"It's just a mess," Fred said, shaking her head slowly. "I mean, doesn't she see what she's getting into? And how can she
do that to him? He's her friend, he deserves better than that!"
"Haley's not the sharpest knife in the drawer," Spike agreed, finishing his beer and opening another. "But Peyton's not doing
much better, you have to admit."
"I feel bad for Peyton," Fred said, frowning at the half-empty box of pizza. "Why did you order pepperoni if you're just
going to pick it off? Well, I feel bad for Haley, too, because this is all going to end in tears. But you know who I have
no sympathy for? Brooke." She made a face and waved her slice of pizza around wildly. "I hate Brooke."
"Oh, she's not so bad," Spike protested. "She's damaged, the poor thing. Don't pick on my girl Brooke."
"What on Earth is going on in here?" Wesley stood in the doorway of the TV lounge, staring at the pair sitting on the floor
in front of the couch. He looked uncertain if he should be confused, annoyed, or a special alloy of the two.
Fred and Spike stared at him blankly. "One Tree Hill pizza picnic, mate," the vampire said. "Like every Tuesday."
"Don't you remember, Wes? I invited you back in October or so." Fred held out a slice of pizza, but Wes remained at the
"No, I don't recall..."
"You said it sounded like any absurd, juvenile soap opera," Fred prompted. "On a third-rate network that specializes in vapidly
pretty actors and bad scripts."
"Which is precisely why we like it," Spike added.
"Oh...yes, I do remember now." Wesley blushed. "I didn't realize you were so fond of it, Fred."
"You mean you can't believe I'm still watching, and you're reevaluating your opinion of my intelligence," she laughed. Wes
went even more red.
"No-- certainly not-- I only meant--"
"It's okay, Wesley," she said with a grin, taking a sip of her beer. "It's purely an ironic appreciation, I promise."
"No, it's not," Spike said indignantly. "I'm really worried about those kids. Peyton's headed for a fall if she doesn't
get her head on straight, you mark my words." He wiped pizza sauce off his hands onto the blanket.
Wesley's eyes followed the motion and narrowed dangerously. "Might I ask where you got your picnic blanket, Spike?"
"Some cabinet on the fourth floor," the vampire shrugged. "Under a bunch of skulls and vases and such."
"Yes, those would be irreplaceable artifacts," Wes nodded. "And that is a priceless Na'anri burial shroud. Which you've
spilled pizza sauce on." He noticed Fred making a quick, guilty motion, and looked at the fabric next to her. "And beer."
"Oh." Spike picked up a corner of the blanket and studied it. "Dry-clean only, then, I guess?"
"Quite," Wes replied through clenched teeth.
"Wes," Fred said sweetly, scooting over and patting the blanket next to her. "I'm sorry. We didn't mean to ruin your shroud.
Why don't you come here and have some pizza? I bet you haven't eaten all day, have you?"
"I had a Power Bar at lunch."
"A Power Bar?" Spike's raised eyebrow spoke volumes.
"Gunn swears by them." Wes looked from Fred to the pizza and back. "But you two are watching your show."
"We've already missed bloody near half of it with your yammering," Spike muttered.
"It's okay," Fred said. "I'll download a torrent for us. Except that would be digital piracy and wrong. So I'll ask Lorne
to call the studio and get us a tape. It's no problem, Wes. Have some pizza."
He gave in and walked over to the blanket, studying it doubtfully for a space large enough to sit on. Spike rolled his eyes
and jumped to his feet.
"I'll leave you two to your snuggling, then. Mind the hickeys, Fred, love, Percy here's too fond of turtlenecks as it is."
"I know," she said. "I'm working on it."
"What's wrong with turtlenecks?" Wes asked, looking bewildered.
"Nothing, sweetie," Fred said, kissing him on the cheek. "Here, eat. And we can change the channel if you want. BBC America,
"No, no, that's a travesty," he said gently, reaching for a beer. "Is American Chopper on? I do love what they do
with the bikes."
"I think so," Fred said, meeting Spike's eyes over Wes's head with a small grin. Spike rolled his eyes and left the room.
"Hey, Spike. How's my favorite platinum pumpkin doing tonight? Headed out to fight evil?" Lorne snapped his cell phone closed
and reached out to take a stray pepperoni off Spike's jacket. "For shame, sugarplum, leather deserves better."
"It's a tough old coat," Spike said, popping and re-folding the collar. "And I wasn't heading out, just escaping the snuggle-fest
in there before I went into a diabetic coma."
Lorne blinked. "Can vampires do that?"
"Well. No. Figure of speech, mate," Spike said with a shrug. Lorne peered over his shoulder into the lounge and nodded
"Ohh, I see. Wes and Freddikins. Yeah, that's sweet enough to rot your fangs out."
Spike looked back into the room, where Fred was feeding Wes pizza and laughing softly. "Oh, somebody stake me. She has him
on a bloody leash."
"I don't think he minds," Lorne said. "There are worse people to hold your leash."
"True. I've met some of them." They watched for another minute. Fred said something and Wes smiled, reaching out to brush
her hair off her face. She caught his hand and held it in place, pressing her cheek into it. Lorne smiled; Spike looked
"Well. That's about enough for me," he said, looking down the hallway. "I heard about a Sex Pistols cover band playing downtown
tonight. Think I'll go give a listen, and if they're not going purely for camp value, I've a moral obligation to eat them.
I can say things like 'moral obligation,' because I've got a soul." He grinned. "Care to come along?"
"No thanks, sea breeze, I'm more a fan of Barbra Streisand than Johnny Rotten. But have a nice time." Spike left in a swirl
of leather that would've made Liberace proud, and Lorne watched the scene in the lounge for a few more minutes.
Wes and Fred were leaning back against the couch now, beers in hand, snuggled up tightly against each other with her head
on his shoulder. They were watching TV, where the boys from Orange County Choppers were
putting together a bike that probably could've been used to single-handedly break the seige of Stalingrad. Lorne made a mental
note to get them each an autographed hat or something. Danny would know who to call.
"Goodnight, kids," he said, leaning in the doorway. Wes started and went to pull away from Fred, to a more decorous distance,
but she just smiled and gripped him tighter.
"Have a good sleep, Lorne," she said. "No less than eight hours, no." She gave him a stern look, and he mock-saluted.
"Yes, ma'am. She's the boss lady, isn't she, Wes?"
Wes just nodded, his smile small and purely delighted. Pyleans didn't attribute feelings to the heart, but Lorne's liver
positively swelled with joy at seeing their document expert so happy. And Fred looking like she'd won the lottery and bought
a fudge shop.
"Can you call the WB and get a copy of tonight's One Tree Hill, Lorne?" she asked. "They're clients, aren't they?"
"Yes, but no need, sweetie. I TiVo'd it. But I can get you lunch with Chad Michael Murray, if you want."
She sat upright, mouth falling open. "Really?"
"Would I joke about such a thing, sugar pea?"
"Chad Michael Murray, hmm? I see." Wes pretended to pout over his beer. Fred took his face in her hands, looking
into his eyes seriously.
"He doesn't speak Latin," she said. "I couldn't possibly be with a man who doesn't speak Latin."
"What about Gunn?" Wes asked, unable not to point out such an obvious flaw in her argument.
"Wesley," she said firmly, giving his head a little shake. "Shut up. Kiss. Now."
That was as clear a signal to drop the curtain as Lorne had ever heard, so he quietly took his leave, closing the door behind