The door opened with an angry creak and a dull thud as the knob struck the backing wall, and Ethan opened one eye to see what
was coming inside. He quickly shut it again.
"No need to get up," Rupert muttered, shifting the two grocery sacks in his arms and kicking the door closed again with one
heel. "Don't trouble yourself, I've got it all under control."
"I can see that," Ethan murmured peacefully, keeping his eyes carefully closed. "And I'm quite comfortable, so if it's all
the same to you..."
"Right." He could hear the eye-roll. He knew Rupert far too well. "Since you've been in that chair all bloody morning,
I would hope you're comfortable."
"Plan to stay here all bloody afternoon, as well."
"Not too much longer," and now the voice was coming from the kitchen; he could hear the thump of items being moved from the
sacks to the counter. "They'll be here in two hours."
"Worlds of time."
"I'll let you sit there for another ten minutes, and then you've got to either start tidying up or go get in the shower."
He opened his eyes for that, and cast a questioning glance at the kitchen door. "Who says I've got to take a shower?"
Rupert stepped over to the doorway, raising one eyebrow as he met Ethan's eyes. No chance of him backing down. Damn. "You're
going to have to shave and put on a clean shirt, not to mention do something with your hair, so you might as well shower,
"What's wrong with my hair?"
"Looks like the cat slept in it." He vanished back into the kitchen again. Ethan glared at the doorway for a moment, then
got up and follwoed him.
"Why should I get cleaned up for them? They hate me."
"Yes, but they're going to be scrupulously polite to you for my sake, and there's really no reason you can't do the same."
He frowned into the refrigerator. "What have you done with the milk?"
"Top shelf." He scowled at the open cookbook on the counter. "Chicken parmigiana? How terribly prosaic, Rupert."
"Dawn likes it." He shut the refrigerator and turned to face Ethan. "Which reminds me-"
"I know, I know." He raised his hands in mock-surrender. "It was just a joke, you know. Not my fault your little Slayer
doesn't have a sense of humor."
"I won't stop her this time, Ethan."
"You won't have to. I'll behave." He rolled his eyes. "I wouldn't have done it anyway. She didn't have to get her panties
in a twist over it."
"Yes, well, when a confessed Chaos worshipper starts talking about the kinds of spells he could do with a Key's energy..."
Rupert scowled into a cupboard. "I swear, all this stuff was here when I made my shopping list last night."
"I don't see why we have to have all of your kids round for dinner anyway. Couldn't they take us out for once?"
"They are. Tomorrow night." He produced the bottle of olive oil with a satisfied smile, which widened into a grin when he
glanced over his shoulder at Ethan. "And have I ever mentioned that you're adorable when you pout?"
"Not going to dignify that with a response." He held out the oregano before Rupert had to ask. "And you don't have to lecture
me about my behavior. When are you going to get around to trusting me, anyway?"
"I do trust you."
"Like hell. You wouldn't even let me name the cat."
"You wanted to name it Eyghon."
"Or Fyarl. I'm not picky." He scooped up the animal in question, a sour-faced black creature who was, despite Rupert's vigorous
denials, more than a little overweight. "Not something dull and pretentious like Kent."
"Suits him." Rupert reached over to ruffle the cat's fur. "Serious, dependable fellow that he is."
"Naming your cat with a King Lear reference. Showing off the degree you didn't earn." He shook his head and dropped the
cat to the floor. "You're putting on airs in your old age, my friend."
"I'll just ring up Roger Wyndam-Pryce and tell him to forget about your Christmas present, then. I'm sure he can find plenty
of buyers for an eighteenth-century printing of Marlowe."
"Oh, well, no need to be hasty." They grinned at each other for a moment. "Tidying up the parlor, you said?"
Rupert chuckled and went back to his cookbook. "At least pick up the magazines and run a cloth over the end tables."
"I'll even fluff up the pillows. Don't say I don't go the extra mile for your kids." He moved into the other room, calling
back. "Is the one with the legs coming?"
"You're going to have to be more specific."
"You know- the legs. The eyes. The hair. And all the leather."
"No, Faith's in Romania."
"It's Xander, Willow, Buffy, and Dawn."
"The little idiot's not coming?"
"No, I think you scared Andrew off for good last time." Rupert was trying for a stern tone, but not quite managing it. Ethan
could tell these things.
"Oh, what a pity."
"Sarcasm's not terribly becoming, you know."
"Ah, but it's my birthright as an Englishman. Does this look all right, then?"
Rupert came to the doorway, wiping his hands on a towel, and nodded. "Very good."
"Guess I'll go see what I can do about that shower, then." He arched an eyebrow significantly. Rupert rolled his eyes.
"When I'm done, will you come dress me?"
"Only if you're very good." He walked back into the kitchen. Ethan followed him.
"I'm the best thing you've got, Rupert."
He flicked the page in the cookbook and smirked. "Only if I don't count the cat."
"Ouch, a shot to the heart. Or excuse me, dear Watcher, a stake."
"It would take a bit more than that to slay you, I think."
"And that's why you love me."
He looked up then, and smiled as their eyes met. "Yes, it really is."