Man! challenge in a can Man!






Xander knew when he saw the house he had to have it. It was ridiculous, really. He was barely out of his teens, he had a fiancee turning into Bridezilla with wedding plans that involved horse-drawn carriages and doves and something called "tulle," and he had a perfectly good place to live already.

The house was a disaster, too. The paint was peeling and several windows were gone - not to mention the kitchen door - and he was positive the roof leaked and the wiring was exposed and the whole thing just needed a stiff breeze to send it crashing to the ground. It looked like a safe haven for rats and spiders and other less natural critters to nest.

In fact, he would bet good money that a vampire or two found the house as charming as he did. The thought nearly changed his mind. He didn't want to agree with any bloodsuckers on anything. No, thank you.

Except, he had to have it. The house called to him - and not in that I'm-possessed-and-murderous-and-want-to-eat-your-soul kind of way. It spoke to him of neglect and abuse and loneliness. It whispered in his ear about possibilities and wanting to be better if he only gave it a chance.

The house reminded him of him. He had to have it.

Anya would be furious. She'd tell him he couldn't afford it what with a reception hall to be booked and a seven-tier cake to be bought and orchids for each table centerpiece and all the bouquets and she couldn't pay for it all on her salary and how could he even think about buying a house right now when they were both so young and so unsure of their futures? She'd take one look at the pitiful heap of rotting wood surrounded by a half-acre plot of dirt with a few struggling patches of grass and weeds and tell him she'd rather live in Spike's crypt before she moved into that dump.

She'd be right. He'd nod and agree with her, then he'd ask her to close her eyes. She would look at him askance with that expression of quizzical amusement and exasperation she always gets when she thinks he's crazy, but she would comply.

He would take her hands and tell her about the living room with the enormous picture window that looked out on the quiet street and was partly shaded by a big elm that let filtered sunlight stream all the way to the corners. He'd tell her about the brick fireplace where they would build fires on those rare nights when it got cold enough in Sunnydale to need one.

He'd tell her about the big kitchen they could have once he knocked down that wall and turned the dining room into a breakfast nook. How many dinner parties would they need to have, anyway? He'd ask her to imagine their friends sitting at the table chowing on pizza and laughing over Dawn's latest chatty letter from her college in Los Angeles.

He'd come a little closer and tell her to think about their bedroom - king-size bed taking up most of the space because she flailed in her sleep but they didn't need room for a lot of other furniture because the bedroom was good for two things: sleeping and...

She would smile and blush a tiny bit and even with her eyes closed and still more than a little out of sorts with him she would press close to him and he would briefly wonder if she would mind the dirty floors so much because he couldn't imagine desiring her any more than he does right now as he spills out his dreams to her of their home and she listens.

He would tell her all of this and she would listen carefully but she wouldn't be convinced. She'd just be humoring him, waiting until he was done so she could talk him out of this crazy idea.

Then he'd put his arms around her and tell her he wanted this house for them, that he would spend every spare second between his job and patrolling with their friends and wedding plans fixing up this house so it would be worthy of her. He'd hold her tightly and tell her that when they get married he wants to carry her over a threshold that isn't his or hers, but theirs and he would do everything in his power to make it a place where she would want to spend the rest of her life with him.

And she would sigh dramatically and make noises about all the sacrifices she will have to make - dispensing with the twenty-foot silk train and the honeymoon in Fiji - but she would consent and he would know even without her saying anything that she felt the same burgeoning possibilities and excitement he did.

He hoped.

He smiled and shook the realtor's hand, thanking her for accepting his down payment in cash but he could see in her eyes that she was just relieved to have someone take the house off her hands and would probably have sold it to a serial killer.

Xander's smile widened as he went home to tell Anya about his day.

Xander. Desiring. Grass.

Man! challenge in a can Man!