"...and the gum! Faith, it's incessant!"
"Uh-huh," Faith nodded, recognizing that her input wasn't really required, or even necessarily a part of the conversation at this point, but wanting to show her support.
Hazel was livid and given her flushed complexion, she'd been that way for some time. The younger girl wasn't even bothering to make eye contact with Faith as they walked; she mostly stared at something imagined as she ranted. They passed several other people in the hall, both Slayers and Watchers, who began to call out a greeting ... until they picked up on the danger vibe pouring off Hazel and wisely decided to simply go about their business. Quickly.
"It's not that I have anything against gum personally. Four out of five dentists recommend chewing it between meals, and who am I to question the wisdom of the ADA?" Shaking her hands as though she was itching to feel a neck between them, Hazel gritted her teeth. "But it's constant! An unceasing cacophony of smacking and chewing! A miasma of mastication, a—"
"You do know you lost me at 'coffee knees', right?" interrupted Faith.
Hazel ran a frustrated hand through her hair, which had no apparent impact on its perpetual unruliness, and sighed heavily. "It just never stops," she whined.
Ducking out of the way of a Watcher carrying an armload of books so high she could barely see where she was going, Faith said, "So to sum up: roommate sitch, not so hot."
"Judith's nice enough, I suppose," began Hazel with another sigh, "it's just that she drives me nuts!" The girl whipped her head around to Faith. "I did mention she only occassionally throws the gum away, right? Turns out the Blu-Tack on the wall? Not quite Blu-Tack." She shook her head sadly as she added, "I'll never look at Russell Crowe the same way again."
Faith hid a smirk as she shoved her hands into her jacket pockets. "This your first roomie?" she asked, discovering a long-forgotten pen. Pulling it free, she gave it a quick once over and then proceeded to twirl it around in her fingers as she walked.
The Junior Slayer shook her head. "I shared a room with my little sister for about six years, but when she used to irritate me, I just punched her and she stopped." Pausing to consider this, Hazel clarified, "Well first there was the crying and the tattling, but the stopping came eventually. I don't think that'll work with Judith, though. For many reasons, not the least of which being my fears for the condition of the rest of the building if we really got into it."
"Maybe you can threaten to steal her Barbie instead," suggested Faith, voice laced with sarcasm.
Hazel completely missed it. "Yeah, maybe! Do you think she brought any Barbies with her?"
Wisely choosing to let it slide, Faith decided to try more straightforward advice. "You can always ask Giles for a dorm switch, y'know. He's pretty big into keepin' the place with all four walls, so he probably won't mind."
"I thought of that after the first couple of days, but then it hit me. Two girls." Hazel held up the appropriate number of fingers to emphasize her point. "The first: cute, perky, kinda smart in all the best non-nerdy ways, bubbling with youthful enthusiasm—"
"—raging ego, anal retentive—"
"–doesn't interrupt when others are talking ..." countered Hazel, raising her voice to drown out Faith. "Your standard sweet girl." She flashed her most saccharine smile at her companion, who remained entirely unmoved. Hazel continued, unconcerned, "Then you have the other: loud, oafish, extremely troubling oral fixation, and, yes, a much better music collection. You know what this is?"
Faith spun the pen around one finger, managing to somehow defy gravity and keep it from falling. "Another bad "Odd Couple" remake?" she offered.
The younger girl snatched the pen away, flipping it in the air and catching it solidly in her hand. "It's a competition. She's testing me. She wants me to leave." Hazel grinned and jabbed the pen at Faith before tossing it back. "But I won't give her that satisfaction. I can take anything she can dish out."
Regarding Hazel for a moment, Faith admitted, "I was gonna coach you on bein' immature but, y'know," she smirked, "I'd do the exact same thing."
Hazel beamed proudly. "How about you, no Roomie from Hell stories to share?" she asked, not wanting to completely dominate the conversation.
"The advantages of Slayer seniority. Just me, myself and I, an' we're all five by five." Faith was concentrating on making the pen "walk" across her knuckles and nearly dropped it when she jumped at Hazel's exclamation.
"That was it! I couldn't remember what you said! Ugh, it's been drivin' me nuts for weeks!" With a sidelong glance, Hazel frowned, "'Five by five' ... what does that even mean?"
"It means ... y'know ... " Faith searched for the right words to explain the phrase. "Five by five," she said after several seconds had passed, frowning at her limited vocabulary.
Her companion didn't seem to hold it against her however, and Hazel chuckled. "Okay, 'Fiver'."
Faith's head swung towards the other girl. "What'd you call me? It better not be somethin' I'm gonna have to kick your ass for." The warning in her voice was only half joking.
Eyes growing wide, Hazel was quick to defuse the situation. "What? No! No, I said 'Fiver'. It's a character, you know, from a book. One of my favorites. It's called Watership Down, and it's all about these rabbits and their journey to find a new warren and—" Noticing Faith's disinterested stare, Hazel moved on. "Anyway, Fiver's one of the rabbits in the book. He's Hazel's little brother, actually, and since I'm Hazel and you have this weird 'five' thing going ..." She looked down at her feet, embarrassed. "I dunno, I thought it was cute. I won't do it again, though."
After a moment's pause to consider this new information, Faith shrugged, the faintest twinge of a smile on her lips. "Nah, it's cool. I been called worse." The twinge grew into a full-blown grin at Hazel's obvious pleasure. "Little brother, though?" she queried.
"Well you have to admit," replied Hazel, "it loses some charm the other way."
Passing a closed door on the left, their conversation was interrupted by the sound of a muffled explosion. Faith and Hazel glanced at each other, then Faith banged on the door, noticing the wisps of white smoke starting to curl from behind the door.
"Yo, everythin' five—" She caught herself, smirking at Hazel before correcting, "Everythin' okay in there?"
"Yes!" both Willow and Giles snapped in union, both voices strained.
Faith backed away slowly from the door. "Oooookay then."
Without a glance back, she and Hazel slunk down the hall.
Coughing, Giles flung open the window, trying to air the room of the billowing smoke. Willow was lying on her back in the center, arms and legs spread at random angles as though she had simply flopped down and not cared much where they landed. Remnants of a spell were scattered around the room, discarded and forgotten for the moment.
"I'm a terrible witch," Willow moaned dejectedly.
A flash of annoyance crossed Giles' face. "Would you please stop saying that, you are not a terrible witch."
Willow raised her head just enough to see the Watcher. "It was a locator spell, Giles. A simple, 'I've done this a thousand times what's one more?' locator spell." Her eyes cast around the room, taking in the smoke. "The only thing we located here was the nearest exit." She let her head fall back to the floor. "I suck."
Sighing, Giles squatted down next to Willow. She glanced at him sadly, but didn't move.
"Willow, you are going through something ... extraordinary. The power you tapped to awaken the Slayers was far beyond anything you had done before." With an amazed chuckle, Giles removed his glasses and began cleaning them. "It's beyond anything anyone has done before. I-It's completely understandable that your power levels would be off-balance as a result. You have, in a short span of time, harnessed and controlled two diametrically opposed forces. You shouldn't expect to have complete control." He replaced his glasses, regarding Willow seriously. "Frankly, I'd be more concerned if you did."
His words did little to make the redhead feel better. "But it's sooo frustrating!" she exclaimed. "I mean, you want an army of vampires incinerated, I'm your girl. 'Course I might take you and half the country with them, but hey – mission accomplished, vamps are flamey dust." Willow waved her hands in the air before dropping them back to the ground where the landed with a slap. "But I can't even float a pencil any more. I used to be so good at floating pencils," she pouted.
"We'll get there," Giles reassured her gently, placing his hand on her shoulder. "Give it time."
"Stupid time," the witch grumbled. She sat up suddenly and Giles retracted his hand. "You know what I really hate about this? The fact that we're just flyin' blind. I mean, if nobody's ever really gone through this before ..." Willow glanced up a the ceiling, searching for the right way to phrase her thoughts. "I-It's like I have this huge test, but I can't study for it because nobody bothered to write a textbook."
"Yes, I suppose it is rather like that," agreed Giles.
Willow's eyes grew wide and panicked. "But- But what if I don't pass!" she cried. "I mean gettin' a 'B' would be bad enough, but we're talking about me sneezing and sending North America to an alternate dimension! A-And then not even being able to do a locator spell to find out where I put it!" Her voice became bitter as she motioned to her head, adding, "Oh, an' let's not forget the optional black-or-white hair accessory! Take your pick which one we'll see today, cuz I sure as heck don't know!"
"Willow ..." Giles interjected firmly. She sighed and flashed him an apologetic glance.
"It would at least be nice if my hair color changes could make up their mind," she muttered, much calmer but clearly every bit as frustrated. "I'm like some weird monochrome rainbow."
Amused by the image, Giles smiled. "Time. Patience. The spells you did to awaken the powers within you were tremendous. Wi-With the scythe and the ..." He trailed off, reluctant to put the events into words. "The other," he finally settled on, "you channeled the power, pointed it in the right direction an-and then simply let it go. It's not at all surprising that your ... 'control muscles', if you will, are atrophied. Letting loose with everything one has is easy; paring it down, as you've discovered, is the difficult part."
He returned his hand to Willow's shoulder, gripping it tightly and letting his confidence in her show through. She looked at him hopefully. "Difficult," he repeated, "but not impossible."
With a deep breath, Willow nodded and Giles stood up to refresh the necessary spell supplies. He pulled out a fresh map of the town from a nearby stack of fifteen or twenty and placed it in front of the redhead.
"All right, now let's try again," he instructed.
Willow settled back into position, breathing deeply and steadily, trying to relax and find her center. Giles studied her, moving across the room to lean against wall, giving her plenty of space to work.
In the hallway, a passing Watcher dropped the folder he was carrying in alarm when he heard the muffled sound of an explosion coming from behind the door.
Dawn and her friends had commandeered a shady section of the school's front lawn. They sat in a circle, stealing little bits of each other's lunch as the mood to sample struck them.
"I can't believe you've never had Meghan over to your house!" Brenda admonished Dawn.
Meghan nodded, a look of exaggerated pain on her face. "Yeah, I'm startin' to feel all left out here."
"Oh, that is so not fair," Dawn protested. "I've asked you over dozens of times."
"Twice, I think," corrected Meghan, grabbing a small handful of Virginia's grapes.
"Which is two more than never," she insisted. "It's not my fault you and your dad are always off doing your dirt bike thing."
With a shrug, Meghan relented, clearly accepting some sacrifices had to be made in the interest of life's finer things. "I still say you guys should come with us some time. There's nothing like it." Her eyes took on a far-away gaze.
The others all shared a look that indicated this 'spacing out' occurrence was a regular one.
Jackie in particular was unimpressed as she rolled her eyes. "Thank god for that. Why would you want to do something that leaves no question about how filthy you're gonna get?" She ignored Meghan's death-glare as she munched on a carrot stick. "I'd much rather spend my weekend on more civilized pursuits."
"Like seeing how far you can shove that stick up your—"
"Dawn's house is the coolest!" Brenda hurriedly interrupted Meghan, her smile overly large and forced but holding up under the weight of the other girl's glower. "It's huge! And there's this giant field behind it, and a stream and—"
Virginia bounced in place, attracting everyone's attention. "And Xander," she enthused. "You have to meet Xander. He's just about the funniest most awesome guy in the entire world." Turning to Dawn, the little blonde practically swooned. "You're so lucky to live with him. Do you ever ... you know ..."
Dawn's eyes got impossibly huge and she choked on the Coke she was drinking, nearly spluttering it on her friends. Managing to compose herself, she shuddered with revulsion. "EW! EWWWWWWW! With Xander?! Oh my god, that's like ... " She fumbled for a word expressive enough to voice her disgust, finally setting on another, "EWWWW!"
Her friends burst into laughter, but Virginia simply sat and looked at Dawn in complete confusion, her sandwich hovering halfway to her mouth. "But he's—" she began.
"He's Xander," emphasized Dawn, as though this should be sufficient explanation for any sane person. "He's like my brother."
Unable to let such a golden opportunity pass her bye, Brenda leaned over to her flabbergasted friend. Her voice low, she probed, "So you never once thought about you and him...?"
Squirming under all the attention, Dawn looked quite sick. "Are you trying to make me barf up my lunch? Never. No way ..." Her eyes darted around nervously and she refused to meet anyone's gaze. "Not since I was fourteen. Fifteen at the latest."
The girls leapt upon this new tidbit of gossip with a shark-like feeding frenzy. Questions started flying from all directions until Jackie finally broke through the mayhem.
"Guys! Let's save some stuff for tonight, huh?" She grinned evilly. The others quickly echoed it.
"Anyway," Dawn said a bit too brightly, anxious to change the subject to something besides her younger teenage fantasies, "Xander won't be there. He's going out."
Virginia's face fell at this news. "No Xander? But ... but I was specifically counting on Xander-time. I bought a new nightshirt and everything." Her lower lip jutted out in definite pout formation.
Dawn was unable to completely hide her hurt at Virginia's words, but she swiftly recovered and no one seemed to notice. "Nope, no Xander," she confirmed. "No Willow or Kennedy either. We've got the whole house to ourselves! Until ten or eleven or so, anyway."
This time it was Brenda who was disappointed by Dawn's news. "Willow's going too? I-I was hoping she could maybe ... talk to us about magic."
Raising her eyebrow, Meghan regarded Brenda. "Magic? Like card tricks?"
"Nah," replied Jackie, stealing the last of Virginia's grapes. She ignored the glare the smaller girl flashed her. "Willow's big into Wicca. Full-blown witch stuff, right Dawn?"
Not particularly inclined to spend much time on this subject either, Dawn answered, "Emphasis on the 'blown' at the moment, but something like that."
Meghan picked up on Jackie's description and latched on to it. "Witch?" she repeated, disbelief evident in her voice. "Like with warts and broomsticks and black cats?"
"Those are all stereotypes," corrected Dawn, waving a Cheeto at her friend. Pausing to think for a second she admitted, "Well, maybe not the cat."
"Last time I was there," Brenda jumped in enthusiastically, "I tried to get Willow to do magic, but she said it wasn't really something you take out and show to people like vacation slides. Instead, she gave me a book on Wicca, which was really interesting." Her face easily displayed her disappointment. "I'd hoped she'd be around tonight so I could ask her some questions."
The same hurt expression settled on Dawn, only she wasn't as successful at hiding it this time. Her voice was strained and obviously forced. "Nope, sorry. Just, uh ... Just me!" she laughed uncomfortably.
"Suits me fine. More fun to go 'round for us," Meghan shrugged, gathering up her trash from lunch. She, like the others, hadn't seemed to pick up on Dawn's mood shift, but Dawn brightened at the words just the same.
"Speaking of fun, I got my sister to pick us up a little something for tonight," Jackie said, her seriousness attracting everyone's full attention.
Grabbing her backpack, Jackie pulled it in front of her, settling it so her friends all had a clear view. She unzipped one side and opened it slightly. Everyone leaned close, a gasp running through the circle as they saw the bottle of Zima. Jackie quickly zipped the backpack closed again and sat back, looking extremely proud of herself.
Nobody spoke for a minute. Finally Meghan broke the silence by simply saying, "Cool." She nonchalantly sipped on a Caprisun, seemingly unconcerned.
Her friends weren't quite so composed. Virginia's eyes looked ready to pop out of her skull and she was so red she practically glowed. "Oh my god!" she squealed, flinching at the chorus of "Shhh!"s that her friends hissed around her. In a stage whisper she continued, "I can't believe you brought that to school!"
"If you get caught with that, you're so busted," Brenda cautioned, but still clearly awed.
"So I won't get caught," retorted Jackie cockily.
For Dawn, though, this wasn't something to be impressed by. It was something to be stomped on, thrown away and erased forever from recorded history. "No way," she said, her tone leaving no room for debate. "There's no way you can bring that over tonight. I'll be so dead they'll have to kill me and bring me back just to kill me again."
Making her exasperation plain for all to see, Jackie rolled her eyes at Dawn. "Oh, lighten up, Summers! It's just a couple of six-packs! What, are you chicken?" she challenged.
Dawn was unrelenting. "No, but I might become one if they catch me with that. Jackie, please," she pleaded, "I'm serious. Leave it at home tonight."
Jackie sighed, making it as exaggerated as humanly possible. "Fine, it's your house." Virginia and Brenda glanced at each other, disappointed again. Meghan was busy alternately blowing up and compressing her empty Caprisun pouch and didn't seem to care much about the conversation one way or the other.
Carefully tucking her backpack to one side, drawing attention to its precious cargo, Jackie looked at her friends. "We'll just save it for when you guys come over to my place for a real party."
This appeared to settle the matter, and the girls returned to discussing what movies they were going to watch that night. Dawn remained silent, however, gaining little comfort from knowing she had done the right thing.
Kennedy glanced towards the entrance to the huge training room as Faith and Hazel entered. There were a dozen or so Slayers in the room, some lifting weights, some working out with one of the punching bags, and still others sparring with each other on the mats that were liberally sprinkled about the room. The two girls were headed towards one of the empty set of weights when Kennedy called out and they changed directions to join her and Judith.
Both Judith and Kennedy were sweating and panting slightly, having been sparring themselves for a while. As Faith approached, she raised her popsicle in greeting.
Judith seemed to notice Hazel for the first time. "Hey!" she exclaimed, smiling.
"Hi," Hazel replied with a touch of frost, then seemed to catch her tone and tried to smile back. It didn't entirely work, but Judith didn't indicate that she noticed.
"Where'd you go this morning?" the larger girl asked after taking a gulp of bottled water. "I woke up for a minute at, like, six and you were gone."
Hazel shrugged. "Oh, I don't like to sleep too late. I feel like I'm wasting the day," she said matter-of-factly.
"The luxuries of not actually patrolling yet," commented Judith wistfully, sneaking a sideways glance at Hazel to catch her reaction. "I'm sure that once they make you a real Slayer, you'll be sleeping in until reasonable hours like the rest of us."
Kennedy had stepped back off the mat to stand next to Faith, who was still eating her popsicle and watching the two Junior Slayers with interest. With a low voice, Kennedy leaned over to Faith and asked, "Is it just me, or is there some underlying tension here?"
"It's not just you," Faith assured her, remaining focused on the unfolding events.
"Score one for me. And Willow says I'm insensitive."
Hazel and Judith hadn't caught a word of this exchange, fully concentrated on each other. Hazel was flushed with anger and embarrassment, but showed no signs of backing down.
"Oh, a 'real' Slayer, is that what you are?" she inquired with a sarcastic tone. "And what does it take to achieve that lofty title? The awe-inspiring ability to occasionally remember what trashcans are for?"
"Oo," Faith grinned from the sidelines.
"Or maybe it's the power to scream like a little girl when confronted with a Gortha demon?" Hazel mused aloud, crossing her arms. "I heard it was your team's easiest kill yet, it was laughing so hard."
"Ooooooo," both Faith and Kennedy egged on.
Judith looked righteously furious for a long moment ... then she simply smiled sweetly and, ever so slowly and deliberately, blew a bubble and popped her gum at Hazel. The effect was instantaneous and Hazel turned approximately fifteen shades of darker red.
Kennedy leaned over to Faith. "You realize this can only end in violence," she stated.
Pulling the clean stick out of her mouth, Faith regarded it briefly before tossing it to one side. "And just in time, I'm out of popsicle."
Hazel and Judith did indeed appear to be converging on the violence. They were circling each other on the mats, both tense and ready to either attack or defend at any given moment. The two Seniors stood by as the younger girls tested each other tentatively, watching like hawks for any opening to gain the advantage.
"Hazel's gonna kick your girl's ass," Faith observed to Kennedy.
Kennedy gaped at Faith like she'd just suggested they walk down Main Street at 2am wearing an "All You Can Eat" sign around their neck. "What? No way!" she protested.
"Yup," came the simple reply.
Watching as Judith made a swipe at Hazel that was easily avoided, Kennedy carefully examined both girls. "Judith's got height and weight on Hazel, plus weeks of additional training, plus field experience," remarked Kennedy. "What's Hazel got?"
Faith made no indication that she considered any of these details to be particularly important. "Haze is resourceful. She don't look like much, but she's got a real fire to her too. Fight can be won on that alone." She grinned and pointed to herself. "And she's got me. I been workin' with her."
"Well that's not much of an advantage," replied Kenned off-handedly. "I've been workin' with Judith myself."
The laugh was instinctive, though not cruel – which in no way prevented Kennedy from becoming insulted. "Yeah, but you know that don't compare," Faith pointed out.
Kennedy crossed her arms and narrowed her gaze. "What?"
"Well it's just—" the other woman began as it occurred to her how this was coming across. "Look, you know I think you're good an' all Brat, but you can't seriously be thinkin' anythin' but me takin' you down, ten outta ten. Way I see it," she concluded, turning back to the sparring match unfolding in front of them, "that puts advantage to Haze."
There was no more becoming insulted, insulted had arrived and brought friends.
"Actually," Kennedy virtually growled, "I'm seriously thinkin' a whole lot more than that. Including how someone's way inflated ego needs some major popping."
Faith shrugged nonchalantly. "Ain't ego, yo, just how it is."
"Fine, then you won't mind a friendly little wager."
"A bet?" Faith grinned confidently. "I dunno, I don't like to take advantage of the weak an' underprivileged. Someone taught me once I'm supposed to 'help the helpless'." She frowned, trying to remember. "Or was it 'help the hopeless'?"
Pressing on, Kennedy placed her hands on her hips, her body language screaming out a challenge. "Well as Weak Underprivileged Helpless Hopeless Girl, I give you permission to take advantage of me all you want," she taunted.
"Better not let Red hear you say that. But yeah, okay. Gives me one more way to know I can kick your ass."
As one, they returned their attentions to Judith and Hazel, who were grappling but with no clearly evident winner emerging yet. The two Seniors began to shout out to their respective counterpart, urging them on to victory through any means necessary.
Xander threw the door open harder than he had intended and flinched as it banged loudly against the wall. Shuffling awkwardly, he carried the collapsed table into the center of the room. Wood followed closely behind, carrying two folding chairs tucked under each arm.
Unfolding the square table, Xander eyed the room critically. It was somewhere between a tiny room and a large closet, and he seemed perfectly okay with that until his gaze lit upon the overhead light. He frowned and reached for a chair that Wood had leaned against the wall, unfolding it and climbing on the seat. Wood crossed his arms and watched with amusement as Xander fiddled with the dome covering the light bulb, finally managing to remove it. He stepped down from the chair and surveyed his handiwork, smiling. Perfect.
"You know there is such a thing as too much atmosphere," Wood commented.
Xander waved his hand, dismissing the idea as ludicrous. "Pffft. No such creature."
"So you don't think you're going just a little bit overboard then," he replied flatly.
"Not even remotely," grinned Xander, placing the dome on one of the many nearby empty shelves. "This room—"
"—closet has the deepest honor of being selected as the site for our very first Men's Poker Night." Xander clapped his hands together and bowed his head reverently. "All must be made perfect."
Cocking an eyebrow, Wood glanced around him at the two nearest walls, both almost within reach from where he was standing. He shook his head, still finding the situation entertaining. "And perfect is a tiny room with one lone, naked bulb," he asked, not really making it a question.
Xander sighed with deep contentment. "Yes. Yes it is."
They stared at each other for a moment. "Okay then," Wood finally relented cheerfully. "So glad I agreed to this tonight."
"Ah, you won't be sayin' that when I've stripped you of every last dime, my friend," joked Xander as he carefully arranged the chairs around the table.
Scoffing, not feeling the least bit intimidated, Wood replied, "I'll take my chances."
"Tonight, we'll take a stand for men everywhere," the other man proclaimed, standing tall and proud. "The right to smoke cigars, drink beer, tell dirty jokes and gamble away our life savings."
"That's quite the stand we're making from our closet," remarked Wood wryly.
Xander deflated and he shot a glare over his shoulder. "Couldja at least try an' work with me here?"
Literally wiping the smile from his face, Wood coughed and became quite serious. "Right, sorry. Consider me trying from here on out."
That was all Xander needed, and he straightened again, speaking as though to a large, invisible audience. "This is a chance for men to celebrate the manness of being men. It's a sacred tradition that we should have been embarking on since we cast our lot with the Britney Brigade." His voice became more and more impassioned and he raised his fist in the air. "We will, united as men, pursue ... the ..." Looking behind him, he snapped, "Can you not sniff me?"
Sure enough, Wood had moved close to Xander and was sniffing him curiously.
"But you smell so pretty," he smirked.
Xander became flustered, gesturing his hands around as he tried to explain. "Look, I was out of soap this morning and I just had to grab something. 'Apricot Delight' was, believe it or not, the most macho thing I could find." He sighed. "I live with two lesbians for cryin' out loud, is to too much to ask for one of them to use Old Spice or somethin'?"
Wood merely grinned as Xander sighed again and moved to the closet door, holding it open for the other man. As they walked out, Xander flipped the light switch, leaving the room only partially illuminated by the hallway.
"You know you've ruined this for me," he accused.
"And I'm crying about it on the inside," Wood responded. "In a manly way, of course."
Xander shook his head sadly and closed the door behind him.