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They were silent on the walk home. Spike easily kept up
with the ground-eating pace Xander set. Occasionally, the man would kick a rock
that the moon highlighted on the smooth road.
When they reached the porch, Spike pulled a key from his
pocket. “We need to get you one made,” he said as he unlocked the door.
Xander stopped him from opening the door with a hand on his
arm. “Spike. Do you want…” He dropped his hand. “Never mind.”
“I’m… still a bit wired. Would you want to watch some
TV with me?”
“There’s nothing on this late, but Nibblet picked out
some good shows.”
“Yeah? Like what?”
Spike opened the door and ushered Xander in. “Did you
ever see ‘Firefly?’”
They parted ways at the second floor landing so Xander
could clean up and Spike change out of his jeans into his lounging pants. When
he stepped out into the hall, the door to Willow’s room opened, and she poked
her head out.
“Spike?” she asked quietly.
“Yeah, Red. It’s me.” He crossed to where she stood
in the open door, clutching her bath robe closed. Spike could smell the musk of
sex that mingled her scent with her husband’s.
“I heard some of what he said… How is he?” she asked
“He’ll heal. He went through a lot of shit that would
have destroyed a lesser man. I’m still not sure how he remained unbroken.”
“Okay. You need anything?”
“Not now. We need to make him his own key.”
“Of course. I’ll do it tomorrow. Thanks, Spike. Good
Spike let himself into Xander’s room and found Xander
standing nude in the middle of the room, toweling off his hair. Spike’s eye was drawn to a silvered scar high on
the inside of his left thigh next to where his furred balls hung.
“See something you like?” Xander asked, peeking out
from under his towel.
Spike shrugged and turned his attention to the stack of
DVD’s by the television. “Here’s the show.” Spike put aside the thought
of a bite scar there and what it might mean.
Xander paused. What was Spike looking at? He glanced down
and saw the scar he tried not to think about. A pang went through him.
“Spike,” Xander said close beside his friend. “It was…”
“Something you’ll tell me about if and when you want
“Yeah… sometime. So, what’s so special about this
They spent a pleasant couple of hours watching the crew of
Serenity until Xander nodded off. Spike watched the grimaces that flickered
across Xander’s features as he slept with sadness. Long ago in the basement of
doom the boy had more often smiled in his sleep. Quietly, he pulled the blanket
up to cover him and turned off the show before leaving the room.
Xander awoke abruptly and to the same feeling of loss. This
time, he knew what he sought. He thought he had asked Spike to stay, but he
guessed the vampire had no interest. He dressed and made his way downstairs.
“Good morning, Xander!” Midra cheerily greeting him in
“Morning. What’s up today?”
“Waffles if you want.”
“Waffles? Damn, it’s too bad Gunn met you first.”
Midra laughed. “We were meant to be. All the fates say
“You’re very lucky, both of you.”
“I did a reading of the bones. You won’t be lonely for
always,” Midra said as she poured waffle mix in a bowl.
Xander had learned a lot in his time in Africa and did not
dismiss her words. “Really? What’s she look like?”
“Ah! You know they don’ work like that. Just keep your
mind and eyes open.”
“Don’t you disrespect me, boy!” She said with a
Xander held up his hands in surrender. “Never. I
swear.” He watched her deftly mix the batter. “It’s comforting. The
thought there’s someone for me.”
“Where is everybody today?”
Dawn and Willow went to run errands. Oz went toward the
city. Gunn’s in the office. I think Spike’s still in the garage.”
“In the garage?”
“He takes spells of working on that bike of his. He was
out there when I went to get something from the car at dawn.”
Xander wolfed down the hot waffles and rewarded Midra with
a quick hug. “Want me to help clean up?”
“You go do whatever calls you to do.” She smiled after
him as he headed out he back door toward the garage.
Xander pushed open the garage door to the cool open area.
Two of the cars were gone and the sound of a ratchet came from behind Spike’s
car. Louis Armstrong played quietly on a radio. “Hello?”
Spike sat on a milk crate bolting the frame together.
Xander smirked at the normally tidy vampire who was now grease-smudged. “Nice
“Will be. You should have seen her when I got her. She
was covered in rust and vines.” Spike patted a fender fondly.
“What is it? It’s old, isn’t it?”
“She’s a 1941 Indian Chief. I’ve had a bitch of a
time finding some parts. Fortunately, Gunn is as wicked a blacksmith as he is a
lawyer. He reproduced that fender beside you from looking at the rusted remains
of the original and pictures off the net.”
“Sweet.” Xander pulled a crate up beside Spike’s and
reached out to steady the part Spike was working on.
Xander watched him work for a while, admiring Spike’s
skillful touch. “Midra said you’ve been out here for a while.’
“After you went to sleep, I was still wired. When
there’s no Slayers upstairs, I like to come out here and work. I don’t have
to sleep much.”
Xander handed Spike a screwdriver when he pointed at it.
“When I was first captive, sleeping was all I wanted to do.” Spike nodded,
letting Xander tell his story as he wished. “Of course, that was a two edged
As he watched Spike work with tools and grease, he let his
story continue to pour out:
The truck stopped at dusk and the short figure
reappeared. Again, the world went dark.
He woke up an unknown time later. Slowly, he opened his
eye and looked around. He was on the floor a cave and some thirty other people
were crammed in with him. “You’re awake. That’s something,” came a voice
from beside him.
“Yeah,” Xander slowly sat up and looked at the woman
who held a little boy on her lap. “Something. How long have I been out?”
“I don’t know. We woke up in here, too. And we all
have jewelry.” She held up her hands to display iron bands around each wrist.
Xander wore a matching pair. “Damn. Slavers.”
“I’m Sarah. This is my boy, Jason.”
No one knew anything about where they were or how
they’d come to be there. Everyone had a similar story to his. Capture, then
awakening in the cave with wrist bands. Their belongings and some of their
clothing were gone, along with all shoes and jewelry.
After a couple of hours, a blue-skinned demon showed up
and instructed them in poor English how to behave in order to get food. Of
course there were those who protested and shouted at the demon. More than a few
panicked, not believing what they saw. Damn it, he was hungry. Xander stood up,
brushed off his hands and went to stand where he’d been instructed.
Finally, others fell in line behind him and calmed the
rest. The demon met his eye and nodded sharply once. Xander knew he’d done
right. They all got a bowl of questionable content. Xander gave it a sniff and
determined it to be better than a lot of the things he’d had to eat in the
last year. He found a corner to sit and eat. Nothing more happened, and
eventually he curled up to sleep, accompanied by the sounds of crying and
The next day after his capture, the demons came into the
holding pen. He’d been doing his best to comfort the others and help tend the
wounded. The iron bands around his wrists with chafed and hurt. His body ached
from sleeping on the stone floor.
“The Fyarl demons came back. As much as I wanted it to be
true, I knew none of them were a middle aged Watcher. They started separating
the men from the women. I don’t know what came over me, but I had to step in
when they went to take Jason from Sarah.”
Spike knew. He knew the white hat impulses in this man
could not be squashed.
“Leave them alone!” Part of him knew he could not
change things, but a bigger part couldn’t just let this happen. Xander shoved
the demon who was pulling the screaming child’s arm. The beast turned to him
and made a gurgling noise like he was about to spit. Xander remembered what
he’d read about their hardening mucus and ducked out of the way. He was able
to get another good kick in before a second one grabbed his arms. He found
himself pulled aside along with three big men.
“Big bullies!” Xander taunted. “Can’t fight me
fair and square!”
“What are you doing? Shut up!” The man in a
once-nice business suit told him.
“Unless you got a silver dagger, I’ve got nothing to
fight with but words.”
“You know what these things are?”
“Fyarl demons. Silver kills them.”
“Fat lot of good that does us.”
“Tell me about it.”
He and three other healthy looking men were taken
into a little room and left alone for several hours. Xander demanded they
all turn out their pockets and searched for anything that might help them
escape. Apart from a roll of Tums, a rubber band, and a five dollar bill, they
had been picked clean. If he had been Spock he could have made a phaser beam and
saved them. Xander set to examining the bars and the bands instead. This place
had been there many years, and he could find no clear flaw, but he looked over
and over the joins.
“Give up! You’re driving me nuts!” The man in a
Budweiser t-shirt said after a while.
“Nope. Not gonna. I’ve been in tough situations
before. True, Buffy always bailed me out, and sometimes Willow. Well, once it
was Spike, but anyway, I’m alive, I’m not giving up.” He watched others
from the main cell being dragged past, screaming. At least two came back being
carried. They were pale, limp, and bleeding from their necks.
“They got a vampire here somewhere, guys.”
“What the hell do you know?” Budweiser got to his
feet and loomed over Xander.
“I grew up with them. Get any kind of wood through
their heart, set them on fire, or decapitate them and they’re dead.”
“Yeah, right. And If I clap real loud a fairy will get
Xander shrugged. “Then you explain that.”
A third woman was carried past, her lulling neck torn
Budweiser blanched and sat back down.
One by one Xander’s forced companions were taken from
the cell. Only Mr. Budweiser was seen again. As he was led past, the big man
turned wide eyes to Xander. “God damnit, you were right,” he muttered.
Then it was Xander’s turn. He stood and stepped out as
the green demon came for him. “Right. My turn at an interview. So what’s the
big boss like? What’s his favorite sport?” The demon snarled at him in a
manner that clearly translated as “shut up.” “Golf, huh?”
He was taken down a long rough tunnel and to a heavy
door set in the stone. The goon leading him knocked once before opening the door
and shoving him in.
Xander gained his balance and looked around as the door
closed behind him. The stone walls were covered with a bright mix of cloth
hangings and tapestries. The floor was layered with rugs. It appeared to be an
attempt to make the room warm, but instead Xander felt he’d been eaten by a
giant who had been chewing on bits of string. The only furnishings were a heavy
table with a padded chair by it near the door and a massive carved chair that
could only be a throne. There were a few books, papers, and a cup of writing
implements on the table.
Xander looked wearily around. As nice as the carpet felt
to his feet and as inviting as the chair was, he remained standing. There was no
way he was here alone. “Hello? You placed an ad for a doughnut boy?”
If he hadn’t been expecting it, the sudden appearance
of his host would have startled him. Xander stood steady and looked over the man
before him. He was much taller than Xander, maybe by four inches. His skin was
so dark as to reflect back the lamp light. His hair hung in heavy dreadlocks to
his waist and jewels winked in the length. He wore the bright red, heavily
detailed robes of a chief. His brown eyes were intelligent.
Xander nodded to himself. This had to be the vampire.
“I’m afraid I’ve misplaced my resume. Maybe I can get my staff to fax one
over,” he quipped.
“What need would I have of seeing the resume of a…
doughnut boy?” His voice was as deep and rich as the colors in his robes. He
spoke in clear, clipped English that reminded him of Giles.
“It’s not just doughnuts, you see. I can serve beer,
deliver pizzas.” He pointed and winked. “And I once made a fair amount of
money dancing, but we won’t speak of that.”
Xander tried to read the man before him but it was
impossible. What the hell. He was probably going to be killed soon anyway. He
screwed his most winning grin in place and waited.
Just when he was readying a new line of quippage, the man spoke. “You are not as
afraid as others.”
Xander shrugged. “I’ve been around, seen a lot.”
“But not this!” Suddenly the man was in game face
and had raised his arms to make himself look even taller.
Xander grabbed up a pencil from the cup. “Actually, I
have. And that ‘make myself look big’ stuff only works with kittens.”
The vampire hesitated, and Xander pressed on. “Yeah ,
that’s right, I know all about vampires! I’ve had William the Bloody do my
laundry and Angelus buy me a beer!”
“I never did your laundry.” Spike cut into his story.
“It was bluster, Spike. There was no getting out of there
“And it was Angel bought you a beer, not Angelus.”
As much as Spike admired Xander’s strength in his story, he couldn’t let
these slights pass. He saw some of the growing tension drop from Xander’s
shoulders and considered his interruption a success.
The vampire scoffed. “What do you know of the Scourge
“Plenty. Angel’s hair sticks up and Spike likes
cereal in his blood.”
The creature’s arms dropped. “Spike? The warrior who
won his soul?”
“Oh yeah. That Spike. The Big Bad himself. Doing my
“He’d heard of me?” Spike searched his mind for who
this mysterious vamp could be.
Xander nodded. “You’re quite respected down there.
Legend really. You’re the only demon to win back his soul and survive longer
than a week afterwards in over two hundred years. Not that many made it out of
the cave, even.”
“You’re shitting me!” A legend? For something other
than bloodshed? Amazing.
“Spike, let me tell the story.”
The vampire’s features smoothed back to human.
“Have a seat.”
“What? I drop names and suddenly I’m in the in
“There have been rumors about the fall of the Scourge.
I wonder if perhaps you do know something.”
Spike interrupted Xander’s tale. “Fall! Bloody never
did! I’m still…”
“Spike!” Xander glared at the repeated interruption.
Spike held up his hands in surrender and let Xander tell his tale. Truth be told, he was mad at himself for interrupting now that he was getting the information he’d been wanting. If he read all the signs right, this vampire was Xander’s Anthony.
On to Chapter 14
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