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As they crossed back through the tunnel, Spike told Xander
some of the wilder rumors about the movie star who had built the house and the
“Midra!” Xander cried as he burst from the cellar door.
“What’s for lunch?”
She looked over the dusty men disapprovingly and shook her
head. “Dinner is left over chili and sandwiches and it will be in an
“Thank you, gracious lady of the kitchen. I shell return
clean forthwith.” Xander gave her a bow, and one for Willow, then bounded from
Willow turned to where Spike leaned in the doorway. “That
was a fast turnaround.” She eyed Spike’s bloody, swollen face and
Spike shrugged. “Fella needed a round of kick the Spike.
I find it works well with Scoobies.”
Both women gazed steadily at him, knowing it wasn’t the full story.
Spike rolled his eyes and gave in. “He kept calling
himself a monster, so I showed him what a real monster is like.”
Willow’s eyes widened. “You fed him your blood?”
“Just a swallow. Got through to him better than any words
Buffy had told her in detail about Dracula’s blood and
she had read up on it in her studies. “And he still lets you near him after a
senso-round experience of William the Bloody?”
Spike looked smug. “Proves my point, don’t it?”
Midra smiled a little a him, even as Willow frowned.
“You’re the one who is going to have to deal with his nightmares,” Willow
“I think he’s got plenty of his own,” Spike said as
he went back downstairs to clean up.
Upstairs, in his room, Xander leaned on the sink. He
swigged a mouthful of mouthwash in an attempt to rid himself of the tastes of
vomit and vampire blood.
Even after rinsing three times and brushing twice, the
taste of blood lingered. Then, with a shock, he realized it was a memory; one
that was not his own. “Damn.
Vampires should come with warning labels,” Xander muttered. He turned away
from the mirror, not wanting to see if he looked as bad as he felt, his arm
bands laying on the counter.
He hadn’t missed their presence until seeing them. He
picked one up, and abruptly remembered Jen adding to one of them. How had he
forgotten that? The one for his right wrist was unchanged, but inside the left
band, next to the glyph he was sure meant “home,” was what could only be a
railroad spike. Xander smiled and put the left band on.
He put on a long-sleeved shirt to cover the bruises, and
joined the others in the kitchen, hoping Midra’s chili would be spicy enough
to block out the memory of the taste of hot blood.
Gunn and Dawn were absent, but it still made for a happy
table full. The chili was indeed flavorful and the taste of blood soon faded.
“Hey guys,” Oz said. “Velvety Potato is trying out
new drummers tonight at the Treacle Room.”
Xander choked on his soda. “Velvet what?”
“Velvety Potato. It’s a band I play with sometimes. The
Treacle Room is a club.”
Xander laughed. “Velvety Potato. I like it. What do you play?"
"Covers, mostly.""So it's the Velvety Potato skins?"
Xander got a round of groans for that. “Good one. You guys are welcome to come.”
Xander frowned. “That would be like going out in the real
world, meeting new people, answering questions about the last five years, and
listening to pop references I won’t get unless maybe I managed to read the
“Yes?” Oz said.
“I don’t think I’m up to that, yet.”
“Come on,” Spike said. “It’s a great crowd.”
Xander looked doubtful. “I may get Spike to play a
little,” Oz said.
“Spike plays? What, harpsichord?”
“No, wanker, bass guitar. And quite well, too.”
“As tempting as that is, I’ll just hang out here. I’m
in the mood to veg and watch some Firefly. You go, Spike.”
Spike really wanted to go, but he didn’t want to leave
Xander after the night he’d had. He frowned at the man as he shoveled away
more chili. “You sure, mate?”
“Go ahead. I don’t need my hand held every minute.”
“Okay, then. We won’t be out too late.”
“Just don’t break any groupie’s hearts.”
“Nah. But they do have a cute roadie…” Spike smirked.
“Who? Christine the valkyre?” Oz asked.
“Yeah,” Spike sighed. “I like a woman I can climb
once in a while.”
Oz and Spike launched into a conversation about amps,
guitars, and chords that told Xander he was right to let Spike go.
He hung out in the living room watching television until he
heard Gunn come home.
Xander went to his office and poked his head in. “Hey,
Gunn was sharply dressed in a neatly tailored suit. For the
first time, he looked like the lawyer Xander knew him to be. He was still in
“professional mode” as he sat his briefcase on the desk. He waved to a
chair. “Xander! How’s everything? I have your hearing scheduled for day
after tomorrow, is that okay?”
“Yeah, great,” Xander said, staying in the door.
“Will there be a test? Any books I should crack?”
Gunn shook his head. “Just be there, know who you are,
and let me do the talking. The council and your mother have supplied me with all
the paperwork I need. We can go from there to the bank and finalize access to
“You mean get me my own piece of plastic?”
“Great. Um, Gunn? I’d like to take another look at that
list. Of people.”
“Sure! I can load it as an encrypted file onto your
laptop. Then you can do it in your own time.”
“Can we… tonight, maybe?”
“I’ve got time right now.”
Shortly after one, Spike and Oz returned. They had found a
drummer everyone seemed to click with and then played for a couple of hours.
Quietly, they made their way upstairs and parted company at the second floor
landing. Spike continued upstairs and went to Xander’s room.
He listened at the closed door and heard Xander talking.
The words were slurred, and he couldn’t make many of them out. “Xander?”
“Spike! There you are! Come in, buddy!”
Spike could now tell Xander was drunk, and closed his eyes
for a second, fearing a repeat of the Funyons event. He opened the door and
found Xander again in the floor.
This time, he had all the blankets and pillows in a pile
and was sitting naked in the middle of them, holding a nearly empty bottle of
scotch. Spike felt a guilty twinge at the dark bruises on his upper arms.
“Hey! I missed you!”
“Sure you did.” Quickly, he looked over the room and
took in the situation. He went to the laptop that sat on the table, and looked at the glowing screen. It was a spread
sheet of names, dates, pictures,
and info. The last column was labeled “New information.” Many were blank,
but some contained poorly typed things like: “best sword through gut,”
“blow to head,” “Fucked him
1ce, e never called.” “conimed him to def,”
and “Mad her a whore.”
“What’s all this about?” Spike demanded.
“Gunn.” Xander crawled out of the nest he’d made and
pulled himself up to the table. “I wanted to help him out to find more people.
So he gave me this,” Xander pointed, touching the screen. “I fucked up a lot
of people’s lives. Took a lot, too.” He lifted the bottle to his lips, but
Spike took it from him. “He gave me that, too. Gimme it back!”
“You’ve had more than enough, Xander.”
“No!” he said, reaching for the bottle.
“Yes, you have.” Spike put the bottle high on top of
the entertainment center and came back to where Xander was on his knees, one arm
up in the table with his chin on it, and looking at a picture of a smiling
woman. “They never smiled when I saw them, Spike. She was a pleaser. Because I
Spike snapped the laptop shut. “Enough of that. You’ve
done plenty of homework. Time for bed. Go clean up a little if you can, and
I’ll put the bed together.”
“But I like it in the floor. I don’t deserve a
bed. I’m a pet. I had a nice nest in Anthony’s room for the longest time.”
“No, mate. You do deserve a bed, but I don’t feel like
playing maid again tonight.” He kept his anger at Gunn tamped down for now.
Xander needed him. He lay down fully dressed, prepared to leave as soon as
Xander was asleep.
Xander didn’t even notice the vampire hadn’t taken off
his boots. He curled against Spike where he lay on his back with his hands
behind his head.
“Hey, Spike,” Xander said quietly.
Xander started running his hand over Spike’s chest.
“I’ve always thought you were nicely compact and well muscled.”
“Thank you, Xander.” He’d let Xander touch him as
long as it distracted him from the laptop and the bottle.
Xander closed his eye and nestled in against Spike’s
side, with his forehead in the crook of Spike’s neck. Spike put his arm around
the man and held him. Just when he thought Xander was going to sleep, he started
to pet Spike again. “Nice,” Xander said sleepily.
“Sure. Go to sleep.”
Xander slipped his hand under Spike’s shirt and continued
his sleepy circling. “Your skin is so smooth.”
Spike closed his eyes, wishing Xander would stop, but
expecting him to fall asleep at any second. “Died without ever having done a
day’s hard work in my life. Not even sports, unless you count croquet.”
“Croquet don’t count,” Xander murmured, circling
wider. He stopped to toy with the faint line of hair that ran down from
Spike’s belly button.
“Um, Xander,” Spike said, growing hard under the
unintentional sensual touch.
Before Spike could stop him, Xander’s hand circled again
and dipped under the waistband of his jeans where they gapped as he lay on his
back. Xander’s finger brushed the damp tip of Spike’s cock and paused.
“You know what it is, Xander. You’ve got one yourself.
Leave off the nice vampire, roll over, and get some sleep.”
“I do have one of those.” Xander thrust his erection
against Spike’s hip and pushed his hand into Spike’s jeans. There wasn’t
much room, but he managed to wrap his fingers around what he found.
Spike sucked in a breath and pulled Xander’s hand out.
“Stop it, Xander.” He fought down the urge to take what he wanted. Xander
was drunk and trusted him.
“Want it,” Xander said, and tried to breach Spike’s
Spike shoved him away and leapt from the nest. “No,
Instead of the hurt Spike expected, his face clouded and he
growled at Spike. “Get back here.”
“No, Xander!” Spike said firmly.
Xander rose to his knees. “No one refuses me! I can have
whoever I want!”
“You’re not in sodding Africa, Xander! You’re in
California. That doesn’t fly, here.”
Spike wasn’t expecting it, so when Xander lunged at him,
grabbing him around the knees and bringing him down, he fell like a chopped
tree. His head banged against the floor, stunning him.
“I get what
I want! I’m the chooser! I want you!” Xander said, straddling Spike and
pulling at his belt.
Spike’s eyes were flecked gold as he grabbed Xander’s
muscular arms and threw him backwards. He landed with a thump on his tailbone.
In a heartbeat, Spike stood over Xander. “I suggest you not get up, Xander,”
Spike said coldly. “I’m not one of your pleasers for hire.”
Xander snarled, snatched at Spike’s legs, and Spike
slapped him. “No! You could never please anyone, Spike! No wonder Angel left
Spike suddenly went still, more stung by the words than the
attack. “I’ll be back when you’re sober.”
As he snatched up the bottle and slammed the door behind
himself, he heard Xander start sobbing. He didn’t pause, but stormed on
through the house.
Drawn out by the shouting, Willow, Oz, and Dawn stood in
their doorways. Dawn drew back into her room at the sight of an angry Spike
barreling down the stairs.
“Spike? What happened?” Willow asked.
“Sodding lawyer gave the boy a nice drink to accompany
his misery,” Spike gritted without stopping as he gestured with the bottle,
making a bit slosh out of the top.
“Oh! Don’t hurt him! He didn’t know!” Willow called
“Go see to Xander!” Spike called back.
Spike crossed through the house to the ground floor rooms
Gunn shared with Midra. He raised his fist to pound on the door, but it opened
before he could strike. Gunn stood in the doorway, tying his robe belt.
“What’s the hubbub? We under attack?”
Spike bunched up Gunn’s robe with one hand, pulled the
taller man’s face down, and shook the bottle at him. “You gave this to
Xander! Left it with him!”
“Yeah, man. Going through that, I thought he’d need
Spike’s predator nature acknowledged Midra taking a protective stance behind her man, but ignored her. “Xander’s father was a very drastic, very mean drunk.” Spike spoke low and clearly, his eyes flashing gold. “Didn’t your woman tell you that the boy got drunk last night? Then you leave him alone with this to face what he did back there?” Spike shoved Gunn away so he backpedaled and landed hard against the bed. Spike glared at him as his bad leg gave out and he fell to the floor. “Xander has more courage than almost any man I’ve met. He doesn’t need this shit.” Spike hefted the bottle and at the last second fought down the urge to slam it into the wall. Instead he took a huge swallow and turned away.
Spike encountered Oz in the hallway, the small man had the stillness of the wolf about him, and Spike had no doubts he would defend anyone in the house, even against him. “You okay, man?” he asked in his calm manner.
Spike took another swallow, enjoying the burn of the good
liquor, but needing more. He needed to fight, feed, fuck, and maybe kill. And
not necessarily in that order. “Fine.
And so is lawyer boy. Look after Xander. I’m going out.” Oz stepped aside
and Spike continued on, grabbing his coat off the rack, and slamming the front
door behind him.
On to Chapter 32
The skins part of the Velvety Potato joke was from my friend Michael.
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