What of Andrew, 'Bots and Blondes?
"I was hoping you'd be home," Tara said sweetly.
"Such as it is," Xander said, swinging the door open and waving her in.
"You're looking good." Tara came in and found a chair.
"I don't know what to make of that. They're not my looks." He took a seat on the edge of his bed. The basement room was immaculate. Being a virtual shut-in, Xander had little else to do but clean.
"How's your mom handling it?"
Xander smiled. "Funny thing is, she hasn't seen me. She's probably glad I've been invisible for once. I was concocting some stories, but other than responding to the notes she leaves me with my notes, I don't think I'll have to communicate with her at all."
Tara's eyes took in the sparkling basement. "You've made it real nice in here."
"Thanks." Xander looked at the floor.
"Willow got her hair done."
"Yeah, she looks totally like Colin Farrell now. But she's plucking her eyebrows thin, trying to get her own style going."
Xander shrugged and smiled.
"Look, why don't we get out of here? There's a big bright world out there calling you."
"Okay, you're right. But how about a piping hot cup of coco at the Java Hut? My treat."
From Xander's somber coil flamed an ember of interest. "Yeah, I could use a little liquid happiness. Maybe a donut."
He grinned. Why not? I'm skinny, I may as well take advantage of myself."
"I'm for that!"
Xander threw on his new boots, his gray hooded jacket, and was ready.
Tara pulled the hood off as he passed her in the doorway. "Beauty should be shared, Xander, even if you think it isn't you."
Xander started to replace the hood, but paused to consider this. He locked his door and tossed back his flowing black hair. "Yeah. When in Rome."
Tipton's in the mall was a throwback to the videogame craze of the 'eighties. The arcade featured such anachronistic diversions as Pac Man, Asteroids and Dig Dug; there was even a row of pinball machines. The latest in video technology also graced the walls and aisles, everything to coax the local videots' quarters and dollars from their fertile pockets.
Warren had all the games he desired at home - widescreen, Dolby sound, primo graphics. Still, he dropped a twenty or so at the place from time to time, busting it old school at a stand up console. Keeping it real.
Andrew had searched for him at his house and at the computer store. Coming up short, he went to Tipton's, and for once the third did prove the charm.
"Warren, I'm glad I found you. I -"
"Uh!" Warren snapped a warning hand out and brought it back to the firing button with speed that would impress a gunslinger. No matter, his triangle ship got demolished by asteroids.
"I'm sorry dude, I … were you close to high score?"
"What do you want?" Warren demanded, impatiently tapping out his initials on the high score screen. Andrew saw he was at third place.
"I want a favor, Warren. I - I need a favor."
"Yeah?" Warren felt in his pocket and shrugged. "You saved me a couple bucks anyway. I'm through here."
The two youths walked out but before Andrew could speak Warren spied a hot dog vendor and hurried to his cart. "Hey, you said you want a favor? Pay for my lunch."
"No problem," Andrew agreed, watching in dismay as Warren ordered three of the footlongs, directing the vendor to top them high and expensively.
"None for me," he said, and Warren waved at him derisively. Of course, he wouldn't have thought of me, Andrew realized.
They sat on the edge of a fountain where Warren could smash bite after bite of loaded dog into his mouth.
"S'wha y'want," Warren smuffed.
"I need to borrow your 'bot, dude."
Warren chortled through his nose. He swallowed and swilled some cola. "My anatomically correct 'bot?"
Warren winced comically and shook his head, cramming in more dog with kraut and peppers.
"What're you insinuating?" Andrew demanded. "I just want to borrow him."
"Wy'oo wonnum?" Warren splorked.
"I need him for a trick. Don't talk with food in your mouth."
Warren swallowed so hard he had to pound his chest, jaws clenched in pain.
"Aw sick, you hafta chew, man." Andrew picked up the cola and handed it over. "Wash it down."
Warren managed to get his passages cleared. "Thanks Mom," he sighed, and mashed the rest of the first dog into his face. Andrew averted his eyes. "Ah gitchoo duh 'bot'n abud a wyk."
"Can I get 'im quicker?"
Warren shrugged, his overstuffed mouth trying to masticate its payload.
Andrew gave in. "I'm laying a curse on somebody."
Warren slurped soda into his oral trash compacter.
Andrew sagged. "It's on a guy named Rupert Giles, owner of The Magic Box."
Warren spat out the moist remains of his mouthful. Andrew recoiled from the chunks that struck him wetly. "Why didn't you say so? I hate that Limey. It's just a prototype, y'know, but you can borrow it, sure. Come on."
He jumped up and sped toward home base. Andrew hesitated, then picked up the other two hot dogs and the soda. He called wait up, and trundled after his friend.
Buffy's head lay wearily on the dinner table.
"Come now, um, Buffy, sit up and eat." Joyce tapped her shoulder sternly."So creepy," Dawn said under her breath.
"Mom, you heard that."
"Yes, um, Buffy. Dawn - you need to support your sister in this, um, awkward time. Drop the attitude, okay?"
Dawn spooned pasta into her mouth, shrugging almost imperceptibly.
Buffy pushed some food with her fork. She rubbed her chin and huffed, "More beard again. My face is like, Wolfman Jack or something. How do men handle it?"
"Sweetheart," Joyce said patiently, "men have to shave every day. Just pretend it's your legs."
Buffy's expression brightened to ecstasy. "Gee, thanks Mom. All better. Whee."
Joyce spread her hands helplessly. "We're all having a hard time with this, sweetheart. It won't last forever."
The doorbell rang, and Joyce held up a hand and rose to answer it.
"I don't know about that," Buffy muttered. "It's been a week already."
Dawn said, "Maybe you'll never change back."
"What, that's what you were thinking, right? Gawd, don't lookit me like that Buffy, it's creepy."
"Hmm, that's okay. Say something."
Buffy looked at her. "What?"
"Say something like, 'I'm Captain Jack Sparrow'. Say it like Johnny Depp."
Buffy dropped her fork and got up.
Just as Joyce returned with Spike.
"Buffy," Joyce said unnecessarily, "it's, um, Spike."
"Mom, can you drop the 'um' before our names. Please. I know it's weird, but I feel creepy enough …"
Spike made a sympathetic gesture toward Joyce. "She's been a wuss over this all week. Not to worry, she'll feel better after some patrolling."
Buffy opened her mouth, but just exhaled. "Let's go."
Buffy remained sullenly quiet for the first hour, and Spike just smoked.
"You know," he said, breaking the silence, "I do favor the bird. Marilyn Monroe. Saw her recently on the telly, AMC. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Pretty hot one, that. Y'know, she'd be considered fat nowadays, but she had a nice figger. Hourglass shaped, kind of nice. When I was a lad, plump women were the thing.
"Except I didn't go for that. I liked me marys to be fit, and angular."
"Spike," Buffy said impatiently, "I can't take this. You have some hard stuff?"
Spike gaped, uncomprehending.
"Liquor, Peroxide Patty, I want alcohol. You got some?"
Spike pulled out his flask. "Have some gin. I got plenty at home."
Buffy took a slug. She blew her breath out from the corner of her mouth, and smiled. "Wow."
She took another swallow and hissed. "This feels different."
Spike reached for the flask. "You make it look tasty."
Buffy held the flask up, out of his reach. "Hold on, you're always tippling. It's my turn."
"It's a word. Look it up." Buffy tipped the flask onto her lips again.
"I know it's a word, been around longer than I have. Just funny you using it, all stodgy and like.
"Let's go by my digs and stoke up on the happy juice."
Buffy gazed levelly at him. "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, huh?"
Spike touched his hair uncertainly.
Buffy wasn't sure if she'd just referenced Spike, herself, or the movie.