Summary: These are the days we want to forget, and always remember.
AN: Just to continue the quote theme: “Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.” - Dr Seuss
Xander was confused, and desperately wishing he found drinking relaxing. He hadn't noticed it originally, in fact it had taken him almost four months in his new apartment before he even realised it was a possibility, let alone admitted that it was a fact. Yet here he was; hands elbow deep in cloudy water and his face still caught in the middle grin he'd given Carro when realisation set in. Something in his face must have clued in some of the other kitchen staff to his concerning realisation because Jophes, one of the other kitchen hands, had a hand on his shoulder and a worried face.
"Sorry, yeah, I'm fine. Just... having a moment, apparently." He said, waving away the concern and trying to focus on work.
By the time his dinner break rolled around he was exceptionally grateful for it, automatically thanking Vincent when the chef put another experimental dish in his hand and told him to eat up. Stopping for a moment he turned back to the demon.
"Hey Vincent, my first day you gave me a dish. Had umm... Somnay... Somni beans in it?"
"Yeah kid, remember that recipe, still trying to get it just right before I take it to Ronnie, why?" The demon asked.
"Oh it's just... I had this really weird dream that night. I was wondering if Somni beans would have had anything to do with it?" Parts of the dream still seemed too vivid not to have been encouraged by... something.
It had taken him a couple of days to realise the intent of that dream, but he eventually understood, and consequently understood Spike's sometimes prickly attitude as a result. Just thinking about it made him roll his shoulders to ensure there were no hidden tendrils of silicone and metal clinging to him.
"They're grown by these demons in Europe. Sometimes they'll help give people perspective. Nothing bad, just a step back to let you sort out whatever it is that's bugging you. Manifests for a lot of people in their dreams, since that's when they let their guard down. You want me to make you a broth?" Vincent was much like a Great Dane he'd seen once; he looked fierce as anything, but was actually a great big puppy. So long as you didn't mess with his sauces; the demon was scary when someone got their hands on his food.
"Yeah, that'd be great. Thanks."
Taking Vincent's latest creation he sat in the small staff room, still amazed that most of the ingredients that made up the meal on his plate couldn't be found by anyone who didn't have the right connections in the demon community, and even then only if they were lucky. Picking up his book he was soon engrossed;
These two very old people are the father and mother of Mr Bucket. Their names are Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine. And these two very old people are the father and mother of Mrs Bucket. Their names are Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina.
The Somni bean broth tasted vaguely like a cross between carrots and corned beef, and had a texture that suggested it should be slightly grainy, but wasn't. As he was drinking it he found himself appreciating two things; one, he had the next three days free and two, Spike was off doing whatever it was blond demons did in the pre-dawn hours. He and the vampire got on fairly well now days - though if Spike didn't stop using his towel soon he was going to need to do something drastic - but he was glad for a bit of time to himself, especially given his earlier realisation.
Broth finished, he soon found himself surfing through the ridiculous number of channels his house mate had gotten as part of the cable package - though how that cable came to be hooked up, Xander didn't know and didn't want to know.
He was dreaming again. For once he knew he was dreaming, though that didn’t really make anything that much clearer. He stood in front of his parent’s home looking at a Sunnydale without colour. It didn’t seem out of place at all, more like he had stepped into an old black and white movie. Looking down at himself he noticed spots of colour; his hands, his hair where it fell into his eyes and his shoes.
Making his way to the Magic Box he was glad he was dreaming as all it took was reaching the end of the street with the intention of getting to where he wanted to be and suddenly he was standing at the front of the shop. Taking another look around, he noticed he was still the only thing with any colour in his dreamverse.
In the Magic Box Buffy and Willow were debating over two shirts in almost identical shades of grey, the serious look on their face making it seem as though the matter was one of life and death. Given some of the things they’d needed to stop other apocalypses - or should it be apocalypsi, and just how many did you need to go through before that was a serious question - he couldn’t say for certain that it wasn’t, so left them to it. He found Giles indexing books on the top landing and raised a hand in greeting to the Watcher, smiling when a cup of tea appeared in the older man’s hand just long enough for him to toast Xander in reply.
Turning at the sound of the door chime he watched Spike stroll in out of the sun. He was so surprised by this fact that it took him a few moments to realise parts of the vampire were also in colour. His eyes were their normal blue, made brighter by the greyscale of his skin. The other man’s hands were also their ordinary colour, seemingly made more by the dark red polish on his nails. The only other spot of colour he was able to see was a mark in the hollow of the blond’s neck that looked like someone had taken two fingers dipped in paint the colour of his skin and smeared it on him.
Turning back to the other occupants of the shop he found Buffy, Willow and Giles all standing in a line, kind smiles on their faces. Confused he looked to Spike and found Vincent, Carro and a few other demons, also standing in a line. Each of them seemed to have one or two spots of colour smeared on them.
The shift from dream to waking was seamless, though still confusing. He was still on the couch where he’d fallen asleep, but there was a pillow shoved under his head and a blanket draped over his shoulders. Squinting in the direction of the kitchen he could only just make out the time on the microwave; 8:46am.
Getting up he veered off course just long enough to grab a glass of water before falling into bed. If he dreamt anymore, it was not with help from the Somni beans and he didn’t remember it.
Spike had already been up for a good hour or two before the brunet finally showed his head. Raising a mug in the universal symbol for coffee? he had to chuckle at the bleary attempt at a nod as the human shuffled further into the kitchen, digging out left over Chinese and throwing it in the microwave.
It hadn’t taken him long to realise that trying to get an intelligible sentence out of Xander before the boy had eaten was much like trying to get a Lorai demon to part with its gold; not going to happen. Picking up his blood he sprawled on the sofa and waited until the boy had downed at least half of his breakfast, in between inhalations of caffeine.
“Not like you to conk out so early.” He remarked lightly.
“Work was a bit full- on this week, and I didn’t sleep too well the night before last.” Nodding he took another mouthful of blood and waited; one thing he’d learnt early on was that given enough time Xander would speak up about whatever had been bothering him. Sometimes “enough time” was a minute, and others it was a week, maybe two.
“Mostly just had a lot of thinking to do, I guess.”
Again he nodded, sending the brunet a curious look.
“I love Buffy and Willow – and Giles in that manly guy way – and I understand the need for slayage, I don’t particularly want an apocalypse, and what is the plural of apocalypse anyway? Not really the point, but a pretty good question, don’t you think? Anyway, I know the demons we’ve killed have needed to be killed. Like with that Mara; I’m sure it’s only doing what’s natural, but it’s in our nature to protect ourselves too, and it was trying to snack on little kids, which, y’know, not cool.
But I guess I’m… worried. What if some of the demon’s we’ve killed are like Vincent, or Carro, or Ronnie? I’ve tried talking to Giles about it before but he’s steadfast on the kill-demons-train. Which, ok, makes sense too; because the last thing you want is Buffy questioning whether every demon she has to kill is good or bad, ‘cause hello-endless-guilt. I’m just… I can’t see things in black and white like they do, but they’re my… family.”
It wasn’t all that unusual for Spike to be surprised by the brunet; he had an uncanny knack for it. But he was well and truly thrown for a loop. Finishing his mug gave him a few moments to think but all too soon Xander was looking at him, not expecting anything, but hoping for some kind of direction.
“Right, who’s to say this is an either/or kind of deal? You don’t have to stand on their coat tails to love them, yeah? Family is all about differences of opinion. Don’t think I know one family - human or demon - who agree on everything.” While he was sure it wasn’t really the answer the human was after, it was the best Spike could do on short notice. “Now what say you whip us up a bunch of those brownies you made last week and we spend the day in front of the telly.”
AN: Credit to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl.