Do You Hear What I Hear

He heard a crunch, then a thump, followed closely by two softer thumps. A crinkle which wasn't expected but not suspicious, then a clang and a soft curse which was mildly worrisome. He didn't look up, however, because that would give himself away and there were much more worrisome things in the world than wondering what the 'clang' was about.

Xander carefully kept his eyes focused on the sword in his hands, trying not to let his grip shift. All he needed now was to drop it when the vampire attacked.

"Xander!"

He managed not to jump, despite being surprised by the loud, sudden voice -- despite *knowing* there was going to be a loud sudden voice yelling his name in just that exact tone. He looked up, blinked as though utterly confused, then reached up and took the headphones off.

Jennifer Lopez was reduced to a tinny, muted blur of music as the headphones fell onto, then bounced off of, the table. Xander ignored them, keeping his attention instead on the aggravated vampire standing before him.

"What?" Xander prompted, when Spike just kept standing there.

"Shh! I've almost got it." Spike titled his head a bit, and Xander saw his lips start to move. Spike was frowning -- then all of a sudden his face cleared and he rolled his eyes. "Oh, for god's sake. I thought I hide those albums."

"Spike? Are you being intentionally strange, or is this a new and exciting form of sleep-walking?"

Spike gave him a bewildered-but-not-really look. "I'm not asleep. I was *trying* to watch telly, and I could barely hear the show over your caterwauling. Came over here to ask you nicely to shut your mouth."

"Caterwauling?" Xander set down the sword he'd been sharpening -- weekly weapons-check ritual. He pointed at Spike with the polish rag, knowing that the stench would be more threatening than the shiny metal object that wouldn't actually turn a vampire to dust. "I was *not* caterwauling. I might not be able to carry a tune, but I was very thoughtfully singing quietly so you could hear your stupid soap opera."

"It's not *stupid*," Spike began, then he stopped and glared. "And that was the *problem*."

Xander had to stare at Spike for three seconds before his brain determined that in fact Spike was making no sense.

It used to take him five seconds, but Xander had noticed that his brain was getting better at the Spike-translator. As long as he didn't speak British. Even years of listening to Giles hadn't prepared Xander for understanding Spike when he spoke British.

"What?" he demanded, when Spike didn't actually explain, or even offer something non-explanatory. He jabbed the polishing rag at Spike, reminding him that Xander was not unarmed.

With a sigh and another eye roll, Spike pointed at the headphones. "I couldn't hear the music. All I could hear was you...moaning and howling and making screechy sounds."

"So turn up the volume on the tv."

With a stubborn glare, Spike said, "I couldn't figure out what you were singing!"

Xander found himself staring at Spike for much longer than three seconds. Much longer than five, even. He knew exactly what Spike was talking about, but it was taking all of his self-control to not burst out laughing. "You...couldn't hear the music. And so you're complaining?" Because who had made him wear the headphones in the first place, because his precious show was on? Who whined and threw things and stormed off to watch the show in the bedroom, door shut and barricaded behind him if somebody else didn't shut up while he was trying to watch?

"D'you have any idea how annoying it is?" Spike looked aggrieved, as though someone had slandered the entire race of soap opera watchers.

"Er...no, I hadn't. But - thanks for telling me." Xander gave him what should have looked like an apologetic grin. Annoying, was it?

He wondered if it was more annoying than Spike coming to bed with cold feet and sticking them under someone *else's* legs to get warm.

He added it to his list of Things To Do To Spike, and went back to polishing the sword.