The cemetery is quiet and cool. He walks through the trees feeling the breeze against his face. Spike wishes that he was as peaceful inside as the night is outside. It's been a couple of nights since he ran from Xander's basement and things still refuse to make sense. Maybe he's just insane. It's entirely possible after a century with Dru that some of it could have rubbed off. He hasn't gone back. Afraid of what the boy would do to him, because he's played this game before, and he knows who is going to get blamed and beaten. It was bad enough with Buffy, but Xander? Insanity keeps looking more and more plausible. Spike's staked out his old crypt, but he's done nothing to make it the home it used to be. Part of him doesn't want to go back to being that dead thing in the graveyard that is just good for information. He knows that he could go back to Giles, but again there's the fear. Had Harris talked? Did they all hate him again?
Flashing lights ahead draw him to another part of the cemetery. Someone is taking pictures. He arrives just in time to see a bunch of photographers leaving. Buffy and the gang are coming out of a crypt with that little squirt, one of the geeks.
He silently watches from the shadows until he hears the boy say, "Vampires only form nests to make hunting easier. They're not big on the cooperation. They mostly like to hang out all creepy and alone in the shadows. Don't you agree, Spike?"
For a second he wonders how the little nerd knew he was even there, and before he can think he's stepped out of the shadows and begun to speak.
"Well, well, the man himself," comes out of his mouth and Spike stops up short. "What the hell?"
"What are you doing here?" Jonathan asks without a hint of fear.
Then it hits him. That stupid kid must have done some kind of spell to make himself the big man around town. He vaguely remembers something like it from before, but it's all hazy in his memory.
"I live here. I wasn't exactly pining for a noisy visit from wonder Jonathan and his fluffy battle kittens," Spike spouts and then looks around in confusion as if someone else had been talking. It's not a complete illusion like Willow's 'Will Be Done' spell. It's more like a compulsion to play a certain part. The others don't even seem to be aware that's what is happening. It must be his back in time status that's keeping him from totally buying the newly made world.
"Yeah? You think that one up with all the time you spend not being able to bite people?" Buffy says in an air headed way that makes Spike want to laugh in her face.
Jonathan cuts in with, "Careful, he's still pretty dangerous."
Spike smirks at this, "Yeah, back off 'Betty.'" It's so weird how things are just popping out of his mouth without his control.
"It's Buffy, you big bleached... stupid guy." Which would explain Buffy's pathetic attempts at quips.
Jonathan gets all up in his face. "Spike you're the worst type of scum. The second you're back to your old tricks... Well, let's just say before you even sniff out your first victim you'll be pretty indistinguishable from, oh what should we say? Instant soup mix?"
He can feel awe and fear welling up for the little twerp and he has to fight them down. It's just too loony. Jonathan starts to walk away and he holds a hand out to stop him. There is the slightest hint of surprise from the boy. As if he is shocked Spike would even attempt to touch him before Spike ends up ass over teakettle in the grass at the Scoobies' feet.
"How? What? How?" Spike splutters as Jonathan readjusts his coat. Spike just can't believe that the little nerd got the jump on him. He moves better than Buffy.
"You should know better than to tangle with Jonathan, Spike," Xander says with a snicker.
Spike looks up at the one person he'd been avoiding for the past few days and sees nothing to suggest that they had kissed at all. Did the spell make him forget? Before Spike can get to his feet the group of them move off leaving him in the dirt. It's only Xander's quick, unsure glance back at him that gives Spike any hope at all.
"That little..." Spike mutters and jumps to his feet. "Make me the spooky random villain in his little play will he? We'll just see..." Spike pauses. "Bloody hell, he's got me doing bad villain dialogue to myself!"
Spike spends the next day in his crypt trying to come up with a plan. He's probably persona non grata with the Scoobies now that they're Jonathan's little puppets, so he decides to keep an eye on the 'man himself.' It doesn't take much to figure out where Jonathan lives. The estate practically screams 'wanker' to him. As soon as the sun is down, Spike picks a spot along the wall to sit and smoke and watch. He waits quite some time before a scream cuts through the peaceful night. With a back flip, he's off the wall and running.
A pretty young thing with lovely caramel skin is running away from a demon the likes of which Spike has never seen. The girl stumbles hard and does a face plant into the turf. Before she can recover, the demon is on her with an animalistic gibber. Spike kicks the thing viciously in the kidney, if it even has kidneys, and gets it away from the still screaming girl. The creature's long arm swings around quicker than he expects and Spike takes the blow hard against his temple. He crumples to the ground. It's a good time for the thing to go in for the kill, but the girl fleeing once again distracts it. The monster rushes after her leaving Spike to try and make the ground stop spinning. By the time he gets to his feet, and shakes it off, the pair are gone.
"Damnit," he curses and lopes off to get help. The thing is stronger than it looks. To his chagrin, he knows that he needs Buffy's help.
His first urge is to head to the Watcher's place, but instinct makes him swing by the Bronze just in case. He staggers into the club and freezes. Jonathan is doing a pretty good Dean Martin up on stage. He's got a wonderful voice. That thought makes Spike jerk. "Sodding spell," he mumbles and looks around for Buffy. The Slayer and Sergeant Doofus are on the dance floor passing loving gazes back and forth at each other. It's disgusting. He wonders what he ever saw in her. Of course, a little voice in the back of his mind quickly pipes up that he'd trade places with Finn in a heartbeat if he could. Spike grits his teeth and looks away angrily. He should be done with all those feelings, especially considering... Xander catches his eye. The young man is sitting alone at a table covered in purses. It must be horrible to be the token guy purse protector.
He makes his way over and sits down. He snatches up what's probably Finn's beer and tosses it back. Xander pays him no mind. He's too busy staring up at the stage practically drooling. The jealousy is so intense that when it burns through him, Spike gasps. Why the hell should he be jealous? Jonathan's a little prick that dreams about being as cool as Spike. There should be no reason to wish he was the itty bitty loser... except then Xander would be looking at him like that, wouldn't he? Spike bites his lip.
Jonathan finishes off the song and suddenly breaks out into a trumpet solo. It's something jazzy that has everyone tapping their toes. Spike shoots a dirty look down at his Docs and wills them to stop. Xander still hasn't acknowledged him and it's starting to piss him off royally.
"Oi! Am I going to sit here all night or are you going to ask me what happened?"
Xander doesn't look away from the stage when he asks, "What happened?"
Before he can stop himself, Spike reaches out and grabs the boy's chin and makes him look. He watches the emotions play across Xander's face. The annoyance, anger, and surprise are expected, but something else flits through Harris' eyes so quickly that Spike isn't sure if he saw it at all. Whatever it is sends sparks down his spine and he suddenly feels warm, which shouldn't happen at all really.
"What the hell happened to you?" Xander asks pulling out of Spike's grip and glancing at his temple.
Spike reaches up to where the beast hit him and finds the skin tender and bleeding just a bit. "New monster. Went after a girl. Got away before I could..."
He's interrupted by the music suddenly stopping. They both turn to the stage where Jonathan is hopping down into the crowd and pulling a girl with pretty caramel skin into his arms.
"That's the girl!" Spike says and jumps over toward the commotion and pushes his way through.
The Slayer and Finn are already close by, as are the witches. Jonathan looks up at his arrival and shoots him a dangerous look. Spike ignores him. He starts to check over the girl but she's jerked away by the nerd.
"Back off, Spike!"
At Jonathan's words, Buffy and her beau quickly make a shield in front of the girl. Spike rolls his eyes.
"I was just going to see if she's alright. That thing knocked me for a loop, who knows what it could have done to a tender little thing like her."
"What?" Willow asks.
"Some kind of demon. Never seen one like it before. It jumped her outside of Jonathan's place."
"And what were you doing there, I wonder?" the nerd asks still comforting the girl.
"I was passing by when I heard her screaming."
"I don't suppose you had anything to do with this monster."
"Lay off, Levinson. I was trying to help her when the thing walloped me," he says pointing to his temple.
Jonathan looks like he's about to contest this when the girl speaks up with a shaky voice. "It's true. He got it away from me and I ran."
"Let's go back to my place. Maybe we can figure out what did this."
The group follows Jonathan out to his limo. Tara and Willow break away and decide to go tell Giles what's happened. Jonathan nods. When Spike tries to climb into the car after everyone else the little twerp has the nerve to block his path.
"Where do you think you're going, vampire?"
"Do you want to know what I know, or what? I can show you where I saw it, where it was headed, and probably give you a better description than she can. She's too shaken up."
The boy looks displeased, but steps out of the way. Spike bends down to get in when a hand lands on his shoulder and it's too strong for him to shake off.
"Don't try to be too smart, Spike. You'll regret it."
Spike gets inside, but wonders if it was a regular threat or if Jonathan has guessed that he's not 100% in La La Land with the others. The trip to the mansion is silent. Everyone is squeezed into one end of the limo away from Spike. He almost feels scary, except for the looks everyone keeps giving Jonathan. Like they know that the little geek will save them if he tries anything. It's more disgusting than watching Buffy and Finn doing their best googly eyes. Well, maybe not that disgusting.
When they arrive at the mansion, Spike takes the rear again. There are some cops around waiting. Everyone troops inside through the large, open double doors except Spike who slams into the barrier.
He's ignored except for a smirking look from over Jonathan's shoulder. He can see what's going on inside, but they're far enough back that even his hearing can only pick up an occasional word or two. He paces outside the barrier and waits. A glance inside and he catches Xander looking at him, but the boy quickly looks away.
There's some more discussion before they all troop back outside. Apparently, no one is going to do squat which pisses him off. He storms down the driveway toward the gate when Buffy's voice stops him up short.
He turns to look at her. She's suddenly apprehensive around him, which is just wrong on so many levels. The Slayer should never be scared of him. It's part of the reason he fell for her. If nothing else, it's this that makes him want to smash Jonathan's brains in. Deflating her to make himself more special is worse than anything Spike can think of.
"What?" he asks softly, reacting to her trepidation.
"What did you think of that thing? Is it dangerous?"
"I think the girl was lucky to get away. I think someone else tonight might not be so lucky."
She bites her lip a bit and leaves. Finn and Xander trail after her. This time Harris studiously avoids his eyes. Spike slips off into the night hoping to come across the beast. He knows he needs to relieve some tension.
The next night he finds Buffy wandering around town. She's staring off into space like she's trying to figure something out. He slips up behind her and taps her gently on the back of the head. She whirls around in surprise, instead of whirling around and kicking his ass like she should.
"A Slayer shouldn't let her guard down like that."
"What are you doing here?"
There's none of the usual accusation in her voice and Spike tries to keep his anger in check. Once he would have longed for a softer gentler Buffy, but now he sees how much he would have hated it. How he would have used it against her. The darkness in him preys on weakness. Why else would he have loved her, if not for her strength?
"Patrolling a bit. You know the usual."
"Why do you do that?"
He walks along beside her. "Fighting demons is all I've got, luv. You know that."
"No, I mean. Why are you being so nice? Jonathan says..."
"I don't really care what Jonathan says." She looks away from him at that and suddenly he wants to know what she was thinking before he startled her. "And I think maybe you're starting not to care either, aren't you?"
"No! That's not... Spike? There's something about that monster. I'm just not sure."
Inwardly he smiles, but outwardly he shows nothing. "You'll figure it out. Go with your gut. That's what Slayers do."
He's a few steps away when he hears her say, "Spike, when you were all futurey or whatever. Were we... friends?"
He turns but keeps walking backwards when he answers, "Something like that. Watch your back."
She nods and looks much less lost than when he first saw her. Spike waits until he has turned away from her before he smiles. And it's better than magic because now he knows--he knows--that he can let her go. He's not the demon he was before the chip. He's not the demon he was before he fell for her. He's not the demon that fought for a wish. He's something else once again. Maybe that sodding wish demon was smarter than he thought.
There's a small bike shop on the corner and as he passes the window a dark head catches his eye. Xander is bent over a BMX pointing out the shocks to a father and son. The three are laughing at something Harris has said. Spike stands outside the big window entranced. He watches Xander ring up the bike for the man. He hadn't even known that Harris had gotten another job, but at least it's better than the Hot Dog Hut. As the new bike owners turn away, the father strokes the son's head lovingly. The expression on Xander's face changes to something that makes Spike's chest hurt. He pulls away from the window before the boy can see him and heads toward his crypt. He strokes his chest as if he had been injured and worries all the way home.
The blow knocks him back out of the alley, and Spike rolls with it coming to his feet prepared for another attack. A yelp to his left lets him know that he about knocked a woman down, but he ignores her. The vamp rushes him. He was surprised to find this one hanging about in the shadows near the Bronze. Usually, Sunnydale is full of only fledges and minions. The usual quick stake fests, but this vamp must have a few years on him, and knows some moves. Of course, he's really no match, but he's enough of a challenge that Spike is drawing the fight out for the fun of it. The game changes though when the vampire sees the woman and goes after her. Spike slams his foot into the ugly's stomach before he can reach her and quickly stakes him before he gets anymore bright ideas.
"Congratulations, pet. You've been rescued by—Oh, it's you."
"I wouldn't have needed to be rescued if you hadn't dragged your fight right into me, Spike," Anya says with a frown.
"Sorry," Spike says insincerely with a shrug. "How have you been?"
"Like you care."
"Don't be that way. Us demons, or former in your case, gotta stick together. Tough times and all that."
Demon girl doesn't reply she just keeps walking towards the Bronze. Spike follows her because he'd been headed in that direction anyway. She seems annoyed at his persistence, but doesn't tell him to go away. They make it inside and Spike buys the poor thing a beer. She's obviously surprised by this, but takes the drink gladly.
"So what's new with you?" he asks.
"Did Xander send you here?"
"No. The boy and I aren't exactly on speaking terms right now."
Spike knows better than to tell a former vengeance demon that he'd been kissing her former boyfriend, so he just shakes his head.
"Oh. I just assumed that you'd do something with your chance."
"Chance at what?"
Anya looks at him as if he's stupid. It's a look that she's given him off and on since he first met her. She's sitting on the opposite end of the couch from him, and with his arm across the back he's almost touching her bare shoulder. She's wearing something flimsy, revealing a lot of skin. He remembers exactly what that skin felt like. In a flash, he's back in the Magic Box with her writhing on top of him. Then she answers his question.
"Your chance at Xander, of course."
His mind is still on that night of drunken solace and so it takes a moment for it to register exactly what she has said. He blinks.
Anya rolls her eyes. "Oh, don't be all coy. It doesn't suit you. You and Xander having male orgasms together."
"I... That's..." Spike isn't sure what to say. His first instinct is to deny, deny, deny, but the way she's looking at him... It's the Anya 'You know I'm telling the truth' face that breaks him. "Nothing's happening. We kissed. That's why we're not on speaking terms."
"You probably did it all wrong."
"Hey, I know how to kiss, all right! I've had no complaints!"
"No that, you nitwit. I mean you probably went about it all wrong. The last thing Xander needs is time to think. He can talk himself out of anything. How do you think I got him in the first place? I dropped my dress and said 'have at it.'"
"How did you know?"
"The day we broke up it was your hand he was holding, remember? Plus, you're a vampire and will obviously stick it in anything."
She ignores his outburst and continues, "The way he was pandering to you. I should have seen it coming. I had my suspicions about him all along. All his friends are girls, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he has dominance issues. If it wasn't for his complete lack of dress sense..."
"Then why'd you drop your drawers in the first place?" Spike asks.
Anya shrugs. "Who else was there? Orgasms are orgasms."
"Oh come on, luv. Don't kid a kidder. He hurt you. If it was just orgasms, it wouldn't have bothered you at all."
Anya shoots him a dirty look, but doesn't deny it. They sit and drink quietly both lost in their own thoughts. When she's finished her drink he takes it from her and hands it over to a passing waitress.
"So what are you going to do now?" he asks.
"I'm done with Xander. You can have him. I think it's time I explored my options. I mean, I've been here in Sunnydale for a while now, and I haven't even tried to find someone else. I'm young, attractive, and available. There's this party I was thinking about going to. A guy gave me a flyer on the street yesterday. He seemed really interested in me attending."
"That's a good plan. Find you someone that makes you happy. More power to you!" Spike says toasting her with his beer.
"The only problem is that Buffy might be there since it's at Riley's stupid Army Frat House thing."
"That's the one. I don't think I should be around those Initiative goons."
"That's tonight? Bollocks!" Spike jumps up, grabs her arm, and heads for the door.
They dash out of the Bronze and head towards UC Sunnydale. All the while he tries to explain what happened before, but she doesn't seem interested. When they reach Frat Row the party is already going at a fair clip. They are invited in and no sooner are they through the door but they spot Xander chatting up a pretty brunette. Harris looks shocked to see the two of them.
"Anya? What are you doing here...with Spike!"
"Settle down, Xander," Spike says trying to calm the boy. "There's going to be some trouble here tonight. Anya just reminded me about it. Where's Buffy?"
"Why so you can mack on her too? Complete the whole set?"
"That's not going to happen. It's Scooby business. Give it a rest!"
Xander just gets more agitated. "I should have known. That's what this was all about! You were after Anya!"
"I'm not after Anya! Damnit! We don't have time for this!"
"We're going to make time, Fangless!"
Anya stands between them watching the argument like a tennis match. Spike gets right up in the boy's face. He didn't want this to happen, especially not here, but he's too mixed up inside to stop it.
"The only one I see making time around here is you!"
"Oh don't start that shite! I saw that little piece you were drooling over!"
"I was not drooling! I do not drool!"
"Spoken like someone who hasn't had to watch you sleep," Spike says with a snort.
"He's right you know," Anya agrees.
"Can we forget about the drooling? For a second, please?" Xander whines. "I want to know what the hell you're doing here!"
"I told you. There's going to be trouble."
"The only trouble I see, Spike, is you!"
Anya snorts, "Why didn't I realize it before? We never had this much passion in our relationship. Well, out of bed anyway."
"What are you talking about?" Xander asks her. He looks back and forth between them and Spike keeps his eyes firmly on his boots and the people milling around them. "Oh my god, you told her?"
Spike flinches. "It's not like that."
"Xander, it's okay if you want to have orgasms with boys or vampires or boy vampires. I just wish you'd told me earlier. At least now I know why we really broke up. Maybe we could even be friends," Anya says cheerfully.
Xander looks like someone smacked him with a mackerel. Spike holds back another flinch because he really doesn't want to bring the boy's attention back to him. It doesn't do him much good.
"I'm going to kill you. You are going to die," Xander growls and then adds, "again."
"Xander, I know you're upset, but can we do this later? The house is bloody haunted. People are going to get hurt. We need to get Buffy. Where is she?"
Spike is sure that Xander is going to start in on yelling at him again when Willow runs up looking frightened. He could just kiss her for the distraction, but he knows that Harris would take it the wrong way.
"Xander. Ghost boy. Drowning in a tub. I... I tried to save him, but being a ghost already... Well, I was way too late."
"A ghost? What's the deal? Is every frat on this campus haunted? And if so, why do people keep coming to these parties? 'Cause it's not the snacks."
Spike looks over at Anya. "Why do they never believe me?"
"It's because you're a demon. Prejudice pure and simple."
The other two ignore them as Tara joins the group. Spike smiles at the shy witch. It's the first time he's seen her since he did his H.G. Wells bit. She looks pale as if she's been ill. Willow takes her hand worriedly.
"Tara, how are you?" Red asks.
"I'm okay, but I don't like it here. This house... I think we should go."
Willow looks at them seriously and says, "We need Buffy."
"Been yelling that for a half an hour, Red," Spike says pointedly looking at Xander.
They all tromp upstairs after Willow who seems to know where she's going. They reach a door on the second floor and the witch pounds on it.
"Buffy? Riley?" she yells loudly but receives no response.
Xander starts banging on the door and yelling as well. Suddenly, vines shoot out from under the door like snakes making the two of them jump back. Spike watches in amazement as the door grows over with fat, thorny creepers. Anya and Tara walk over to the balcony to look down as Willow examines the strange growth.
Unexpectedly, the house begins to shake with a jerk. Spike's lived through a few small earthquakes, but nothing like the supernatural shiver the house gives. Everyone staggers about in shock and Spike doesn't even see the door behind him and Xander fly open until an invisible shove send the two of them toppling inside. The door slams closed leaving them surrounded by darkness. He jumps to his feet and vamps out, but it doesn't help him see any better in the dark room so he shakes it off. It's no ordinary shadow, but something much more unearthly. Spike makes his way to the door by feel. It refuses to budge even with his added strength.
"Xander, give us a hand, yeah? Door won't move."
The boy doesn't answer, but he hears him move closer. Spike expects him to help pull, but instead he's pushed forward and ground into the door. It's a rotten time for Harris to attack considering their surroundings. He pushes back to try and get away, and only then realizes that Xander has something else in mind. Large hands slide around his waist and pull him tight against a hard body. He can feel Xander's nose caress the back of his ear as the boy sniffs his scent.
"You smell good, like leather and menthol, earth and spice."
"I don't think he's listening," Xander rumbles and Spike had no idea his voice could get that low.
He's spun around and the moment his eyes look into the dark brown ones peering back at him, he's gone. Spike darts his head forward and takes those lips once again. Unlike the harsh kiss from before, this one is slow and sultry. Xander opens up willingly to him and their tongues dance. Spike rocks against the warm human and revels in the heat. They're both already hard and they haven't even broken from the first kiss. Xander's hands yank off his duster sending it pooling to the floor. Spike scrambles with Xander's shirt trying to get to skin. They both pull back giving each other heated glances as they quickly get their shirts off. Bare to the waist, they crash back together, kissing and licking like animals.
"Saw you with that girl. You should know better. Mine now," Spike hisses into the collarbone his licking.
Xander pulls Spike's head tighter to his broad chest and chuckles. "You should know better than to run off with vengeance demons. Need you."
Spike moves back up for another kiss and grinds his hips against Xander's. He's rewarded with a gasp and more grinding. A sharp snap of the boy's hips and Spike stumbles backward over his coat before running into the door. Before he can recover, Xander is on him. The pair surge and fight almost as much as they lick and caress. Spike's jeans are achingly tight. A warm hand fumbles with them until he's loose. He sighs in relief, which causes Xander to give another dark chuckle. He's about to return the favor but is distracted by a rough palm wrapping around his length. It feels so good because Xander immediately holds him with a tight grip and jacks him hard the way he likes it.
"Oh you beautiful boy! You gorgeous bastard!" Spike grunts letting his head fall back against the door with a thunk.
Xander smiles against his neck and keeps pumping. The other callused hand disappears from his shoulder and Spike almost complains until he hears a zipper and another relieved sigh. Needing no further instruction, Spike attacks the boy's cock with his own snug grip. It's not long before they're both groaning happily.
"No," Xander pants after a moment. "I need more... Spike..."
With a dark smile, Spike pushes him back. He puts his hands on the boy's shoulders and wrangles him to the floor before jumping on him with an embarrassing little whoop. It's not too bad because it makes Xander laugh again. Spike is becoming addicted to those sexy chuckles. He jerks the boy's dark pants and boxers down, and then wriggles his own jeans off his hips. Xander grabs for his biceps and pulls him down the rest of the way until he's covering the dark beauty like a blanket. A quick shimmy and he aligns their weeping cocks. Xander throws his head back and groans. Spike hisses in return and they start moving together like old pros.
"Yes, yes, yes," Xander whispers.
It makes the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. The boy's sweat eases their coupling and Spike slides against him. The pace gets faster and faster as they draw nearer to release. He plants his hands on either side of Xander's shoulders and pushes himself up. The added pressure is perfect as he bucks along with the willing man beneath him.
"God, Spike!" Xander groans and his thrusts become erratic as he falls over the edge.
Spike feels the cock under him twitch once, twice, and warm wetness covers them both. He grits his teeth and thrusts madly against the loose-limbed boy until he too reaches completion with a strangled sigh. Spike's arms give out and he flops onto Xander like a rag doll. They lay quietly gasping for breath. Xander, as usual, is the one to break the silence.
"What the hell was that?"
"Damn good, that's what that was." Spike pauses. "Wanna go again?"
"Fuck yeah..." Xander gasps and pulls on Spike's hair until they're kissing once again.
The kisses are more languid but no less hot. Spike lets Xander plunder his mouth. There's an annoying noise in the distance, but it goes unnoticed. Spike sucks on Xander's earlobe as the noise gets louder and louder. With a crash, the door flies open flooding the room with light. Spike's arm immediately comes up to shield his eyes as he looks back at the intruder.
Giles stands in the doorway gaping at them and holding a fire axe. He looks as if someone had used it on him before bothering with the door. Spike's about to tell the Watcher where he can go, when he's shoved off his warm mattress.
"No. Please no," Xander whimpers as he jerks his pants up from where they lay tangled around his ankles.
"I... um..." Giles stutters before Willow's voice makes him turn. The Watcher goes to block her from seeing in the doorway leaving Spike and Xander alone.
Spike pulls up his jeans and watches the boy frantically try to get his shirt back on. Something cold creeps in his belly when he realizes what's happened. It was the house. Xander obviously never wanted him.
"Don't. Just don't," the boy snaps and surges to his feet.
Before he can speak again, Xander has bolted out the door. Slowly, he pulls on his shirt and retrieves his duster before wandering out into the hall. The gang is all downstairs. Buffy and Riley are there looking flushed and somewhat embarrassed. Willow stands by the door looking out into the night, probably after the escaping Xander.
"Spike, are you... all right?" Giles asks with actual concern.
He gives his countryman a sad little smile. "I'll live... or not as the case may be."
"Perhaps you'd better stay with me tonight. There's something I want to discuss with you anyway."
Spike doesn't bother to tell him that he hasn't been staying with Xander for almost a week. He just nods and follows Giles when the group breaks up. If he's more quiet than usual on the walk home, the Watcher doesn't mention it.
Two days after what Spike is starting to think of as “the incident,” the gang shows up at Giles’ house for a Scooby meeting. Spike’s asleep when he’s woken up by a loud voice.
“What are you doing here?” Buffy says, leaning over the back of the couch.
Spike sits up to glare at her, but he doesn’t reply. He can see Willow and Riley in the background talking to Giles, but it’s a honey colored head that makes him rise to his feet. He walks toward the shy girl to Willow’s right and takes her hand. It’s the first time he’s had a chance to talk to Tara since he first saw her at Lowell House.
“Glinda! Good to see you!” Spike says. She ducks her head in response, obviously surprised and embarrassed.
Willow frowns and says, “Her name is Tara.”
“I know what her name is, Red.”
Tara stutters out a hello and Spike sees her shoot him a curious look through the fall of hair over her face. He gives her a genuine smile in response. Buffy gives him a cross look and starts heading toward them, probably to defend Willow’s girl from the nasty vampire. Spike moves away and heads for the kitchen for some blood. He knows it’s best to stay out of their way. Plus, the boy will arrive soon enough. He’d rather be out of sight, out of mind for that confrontation. Sure enough before the microwave dings, Xander shows up. He sticks to Willow like glue, and refuses to look towards the kitchen at all. Giles keeps giving the two of them looks, but doesn’t bring anything up, thankfully. Buffy complains about the lack of slaying, which gets the meeting started.
“Yes, I expected this,” Giles says. “From what Spike has told us, Adam is recruiting demons. Those that aren’t recruited are being scared off.”
“Adam’s the bad guy,” Willow explains to Tara.
“The ones working for him are letting themselves get snatched by the soldier boys,” Spike supplies.
“That’d kind of defeat the point, wouldn’t it?” Riley asks snidely.
“Riley feels threatened,” Willow whispers loud enough for them all to hear.
Spike ignores the side commentary and confronts Riley. “That is his plan. He wants a demon and human war with a lot of casualties. It provides him with more parts for his monster mash.”
“That’s a metaphor,” Willow says.
Tara smiles and replies, “I got it, thanks.”
“I’m over helping, aren’t I?”
Tara laughs while Riley continues to argue about the Initiative’s intentions. Spike refuses to get into it with him. The boy’s been through drug withdrawal and attempted murder of his friends, and he still sings their praises. Spike just can’t understand it. From the look on Buffy’s face, she’s having a hard time understanding too. Giles is less reserved in his criticism. It’s only a knock at the opening door that stops their argument. Spike can’t see what’s silenced everyone from his position in the kitchen, so he moves around to the living room.
“Hey,” Oz says, staring at Willow from the doorway.
“Oz,” Willow replies as if none of them knew his name.
Spike looks over to see Tara’s face change subtly as she repeats, “Oz.”
There is a strong urge to smack Willow, but Spike understands what it’s like to get thrown by an ex’s sudden appearance. Instead, he remembers what happens to the mutt during his return to Sunnydale.
“When…when did you get back?” Willow asks.
The question stirs everyone into movement. Xander goes to greet Oz while the others move towards him as he fully enters the room. Spike holds back to give them their moment.
After Oz turns down Giles’ offer of tea and makes his date with Willow, Spike moves past them to stop the boy at the door.
“Wolfboy, wait up. Listen, I know you have no right to trust me, but I have to warn you. There’s a government group in town that’s collecting demons. They’re going to catch you and then experiment on you. Giles can back me up if you don’t believe me.”
“The Initiative gets Oz!” Xander yelps.
“Yeah, and it’s bad. I had to help bust him out.”
Oz is looking at him with skeptical eyes. He looks past Spike’s shoulder, probably to get confirmation from the Watcher.
“I’ll be careful.”
“You’d better be more than that. Trust me, mate, it’s not somewhere you want to end up.”
“The Initiative wouldn’t do that,” Riley argues.
Spike shoots him a withering look over is shoulder. When he looks back, Oz merely nods and leaves. Tara makes a poor excuse and escapes while everyone is focused on Spike’s news. He feels like stepping out after her and offering his support, but she doesn’t know him, and he’s pretty sure he wouldn’t feel welcome. Spike merely watches her helplessly as she disappears out of the courtyard. He closes the door only to hear Riley arguing with Buffy about the Initiative again. The Slayer convinces him that Oz is a werewolf, but a responsible one. The meeting is pretty much over after the bombshell of Oz’s reappearance and possible danger. The others head home, Xander clinging to Red again. Whether to offer support or get it, Spike isn’t sure. He doesn’t bother looking at the boy as he takes his place back on the couch now that the noise is gone.
Spike doesn’t get too much time before Giles sets a rattling tray by his ear. He shoots the Watcher a dirty look, but the man is pouring him a cuppa, so he lets it slide.
“Are you really sure Oz is in danger?” Giles asked pouring some tea for himself.
Spike sits back up and takes his cup before replying, “I helped you lot bust him out. Of course, I was working for Adam at the time and it was mostly to gain your trust.”
“Yes, about that—“
“Save it, Watcher. I won’t apologize for being evil. It’s what I am. Not that it’s done me a bit of good since I met—“
Giles interrupts him, “Spike, do shut up. I think you’ve more than proved your intentions. Now while I’ll never trust you completely, I believe you are trying to help us, for your own ends, of course. Riley made a point a few days ago about how he can work the Initiative from the inside, and that got me thinking. We know that Adam is going to approach you.”
“You want me to be a double agent, with you playing M?” Spike asks, seeing the other man’s train of thought.
“Yes, you’ve provided us with good information, but how closely will Adam follow the plan you know of if you aren’t involved?”
“So I have to make my own self-fulfilling prophecy, is what you’re saying?”
“Indeed. I know tensions between you and Xander are strained right now, and rightly so.”
Spike sighs. He knew this was coming, but Giles only shakes his head.
“I’m not going to discuss it,” Giles says. “We both know there were strong magics involved. Xander is embarrassed, but these things happen.”
“You should know, eh?” Spike replies with a smirk. Giles gives him a dark look and continues.
“I think you should do what you did before. Let Adam come to you. We’ll get information and start turning events to our own ends. Plus, it will give the others a chance to cool off and accept your help.”
“Right send me to the guy they think I’m working for in the first place, bloody brilliant that is,” Spike says snidely.
“When they see that you’re willing to risk your life—and I have no doubt this will be quite dangerous for you—they’ll be more likely to trust you, Spike.”
Spike thinks about it a moment. Maybe some space is what he needs. It’ll give him a chance to get his head right about this boy nonsense. He says, “Right. I had this spot I was staying at before. I’ll get set up tonight. If I’ve got my timing right, Adam will show up in the afternoon.”
“I’ll give you some money. It might be a good idea to show yourself around Willie’s tonight. Make some contacts that might be sympathetic to Adam’s cause.”
“Not about to turn down some dosh, but I think I know my business, Giles.”
“Quite right,” Giles replies and goes to get the money.
Spike spends a few hours making some noise with some of the local boys, before returning to his old crypt. It’s more than depressing sitting on the slab. It’s probably why he didn’t bother to move in before. The last thing he wants is to have to redo all the work he did to get the place set up like he had it before. Granted it wasn’t too bad for a vampire bachelor pad, but he feels older than even his many years. Was this why Angel was such a wanker? Spike shakes his head at the thought. That poof was always a wanker even back when he was evil. Spike lies back on the concrete and almost wishes for the orange barcalounger of doom.
Adam wakes him sometime after noon from what he can see from the shape of the light outside the tiny mausoleum windows. He’s bigger than Spike remembers. Spike keeps his spot on top of the tomb, letting it lend him a little bit of height.
“You’re the one known as Spike. I want you to come with me.”
“And why would I do that then?”
“You’re going to help me with my problem.”
Spike snorts and lights a cigarette. Adam just looks at him impassively.
“Still not seeing why I should listen to you,” Spike says when Adam fails to elaborate.
“I’m going to help you with your problem.”
“Are you now.”
“That chip in your head. I can help you get it out.”
Spike tries not to let his sarcasm show when he replies, “Well you have my vote. What do you want in return?”
Adam squints. “I need you to help me get to the Slayer.”
Spike pauses as if to consider it before he says, “I’ve heard about you. Been causing a bit of a ruckus about. Not sure if I want my insides on the outsides today, ta very much.”
“You’re smarter than I was led to believe.”
Spike sits up straight at that. Adam holds up his hand to stop any tirades. Spike settles down as the monster continues.
“I have a plan. The humans from the Initiative are inferior. I want to help them. I want to make them like me. In order to do so, things must get…messy.”
“I like messy. I’m good at messy, or at least I used to be.”
Adam nods and continues, “Yes, and when we are through, you will be good at it again. You have knowledge of the Slayer. Her part in this plan is crucial. She will be my instrument.”
“Anything to get rid of that bitch. I’m in, say no more. Hell, you get this chip out of me, and I’ll bring you her head on a pike.”
“Good. Much needs to be done. But first, you will have to gain their trust.”
“Because that’s easy.”
“Tonight, it will be.”
After Adam lays out his plan, Spike waits impatiently for the sun to set. He walks in to Giles’ to see the group already there. Buffy is on the phone looking frantic. The others look worried.
“They have him, don’t they?” Spike asks. The looks he gets in response are enough of an answer.
“Riley is still not answering his pages. I left him another message.”
“He’s already tried to get Oz out. They’ve got him locked up.”
“What?” Buffy yells. “You didn’t mention that before.”
“That’s because I thought the wolf would have enough sense not to get caught after I warned him!”
“What are they doing to him?” Willow asks quietly from the couch.
Spike steps over and lays a hand on her shoulder. He doesn’t even glance at Xander sitting next to her.
“Nothing good,” Spike finally replies.
“We have to do something!” Buffy says. “What did we do last time?”
“We’ll go in the back way. Adam’s got things set up for us.”
Buffy explodes again, “What?”
“You’re working for Adam? After all we’ve done—Nah, I can’t even act surprised,” Xander says harshly.
Spike flinches and turns his back on them. The last thing he needs is for them to see how much their accusations hurt. He closes his eyes and wonders when he started needing them. After everything with Xander, it’s time to pull himself back together, and be the big bad. It’s always easier to play the bastard.
Giles comes to his rescue by saying, “I asked him to go to Adam. He’s working for us in Adam’s camp. We’re using Spike’s knowledge to guide the thing right where we want him.”
“Yeah, because if we can trust anyone, we can trust Spike,” Buffy says sarcastically.
“Considering his mind hasn’t been clouded by a two bit tin soldier whose job is likely going to get us all killed or thrown into jail, yes.”
Spike turns to Giles in surprise. The others look as equally shocked, and Buffy’s face is filled with hurt. Giles softens after his outburst.
“Buffy, you have to understand, we’re not just dealing with Adam. We’re going up against the United States Government. I’m amazed that we haven’t been detained or arrested. We could have just as easily vanished one evening never to be seen again. The Initiative is nothing like anything we’ve fought before. We’re all playing a very dangerous game, and so far the only ones that have been taking it seriously are Spike and myself. I mean, my God, you’ve almost been killed and Xander has been shot. Oz is now likely being experimented on. We have to face facts. Spike is the only way we’re going to get information on Adam. He’s risking his life to help us.”
“Never thought I’d see the day when you defend me, Giles,” Spike says softly.
“Yes, it’s not one of my better moments.”
“I can’t believe you’re supporting Spike,” Buffy says. “You never supported Angel.”
Giles takes off his glasses and looks at her before saying, “Yes, well you aren’t dating Spike.”
Buffy and Spike both cringe. Spike is sure it’s not for the same reason.
“Why are you doing this?” Xander asks, not looking at Spike.
“Because Adam is a robo-wanker that needs taking down, and I don’t have anything else,” Spike replies honestly.
“We need to save Oz!” Willow pleads.
Spike nods and starts gathering up some weapons. “We will, Red. We’ll go in the back and grab the head guy. Hell, I’m in a generous mood. We’ll even bust out Captain Cardboard too.”
He leads the group of them minus Giles and Tara who elect to stay behind, supposedly to be working on the computer to hack the Initiative’s systems. Before Spike and the others used the pretense of lab coats and uniforms, but there’s no point in pretending now. In the woods, they find the back entrance. The doors are unlocked.
“They just leave their stuff unlocked?” Xander asks skeptically.
“No, Adam’s doing his computer mojo to help us get in. This is all so that you guys will trust me, remember?”
The boy mumbles as he passes Spike and steps inside, “Good luck with that.”
They’re not inside long before the power goes out. In the blue emergency lights Spike gives them an ‘I told you so’ eyebrow raise. He lets Buffy take the lead when they jump the Colonel in his room.
“You know who I am?” she says pointing a crossbow at him threateningly. When the Colonel nods she finishes, “Then you know I'm pretty good with this thing. You’re going to take us to Riley and to our friend Oz.”
“You came here for the wolf?” the man asks surprised.
“We’re all about the two for one,” Xander quips.
Buffy practically growls, “Get dressed.”
They go after Riley first because the brig is closer. There’s one guard outside. They use Willow as a distraction. She rushes past him but before the man even realizes there’s someone else in the hall, Buffy attacks. He’s out cold before Spike and Xander can turn the corner brining the Colonel up the corridor. Buffy uses the guard’s keycard to open the door. Riley seems surprised to see them.
“How’d you get in?” he asks.
“Talk later. Stealthy escape now,” Buffy tells him.
“If I leave now, I can never come back.”
The four of them look at Riley like he’s dense. He blinks for a moment before saying, “I just wanted to hear that out loud.”
The Colonel starts in on soldier boy the moment they head for the containment area. Riley mostly ignores him. Finally, Spike has had too much.
“Finn, you know I can’t shut him up, so how about you step up to the plate, eh? We’re trying to be sneaky here.”
Spike’s only reply is a yelp behind him.
“Thank you,” he says.
The voice that replies is not Riley's, but Xander's. “You’re welcome.”
Spike peeks over his shoulder and smirks at the boy, but the moment is quickly lost when Xander rushes past him to a cell where Oz is huddled in a corner. Guards quickly surround them and Buffy pulls the Colonel in front of her as a shield. Buffy starts to open her mouth, but Spike quickly interrupts.
“All right. We’re in charge, so drop the guns or the cute little girl is going to make sure you’re Colonel is here is a nice bit of shish kebab for the demons you’ve got down here.”
Buffy looks back at him with surprise and a bit of annoyance, probably at the little girl quip. He shrugs.
“I’ve been doing this longer than you have, ducks. Leave the threatening to the professionals.”
Buffy pokes the Colonel with the tip of her arrow for good measure and the Colonel nods to his men. They slowly put down their weapons and one comes forward to free Oz. Xander is still closest to the doors, but Willow quickly steps forward. The boy’s arm starts to go hairy the moment she’s near.
“Will, get back,” Oz says in a strained voice.
Red looks devastated and moves away again. Xander hands Oz some clothes and helps him out of the cell. They head for the elevator keeping the Colonel between them and the soldiers. It’s a short trip back up they all get out and wait. Riley disables the elevator controls and stares the Colonel down.
“You’re a dead man, Finn,” the Colonel says.
“No sir, I’m an anarchist,” Riley replies and punches the Colonel in the face.
“Yeah!” Spike hoots. “We’ll make a man of you yet, Sonny Jim.”
Riley rolls his eyes but he does turn to Spike.
“You were right, Spike, as much as I hate to admit it. I didn’t think we—they could stoop to harming innocent people. I don’t regret what they did to you because you’re a killer, but I can admit when I’m wrong. I’m sorry.”
“Um, right,” Spike says at a loss for words. He merely nods and pushes past the others to take point. As he passes Xander, he gets a small smile from the boy. It’s enough.
“The Slayer’s dangerous is all I’m saying,” Spike says seriously.
Adam focuses on the computers in front of him and ignores Spike. He’s done nothing but tap away at the things since Spike showed up at his cave of bloody wonders. Spike just thought dealing with the kids a second time around was tedious. It has nothing on putting up with Frankenloser twice. Besides, he’s been so over cave chic since he split up with Harmony that first time.
“She does make things interesting,” Adam says in his mechanical way.
Spike turns his back and rolls his eyes. He has to keep things they way they were. That was Giles’ suggestion, but it looks like he doesn’t have to do much work. Adam’s mind is set. Just like a computer, he can’t think outside the box.
“She’s taken out everything that’s reared its ugly head in this town. What makes you different? What makes you think she won’t stop your plan?” Spike asks.
“Because I’m counting on it.”
Spike mumbles, “Always good to have a plan.”
“You said you had killed two Slayers, and yet you fear this one.”
“Buffy’s not like the others. She’s more than just a sacred duty and a pair of tits. She’s not a puppet of the Watchers either. Summers is a whole new breed. And as you well know,” Spike says looking the monster up and down, “new can be dangerous.”
“You respect her. It almost sounds as if you care for her.”
Spike blinks owlishly as if he’d just been slapped. His hands tighten into fists. Carefully, he relaxes them. Spike’s first impulse is to go for the throat, but that would be a bad idea. Adam’s just shooting his stolen mouth off, he couldn’t know the truth. Instead, he growls, “I care enough that I want this chip out so that I can rip her to pieces. By the way, how’s that coming? You have access to their whole system. You must have the plans for my chip. You know how to disable it if not remove it completely.”
Spike grits his teeth, but takes a deep breath and lets it go. “What about a sign of good faith? I’d be able to do more if it was off.”
“You’d work for me without it? I may have only been born a few months ago, but I’m not a fool.”
“You’re so unconcerned about the Slayer. Maybe you’re unconcerned about my chip.”
Adam stares at him, but does not answer. Spike’s gotten off the subject, though, and tries another tack.
“I think maybe the Slayer and her little friends are going to eat you alive, mate. If you don’t start—“
“Friends?” Adam asks, and Spike has to keep the smile from forming on his face.
“Slayer’s friends help her. They’re a hard variable to account for. They’re smart and unpredictable. They’re probably why I haven’t taken her out yet. Slayers aren’t supposed to have friends.”
“Take them away from her.”
Spike leans back on the ratty couch and pretends to consider it. “There’s an idea. Getting rid of her friends and she’ll be fighting alone, plus a pouty Buffy kind of does it for me. Almost as much as a screaming in mindless pain Buffy does. Right, leave the Scoobies to me.”
“You can’t hurt them,” Adam says.
“Whose fault is that, then?” Spike spits back, but continues. “I won’t have to hurt them. I’ll even make them do all the work for me.”
Spike leaves the cave and heads to report to Giles. Adam is starting to get on his nerves. The thing is smart, but empty. He has no flair and talks too much about his master plan. At least Angelus had the good grace to rip people’s heads off while expositizing about how wonderful he was. Spike’s ashamed that he ever worked with Adam, the two-bit hack. It’s almost as embarrassing as his ‘relationship’ with Harmony. That was a bad idea times twelve no matter how good the sex was.
At the condo, he drops in unannounced, and of course Giles hasn’t bothered to lock his door. Spike smirks at the dulcet sounds of Freebird drifting across the threshold. He quietly slips inside and pulls out his lighter. When Giles gets to the chorus, he flicks the lighter and holds it up. Giles gasps at the intrusion and grips the guitar.
“For God’s sake!”
“Don’t stop on my account. Rather listen to you sing then Adam drone on,” Spike says heading for the cabinet in the corner where Giles keeps his good alcohol. He throws the disks that Adam gave him onto the desk as he passes. At least he doesn’t need to pretend to steal them from the Initiative. There’s good bourbon inside the cabinet, so he snags it and two glasses. He pours for Giles first and hands it over.
Giles takes the glass with a nod and asks, “What have you found out?”
“Got the blighter thinking I’m going to break up the band.”
“Buffy and the others. Last time, I had them at each other’s throats. You included. Just make sure the others don’t spend too much time together in the next few days. I’ll tell Adam that I’ve split them up.”
“Right. Have you had any more thoughts on the spell we were doing to fight Adam? If the time is getting as close as you say it is, then we should be getting ready. There may be ingredients that I need to get.”
“I told you before. I don’t know much about it. Just you, Willow, and Xander were doing some sort of ceremony thing and Buffy went off and killed Adam. It could have been any number of spells. I came in after it was all over with, sorry.”
Giles takes another sip of his bourbon and frowns. “You’re putting us at somewhat of a disadvantage here, Spike.”
“Oi, you all did just fine without me last time. You’ll just fine this one. I can’t be a crutch. That’s the last thing Buffy needs. Adam may be big bad at the moment, but he’s nothing compared to what’s coming. Trust me when I tell you he’s small motors.”
“You’re not afraid of Adam, but you are afraid of something. That worries me. What is coming, Spike?”
Spike thinks about Glory. Thinks about Joyce. Thinks about the Bit waiting to be born into the world. Thinks about Buffy dying. It won’t happen this time. Chip or no chip, he’s going to have a quiet word with Ben before anyone gets hurt. Nobody is going to touch the Summers girls. Nobody.
“Spike?” Giles says again.
Spike blinks and looks back at the concern on the Watcher’s face. It’s strange to see that expression pointed his way. It’s usually reserved for Buffy or one of the others.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of things.”
“Somehow that doesn’t reassure me.”
“It should, Giles. It should. Now quit holding that thing and play something,” Spike says motioning his glass toward the guitar before finishing his shot off and pouring another.
The next morning, Spike wakes to the sound of the door opening. He sits up to see Xander standing awkwardly in the door. It reminds him of the last time when he’d convinced the boy that his friends hated him. Spike bows his head.
“Hey,” Xander says softly.
“Hey,” Spike replies.
“Giles told me what’s going on. I brought you some stuff for your…” Xander trails off as he looks around.
“Crypt. It’s a dusty, horrible crypt. I lived here a few years. I mean—the last time. I had it fixed up nice with a big underground section, but now I just don’t see the point. I’m dead, maybe I deserve a graveyard.”
“At least it’s thematic.”
Xander wipes his hands off on his backside and starts examining the tomb across from the one Spike sleeps on. The silence is loud in the confined space. Spike hates silence.
Xander keeps his back to Spike and says, “I talked to Giles about it. It wasn’t your fault. It was the ghosts. We didn’t have any control over—“
“No, I mean for what I said.”
“What did you say? Did you tell the others?” Xander says quickly, turning around.
“No, I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about last time. Adam wanted to get rid of you Scoobies. I had you all fighting each other. I really enjoyed messing with your head the most. Giles and Willow were just work. I think—I think I feel bad about it and I wanted to apologize.” Spike pauses. “And I have no idea why.”
“You’re giving me a serious wiggins, Spike.”
Spike jumps off the tomb and starts pacing. He needs to move around. He needs to escape, but it’s a typical sunny Southern California day, and he has nowhere to go. After a moment, he shouts, “You’re getting a wiggins? First of all, I feel bad. I never feel bad for other people. Secondly, I’m apologizing for being a bastard. I’m a bleedin’ vampire! And finally…”
“I wouldn’t have done this for one of the others.”
“But you did do it for me.”
Spike crosses his arms and looks away. “It doesn’t mean anything,” he spits. “It’s, what do you call it, Stockholm syndrome.”
“Right. Doesn’t mean anything,” Xander quickly agrees. He waits a moment and just as the silence starts getting uncomfortable again, he says, “So the whole, Lowell thing…we’re good.”
“Yeah, sure. These things happen.”
“Every day. Well, I mean—“
Spike smirks. Xander sees it and rolls his eyes.
“Shut up,” Xander says.
“I wasn’t saying anything.”
“You don’t have to Mr. Eyebrow, and quit doing that head tilty thing at me.”
Spike straightens up.
“I swear, I need more guy friends,” Xander whines and heads toward the door.
“What about the stuff you brought me?”
Spike watches Xander freeze. He starts to tilt his head to the side, but stops before the boy can see it.
“I forgot it at my place,” Xander says honestly.
Spike chuckles. “I’ll come get it later.”
“Right. Well I’ll let you get back to sleeping or whatever.”
The moment Xander’s out the door. Spike shakes his head at himself.
“Bye? God, I’m such a wanker.”
He flops back onto the hard tomb and tries not to obsess over every detail of the conversation, because that would mean something, something very frightening indeed.
That night, he heads back over to Giles’ to see if Willow is there, so he can explain the disks. The Watcher is still pouring over his magical texts trying to figure out the spell that Spike had witnessed the end of, with the few clues that Spike could give him. Willow is trying to work on the disks, and Spike explains that they’re set up to decrypt themselves.
“Well, now I have nothing to do. Poo,” Willow says with her best pout face on. Tara pats her on the back in support.
“You can always help me,” Giles says, holding up a book absently while reading another.
Willow takes the book from Giles’ hand and says, “Research it is.”
“Count me out, I’m just here for some blood,” Spike says and winks at Tara.
The witch blushes beautifully and stammers, “I wha…was wondering. You’re a vampire, but you’re helping th…them.”
“That is a long and interesting story, and if you would care to join me in the kitchen, I’d be happy to tell you the whole thing,” he replies holding out the crook of his arm gallantly.
“Hey, don’t try putting moves on my girl, mister. I’ve got my eye on you,” Willow says quickly.
She doesn’t notice Giles looking up from his book and gaping at her from across the table. That apparently will catch his attention away from research, the dirty old cuss. Spike tries not to snicker at the man’s expression, and lets him have at least some dignity in front of the kids. He distracts Willow by saying, “Don’t think I’m her type, Red.”
“You’re a vampire. You’re sneaky.”
“And don’t you forget it.”
Spike leads Tara into the kitchen and heats up some blood. He starts at the beginning, with him and Dru getting into town. He gives a blow-by-blow account of Parent Teacher Night, and goes on from there. It takes some time before he gets to the demon and the wish, leaving out important bits like Buffy’s death, his relationship with her, and the horrible end. He also leaves out Dawn and Glory. It’s safer for the girl if they all are taken by the spell that made her live. He wonders if his mind will be wiped as it had before, or if he will remember. Tara never flinches away from the gruesome stuff, which makes Spike proud. The other two slowly drift over as the night progresses, Willow first and then Giles. It’s after midnight when he finishes.
“It’s late. I’d better walk you ladies back to the dorms. It’s past time for little witches to be in bed,” Spike says wiggling his eyebrows and leering a bit.
Willow smacks his shoulder, but goes to gather her things. Giles yawns and walks back over to his books. Spike herds the girls out the door and yells back, “Don’t stay up too late, Watcher.” He’s surprised to get a two-fingered salute over the back of the couch and laughs merrily. Willow blinks in surprise as he shuts the door.
“I think you’re a bad influence on him,” Willow says.
“God, I hope so.”
After Willow and Tara are safely back in their dorms, Spike heads for Adam’s cave. He steels himself before going inside.
“I, my friend, am a genius. Your problem is solved,” he says smugly and walks about the room with arms spread as if preening for an audience.
“You took care of the Slayer’s friends?” Adam asks.
Spike turns away and gives a soft smile. “Always,” he says, “always.”
Spike hurries toward Adam's crypt. Time is getting short. Giles says that the Scoobies should be ready, but he still hasn't found the spell. Spike's been staying away from the others and hanging out in his crypt. He doesn't want Adam figuring out that he's not one of the bad guys. That thought makes Spike stop dead in his tracks. He curses himself for a few moments before taking an unneeded breath and letting it out. He promises himself that when this is all over, he'll kick a puppy or something to set things right. After he composes himself, Spike swaggers into the cave to see what the tin soldier is up to. He freezes when he sees Riley standing face to face with Adam.
"Bugger," he mutters under his breath, but Adam's enhanced hearing must have picked it up, because he turns to look at Spike.
"I didn't send for you, Spike," he says.
"Yeah, well...I'm not much the being sent for type," Spike responds. "I'd rather have this chip out if you don’t mind."
Riley is standing at attention and not saying a word. His eyes are blazing at Spike when he walks across in front of the man though. Spike frowns.
"What's with Corncob?" he asks.
"I've activated his chip."
"They put a chip in him too?" Spike asks still staring down Riley. "There's some irony for you."
Riley's eyes are threatening murder, but his face is blank. Spike almost feels sorry for him. He continues, "Imagine having a piece of hardware put inside of you against your will. One that prevents you from doing the most natural things that make you...you. That's barbaric, isn't it?"
The fire in Riley's eyes softens a bit. Spike mentally shakes himself. It would be so easy to leave Riley here to Adam's machinations, but it would hurt Buffy. He hates that he still has feelings for her, even after things have changed.
"What of the Slayer?" Adam asks.
"I told you I took care of her friends. She's on her own. Now she doesn't even have the boyfriend thanks to you. I did my part. I want the chip out. Now."
"That wasn't the deal. You were to separate her from her friends and deliver her to the Initiative. We have yet to see her arrive. I need her there to ensure that as many demons die as humans. She will achieve maximum carnage before she's too weak to go on."
Riley's jaw twitches under some strain, he manages to strangle out, "You can't! I knew you were behind this, Spike. There's no way they'd believe—"
"Stop talking," Adam orders.
Spike lets out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. The solider almost gave the whole game away. Adam turns to him in impatience.
Spike says, "You want her in the Initiative. Fine. She'll be there if I have to shove those disks you gave me up her—"
"Then you should go."
Spike grits his teeth. Being ordered around like a servant is not something he's used to, not since Angelus at any rate. How had he not seen the first time that Adam never intended to remove the chip? Spike steps up to Riley as he leaves.
"You should never trust a vampire, mate. They'll double cross you every time," he says slipping the soldier a small knife from his coat. Riley's eyes widen, but Spike turns for the exit in a swirl of leather.
He has plenty of time before the disks are set to decrypt. Giles will only pester him some more about the spell if he goes over there. Spike knows that Buffy would want to know about Finn, but he doesn't want her doing something stupid like rushing in to rescue him before they're ready. So he needs to avoid her as if he wouldn't be doing that already. At a loss for what to do, he remembers that Xander has some things for his crypt so he goes to the basement.
The room is dark, but it's still early evening. There's some horrid country twallop wailing on his cheap CD player. Spike lets himself in and slaps the player off. There's a suspicious lump in the covers. Spike pokes it a bit until it moves. He picks up the covers in order to rip them off, but the sight of a bare flank makes him drop the comforter like it was on fire.
"Oi, get up. I'm here to collect."
There's a muffled mumbling coming from the pillow. Spike sits down on the side of the bed. He gets no reaction.
"Right, what happened?" he asks.
"Gtfbbrd," is the response.
"What?" Spike asks. When a clarification isn't given, he elbows the lump and immediately bends in two, head between his legs as the chip fires merrily. "Argh! That couldn't have hurt him! I didn't even do it that hard!"
The yelling must get Xander's attention, because he rolls over. He pulls the blankets primly over his chest as he sits up.
"You okay?" he asks.
"Lovely. Just lovely," Spike grits out rubbing his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Now tell Uncle Spike what happened while his head turns to mash."
"I got fired."
Spike blinks a few times until his vision clears and asks, "What? From the bike shop?"
"Yeah, the owner couldn't afford having two new employees and since I was the last one he hired, he let me go. Wait, how did you know I was working at the bike shop?"
"S'not important. So why aren't you out looking for another job?"
"Why bother? They don't have anything good, and if I get a job I'll just get fired again. Maybe I should just join the Army like Riley. At least they feed you."
"Yeah and then they shoot you full of drugs and stick chips in your chest."
Spike waves him off and lies back on the bed next to Xander. His head is still throbbing. Xander looks uncomfortable for a moment before he lies back too.
"You're supposed to be from the future. Am I always going to be a loser? The whole evil thing means that you'll tell me the truth because it hurts, right?"
"You're not a loser, Xander. You're just a kid. It takes a while before people figure out who they are. I mean do you think I was always the dashingly handsome, bloody cool guy I am today?"
Xander looks over at him and asks, "What were you like when you were human?"
"We're talking about you, not me."
"But you brought it—"
"Shut up! Right, where was I?"
"Yes, now all you have to do is find something you're good at. Something you like to do."
Xander looks back at the ceiling and is silent for a few moments. Spike wants to just shove him at the nearest construction site, but Xander won't be any good to himself unless he comes at it on his own.
"I like to fix things. I helped fix Giles' place after he went all demony."
Spike doesn't hide his smile. "Well there you go. Have you looked for jobs where you fix or build stuff?"
"Like a handyman?"
"I suppose that would work, but what about something bigger, something you could make a career of."
"They're always hiring for construction around here, but I could never get a job like that."
"Well why not? It's smacking things with hammers. Doesn't exactly take a college degree, does it? They don't care about things like that. They just want someone dependable that will get the job done. And if there's anyone dependable around here it's you."
"What do you mean? I'm not dependable. I've gotten fired for it, actually."
"Who do your little mates turn to when they have a problem? Who do they know will fix it? They look at you, Xander. You make every stupid Scooby meeting. You're out there every night busting your knackers to keep the idiots of this town safe. If that's not dependable, what is? You've just got to start putting effort like that into the rest of your bloody life and quit feeling sorry for yourself, because, frankly, I'm sick of the whining. I'd eat you just to get a moments peace if I could."
Spike ignores the full on grin that Xander has on his face. It doesn't make his insides feel like jelly at all. Xander rolls on to his side and props his head up on a bent arm. They're very close on the bed and Spike can feel the boy's warmth like a siren call. He stares resolutely at the ceiling.
"Look at you all Advice Vamp."
"Wot? I can't have layers?"
"You're full of oniony goodness."
Spike turns to look at him then.
Xander goes into a full babble. "By onion I mean in the having of layers not in that you stink, because you don't. Well, sometimes you smell like cigarettes, but it's not that bad, and the leather kind of cancels it out. Which is better than smelling like pizza any day, although pizza can smell pretty good and...and..." Xander says winding down at Spike's look. "I'll stop now."
"You do that, pet."
"I just wanted to say thanks."
Feeling silly, Spike says, "I just came because you said you had some stuff for me."
"Right. Of course you did. I'll go and get it," Xander says, but doesn't move. They stare at each other, inches away, for a few moments. "Going. Anytime now."
Spike smiles and since the boy won't, he moves the five inches and presses his lips to Xander's. The kiss is soft because he doesn't want to scare Xander any more than he already has. He's surprised when a hand slides across his chest, takes his shoulder, and pulls him onto his side. They're pressed together from chest to hip. The slight warmth he'd felt before is like an explosion when they touch. Spike pushes his tongue past Xander's lips and runs his hand down the boy's sun kissed back. If it happens to move the ugly comforter off him, well that's just a bonus. Xander wraps around him and moans a bit around Spike's exploring tongue. Spike's hand slides down his hip. Xander gasps softly as if he'd completely forgotten that he was naked under the covers. The night of Lowell House had been dark and fevered. Spike wants to look and take his time. He's moved away from Xander's mouth and has started kissing and sucking at the long throat in earnest when the phone rings like St. Mark's Cathedral in the silent room. They both freeze.
Spike growls, "Ignore it."
"It's probably Willow with an Adam update. I have to."
Spike sighs and rolls away from the boy. Xander sits up and tries to get out of the bed while using the blanket as a cover. He doesn't get very far seeing as how Spike's lying on it and not about to move. After fighting for a second, Xander just blushes and runs for the phone in the buff. Spike ogles the bare backside before Xander grabs a towel to wrap around himself.
"Hello?" he says sounding winded. "No, no you didn't interrupt anything. I was just in bed and had to run for the phone, Willow."
Spike snorts. Xander throws a spatula from the little card table that doubles as his dining room. Spike catches it easily and leers again at Xander while slapping his palm with the spatula suggestively. The colors that the boy turns are very entertaining, and the towel isn't hiding his true feelings very well which makes Spike's leer even bigger. On the phone, Willow tells him that the disks have decrypted and that they're having a Scooby meeting at Giles'. Xander says he'll be there shortly and hangs up. Spike stares at him. Xander's face is a study in conflict. He obviously wants to crawl back into the bed with Spike, but instead, he grabs his clothes and hustles into the bathroom. Spike is waiting for him at the door when he comes out. They walk over to Giles' in silence. When they cross Main Street, Spike steals a copy of the local paper from the coffee shop. He slaps it against Xander's chest with a raised eyebrow. Xander smiles softly and sticks the paper under his arm.
At Giles' Willow and the Watcher are going through spell books again. Buffy is pacing.
"Ah, Xander, I see you brought Spike. Good, I thought I was going to have to go to the crypt to round him up," Giles says.
"Come up with anything yet?" Spike asks and sits in the corner chair across from the couch where Willow is hold up with a lap full of books.
"No, all of Adam's plans were on the disks just as you said they were. Unfortunately, at this point its information we already know thanks to you. There must be some way to stop this thing."
"According to Riley, his power source is a uranium core embedded somewhere inside his chest. Probably near the spine," Buffy says.
"So the magic spell stops that?" Willow asks. "What about some kind of uranium extracting spell?" They all stare at her and she cringes and says, "I know. I'm reaching."
Giles says, "I've been looking at paralyzing spells, but the best choice I can't perform."
"Don't you have to speak Sumerian or something?" Willow asks looking at the book in Giles' hands.
"I do speak Sumerian. It's not only that. Only an experienced witch can incant it, and you'd have to be within striking distance of this object."
Xander smirks and says to Buffy, "See what you get for taking French instead of Sumerian?"
"What was I thinking?" she quips back.
Spike merely shakes his head at them. How do they beat the bad guys when they can't even take themselves seriously?
Xander continues, "So no problem, all we need is combo Buffy—her with Slayer strength, Giles' multi-lingual know how, and Willow's witchy power."
Giles looks at him. Spike sits forward. Xander ducks his head at the scrutiny.
"Yeah," he says, "don't tell me. I'm just full of helpful suggestions."
"As a matter of fact, you are," Giles says. He looks over at Spike who shrugs.
It doesn't take them long at all to get prepared. Buffy leads the way to Lowell House. Giles and Spike take the rear. He's already explained the layout and where they preformed the spell the first go around and about the secret lab. They've gone over it several times, but the kids are still jittering.
"Nervous?" Willow asks.
"No way," Xander replies. "I'm full of that good old kamikaze spirit."
"Xander, just because this is never going to work, there's no need to be negative," Giles says behind them.
Spike shakes his head and says, "Is it too late to switch sides again?"
The others look back at him. They're reflected in the wall sized mirror. He of course doesn't show. There's something symbolic about it that Spike isn't comfortable with.
"Just asking," he says.
Buffy rolls her eyes and kicks in the mirror. They rappel down the shaft, kids first and then Englishmen. By the time he and Giles are at the bottom there's some kind of group hugging going on. Giles gets pulled in and he obviously has no idea what to do about it. They all move as if they're going to include Spike in the loving, but think better about it. He's more relieved than they are. Giles moves awkwardly away and uses a crowbar to get the elevator door open. There are soldiers pointing guns at them before it's even all the way apart. They're escorted to the Colonel's office.
Buffy starts, "Colonel—"
"Shut up. You've got some nerve, lady. You think you and your friends and just keep waltzing into a government installation brandishing weapons like—" the Colonel says pulling out the gourd in Giles' bag.
"It's a gourd," Willow offers.
"Magic gourd," Giles corrects looking a tad embarrassed.
"What kind of freaks are you people? It's bad enough that you're running around with a HST," he says pointing at Spike.
Buffy ignores him and says, "Adam is here, Colonel. In the Initiative."
"The only monster here that shouldn't be is that!"
He makes a gesture and one of the soldiers steps up. Before Spike can react he's hit full force with one of their stun guns. He crumples to his feet in pain as all his muscles start to spasm wildly. Through the thundering in his ears, he thinks he hears Xander and the others yell out. The pain is a hundred times worse than the chip. Two strong hands hook under his arms and he's dragged out the room. He blacks out before they're half way down the hall.
The sounds of klaxons wake him. He's aware of someone going through his pockets. Weakly he strikes out and gets a fist full of fangs. The vampire bent over him falls back on his ass. The room is oppressively white.
"Oh God. Not again," he mumbles rolling over onto his hands and knees. He has the strong urge to vomit, but holds his breath to keep it at bay. He looks around to see he's in one of the Initiative cells, only this time he's sharing it with two other vamps. There are red lights flashing on and off in the hall. The surrounding demons are making a tremendous noise that blend with the sirens to make Spike's head feel like it's going to pop open and spill its candy on the floor.
"Dude, the greens are running all over and I haven't seen a white coat in hours," the vamp by the door says. "Something's going down."
"You think?" Spike says snidely. Slowly he gets to his feet and looks at the panic going on beyond the electrified glass. "Don't worry. We're getting out of here soon."
"How would you know? You're new. I've been in here for a month."
"I know the guy that's trying to take this place down. He's moving tonight. Besides this is not the first time I've been here. Oh, and by the way, shut it!" Spike growls pulling a stake from his coat. The fact that the soldiers didn't search him is unbelievable. It's as if they don't even care anymore. Of course, they have more to worry about now. Spike stakes the vamp on the floor that had been trying to rob him. The one by the door turns with full game face. He makes about two steps before Spike kicks him into the glass. The electricity pops and throws him back further into the room. Spike brings the stake home with a snap. No sooner has the second vamp filtered to the floor than the lights go out. The cell door opens. The hall is full of rampaging demons. Spike follows the wave of bodies. The soldiers are responding at the end of the hall, but there are too many demons for them to hold back. Once they break out into the main floor, Spike starts making his way towards the secret lab. There are guns going off and a few explosions. The crackle of the stun guns and the roars of a hundred different types of demons make it hard to concentrate. He does his best to take out some of the tougher monsters on his way. He gets shot at a few times, but his speed works to his advantage. Half way across the floor, he sees Buffy bashing her way through the crowd. Giles and the others are behind her trying to move fast and not scream target. Spike jumps to the top of some oil drums and flies toward them with a roar. He lands behind a Fyarl that looks surprisingly like Giles had. Spike snaps its neck and stakes a vamp going after Willow.
"Spike!" she yells. "Are you okay?"
"Been better, ducks, now move!"
Buffy takes half a second to look behind her and see that Spike's protecting the others before she pushes ahead toward the lab. They make their way inside 314. Spike helps Buffy barricade the door with a heavy cabinet. He leans against it heavily as she goes to open the access to the secret lab. Giles sits on the floor with Willow and Xander to set up the spell. Buffy looks back over her shoulder at the others with a worried expression. Spike joins her.
"Don't worry about it, Slayer. I've got them. You worry about Adam and your Riley."
"Once I'm in, barricade the door behind me."
"Got it," he says.
She asks Giles, "How long before the ritual kicks in?"
"Five minutes, give or take," Giles replies.
Buffy just nods resolutely and disappears down a small hallway. Spike closes the doors behind her and finds another cabinet to push over the exit. He moves into the corner closest by the door they came in by and crouches down out of the way.
Giles lights a candle. Willow begins to chant.
"The power of the Slayer and all who yield it. Last to ancient first, we invoke thee. Grant us thy domain and primal strength. Accept us in the power we possess. Make us mind and heart and spirit joy. Let the hand encompass us. Do thy will."
She pulls out the tarot cards and places one before her in the center of the circle facing the gourd.
"Spiritus....Spirit," she says.
She hands a card to Xander, which he takes and places in front of him facing the gourd again.
"Animus...Heart," she says.
Giles is handed his card which he also places facing the gourd.
"Sophus...Mind," she says.
The final card is laid for Buffy in the other room.
"And Manus...the Hand."
Spike feels the hairs on his skin stand up as the magic begins to build. He's never been one for the stuff, but it was something that Dru liked to play with. Spike's seen his fair share of spells, but this one is stronger, older and the demon rattles its place inside him. He feels his fangs drop unconsciously.
"We enjoin that we may inhabit the vessel--the hand...daughter of Sineya...first of the ones... We implore thee, admit us, bring us to the vessel, take us now."
There's an upsurge of wind like the breath of god. The other's heads fall back as if they are looking towards the ceiling. Spike can hear a mingle of voices.
"We can. We are forever."
Giles lips start moving but he can hear all the voices as one again speaking Sumerian. He watches entranced when suddenly there is a bash against the door. Cursing, Spike jumps to his feet and leans against the cabinet keeping the door closed.
"Hurry up you lot!"
"Kur," the voices say together.
The door inches in under the constant assault. Spike shoulders the cabinet back into place. He looks back to see Xander's lips moving this time in conjunction with the voices.
"You could never hope to grasp the source of our power, but yours is right here."
Then it seems it's Willow's turn to lip-synch to the Greek Chorus. She speaks Sumerian just as flawlessly as Giles did before. As soon as her lips stop moving, the three drop to the ground. The door slams into the cabinet again knocking it and Spike back. He lands on the floor beside Xander just as the demon enters the room on all fours. Spike kicks out and gets the thing under the chin. Before it can gain its footing again, he's on his feet and slams down his fists on its chest. There is a loud snap and the demon gurgles before going limp.
"Giles! Talk to me!" Spike says rounding on the others.
"We're fine. Just a bit drained. It's over."
The cabinet toward the other door shutters in place. Spike hops over the limp Scoobies and pulls it out of the way so that Buffy can enter, supporting Finn. The man takes in Spike and the scraggly team. He's bleeding from his chest. Buffy is supporting most of his bulk. Spike doesn't offer to help, but to his surprise Riley holds out the knife. It's bloody. Spike glances from the knife to the man's chest.
"Thanks," Finn says.
Spike nods and tucks the knife away silently. He turns to the others and helps Giles to his feet. Willow and Xander steady each other. The noise from the outside of 314 hasn't abated.
"We've still got men out there," Riley reminds them.
Buffy looks over her friends and her eyes end up on Spike. He raises his eyebrow at her and she nods.
"You organize the soldiers, pull 'em back," she says to Riley. "I'll take point. Spike you take clean up."
"Thought you'd never ask, pet. Let's go kick some demon ass!"