offense."

"People in glass houses, etcetera, etcetera."

She just shrugs.

They don't talk during the rest of the episode. It's a companionable silence. Xander and Willow were always talking, but back when they would hung out every day, Xander was a teenager. And Anya liked to hear herself talk so there was never much silence there. Xander liked to hear her talk, too. He hung with people who didn't talk much, or he used to. Oz gave quality silence. It's something to regret, another log on that fire.

Maybe they're just old. As the credits run and Buffy starts flipping through channels looking for something else to watch, he says, "We're old. You know that, right?"

Buffy grins. "We've reached the ripe age of 25. Officially old. I feel good about it, frankly."

"As well you should, what with the Slayer gig usually not lasting that long. But really, 25. Saturday night and you rearranged the living room furniture and now we're watching TV. Which is pretty much what we're going to do all night, isn't it?"

"It's my plan. And you know, I've had enough excitement. Next week for I'll look for excitement. This week I look for something decent on TV." She wiggles her slippers like they're in agreement. They're bright pink. Oddly enough, a gift from Andrew.

"You have a hot date next week? Another vampire? Another guy casting a big spell to make us all think he's the greatest thing since rotisserie chicken? Or maybe a nice guy who turns out to be a Marine working for a crazy lady." He pokes her, not as hard as she'd poked him during the moving phase. He knows better than that.

"Ha ha ha. I was speaking metaphorically. Or something. Like, next week. Let it all happen next week. Let's live in the now. I'm a big fan of now now." She grins. "You know?"

Xander thinks of Anya and Cordelia suddenly. Never going to be 25. He says, "I think now would be better if there were, if certain people were here. But now's still pretty good."

She pats his knee and sits forward. He knows the knee pat is her way of saying she misses people, too, and she misses the people he misses. It's a thing he knows about her, about the way she is. "Ooooooooh, and we have Clueless. We have achieved Clueless. Is there a finer movie, do you think? Because if you did, you'd be totally wrong." She grins at the screen.

He gets up for a beer and brings her a bottle of wine and they don't talk through Clueless either. Xander doesn't talk. Buffy recites lines and drinks her wine straight from the bottle, though she only drinks about a glass worth.

She actually hands him the remote after the movie ends. Xander clicks on the info thingy and sees that next up is some movie where he's pretty sure Kirsten Dunst is naked. And that's worth a watch. Buffy says, "Is it too late to call Dawn?"

"Yes. Remember the speech?" Xander tucks the remote by his arm, away from her. He'll probably have to wait for the nudity.

"What speech?" She tries to look innocent.

"The speech she gives you every week about how she's ready to be a grown-up and she's now in college and even if you did move all the way back to California and ten miles from her college, she is now living on her own. Which, just to note, she gives you every week because she's here every week." Like he doesn't say this every week. Darned Summers girls and their close sibling relationship.

"I just worry. And hey, you came here, too. You were all, yay, let's move to San Francisco! Let's have fun there." She sits back and plays with her hair. "I just want to make sure she's not acting all crazy, doing drugs or dating boys or something."

"She's definitely dating boys. She's definitely not doing drugs. You raised her up right and all is well. Now if only we could get Wally and the Beaver to behave, we could rest easy at night."

She looks over at him. "Did you ever actually watch Leave It To Beaver? Cause I haven't and I still think Wally and the Beaver were the same person. Also, are we just watching this movie because you think that blonde girl is going to get naked? Cause I think you're wrong about that. And it sucks."

He reaches for the remote. "Are you sure about the lack of nudity? I swear there was nudity. And Wally and the Beav were friends. One of them is Marilyn Manson's father. Or Marilyn Manson. Or died in Vietnam. That I'm sure of."

"Xander," she says, a little testiness sneaking in there. "Change the channel. There's no nudity. I want something that doesn't suck. Or sucks in a way that entertains. Plus, you're the one who's all old and mature, you should be choosing things to watch that reflect that."

"I'm not that old. I'll never be too old to want to see the boobies." He smiles and changes the channel.

"Wouldn't that be a day of rue. Not caring about the boobies." She pokes him, again too hard, and says, "Stop here, this is a good episode."

"Of what?"

"Of something. I missed a lot of TV back in the day, you know. What with the patrolling and vampires and the lousy cable package in Sunnydale."

"Don't I know it. Didn't even get Soapnet." Xander tries to figure out what's going on, but he's already lost. Pretty people whining, he's got that part.

"Maybe this is what it's like being old. Catching up on TV, bothering little sisters, thinking about how, really, I'll never get to date Jude Law."

"That's what I'm thinking about right now, minus the TV, the little sister and Jude Law. But I am thinking right now that I will never date Pamela Anderson."

Buffy sighs and pats his arm. "We're old. Decrepit. It's awful. But shouldn't it actually suck? I'm actually kind of enjoying it. You know? Being old. Knowing the bills are paid, things are okay, not even worrying about spending Saturday night with a good friend."

"It's wacky. Whatever happened to the wacky? Remember that, like in high school? Hey, someone's building a Frankenstein girl out of dead cheerleaders? Remember that?" Xander reaches for another beer. Which is a plus of being old. Beer when you want. Except now it's just beer. No thrills.

"That was actually not so much wacky as tragic. Frankly, I don't miss wacky that much. I mean, wacky. What is that?" She gets up and bless her, comes back with a beer for him. Even without the thrills, beer is still good. She says, "I like being old. Because really, 25 isn't old. Giles is old. We're entering the good times." She puts the beer down on his knee where it's very very cold. He snatches it from her.

"Good times! Good, I don't remember that theme song."

"You're very retro tonight. Have you been watching Nick at Nite when I'm not here?" She grins again. He likes that about Buffy in her old age, how she smiles more and with more ease.

"Well, between your patrolling and your spiffy job, I have the remote whenever I want and yes, there has been some Nick at Nite and some TV Land. I like to call it entering the good times."

"I patrol three times a week, Xander. This town is lame. Big, but lame. And my spiffy job is being a receptionist. Which, actually, I really like. It's pleasantly boring."

"Which you've said before and I therefore went with spiffy. Spiffy. Spiffy is a funny word." The wisdom of beer.

"You think your job is spiffy, right?" She sounds concerned. She's so sweet.

"It's fine. Management. I can dig it. Everything's fine. Shouldn't that be a sign of impending doom?"

"Or a sign that we're entering the good times. Not Giles old, but good old. No more Hellmouth to bring us impending doom when things are good. Now they're just good." She turns to him and flicks off the TV. "So good that I'm going to bed at midnight on Saturday night and loving it." She gets up and brushes chips off her pants.

"And I'm supposed to too, right? This is why you turned off my TV?"

"Yup." She's already in her room.

He checks the locks and cleans up all the dishes and bottles. "Everything's good," he says in the kitchen. He doesn't feel like everything's going to collapse just by saying it. Maybe 25 isn't so much old as good.

Then he thinks the wisdom of beer is draining him of the words since all he can think is good, good, good.

THE END.

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