PAIRING: Spike, Clem (friendship)

RATING: PG

SPOILERS: Set in S7 right after LMPTM; mild foreshadowing for 'Chosen

SUMMARY: Spike has a request

NOTES: Title inspired by the Doors. Flashfic written for chrismarlowe. Beta'd by rabid_x! and LadyCat

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My Only Friend, The End

At the sound of the door crashing open, the demon nervously sprang to his feet, hastily tucking his hands behind his back.

"Spike! Oh hi, how you been?" Clem blurted out, when he recognized his late visitor.

Spike strode into the crypt in a swirl of gleaming black leather, looking very much like a man - or vampire - on a mission. His face was bruised and a black scorch mark marred the vampire's jaw, but from the looks of it the injuries were already healing.

A nod: "Clem."

"Hey, what's up? I see you're wearing your coat again," Clem said, a worried note creeping into his amiable chatter. "Does that mean you're. like, I dunno.. evil again?" The unspoken question being: 'Do you want your crypt back?'

"Don't worry, mate," Spike told him. "Soul's still here, if that's what you're wondrin' about. And the evil? Been there, done that, m'through with it. I just came over to-hey, is that a cat behind your back?"

Clem looked a mite sheepish and brought forth the squirming, spitting, scratching kitten that he'd hidden behind his back. "I was just about to have dinner," he confessed, giving Spike a toothy smile. "Would you like one? There's plenty where this one came from."

"Nah," Spike dismissed the invitation with a flick of his wrist. "I'm good. Just been to Willy's. Wouldn't say no to a drink though."

"Oh, sure. Right away, Spike. Meanwhile. uh. make yourself at home."

Spike shrugged, looked around and chose one of two badly-matched but comfortable looking armchairs.

Meanwhile, the floppy-eared demon stuffed the hissing kitten back into a large pet basket that sat on the ground, next to the other arm-chair, then bustled to the stone bier that served as his kitchen counter. He rummaged around in it and unearthed an almost full bottle of bourbon and a glass. He gave the glass a quick polish with a clean tea towel before handing it over. "Did you watch last night's episode? I'd have thought they'd make more out of their night at that K-Mart."

Spike poured himself a stiff drink, then stared at it for a moment, lost in thought, before tossing it back. "Haven't watched in a while. Was kinda tied up," he replied and poured himself another one, trying to remember the last time he'd actually watched television.

"I've got all the episodes taped, if you want-"

Spike just shook his head.

"Can I get you anything else?"

"You're mighty nervous tonight," Spike observed, eyebrow arched in surprise. "You expecting someone?"

Clem shook his head, causing his ears to flap. "No, I've got time. You wanna veg out? Hey, we could watch Loony Toons-I've got all the episodes on tape. Roadrunner, Sheep Dog, the works. And I've got Cheetos. Or d'you wanna go play cards?"

The demon's eagerness made Spike cringe. "Sorry. I know I haven't been a good mate lately. Had a lot on my mind. Literally."

"It's okay, Spike, I know you're busy training all those girls. Helping the Slayer. That's way more important than. you know-" Clem shrugged.

Spike sighed. "Don't know if I'm that much use to her. Or anyone." He drained his glass and rolled it thoughtfully between his palms. "Sucks when evil doesn't have a proper butt to kick. Wish there was actually something I could fight and kill in good conscience. Something satisfyingly nasty. Not some mama's boy schoolmaster with a bee in his bonnet."

Clem listened politely although - as usual - he had no clue what Spike was ranting about.

"Look," Spike continued. "I don't know how much you heard, but things 'round here are gettin' a bit out of hand. Maybe you should clear out, visit your cousin-just for a bit, mind-till the Slayer has dealt with this year's apocalyptic world-domination scheme. God knows why this crap always has to hit the fan this time of year."

Clem shifted nervously. "Then it's true?"

"What is?"

"They say the Hellmouth is finally going to open and devour us all. I heard about this shaman and she said it looks like Mordor's backdoor; there's a whole army waiting down there."

"All the more reason for you to take a vacation."

Spike was just sealing a decision Clem had already made. Clem would settle his affairs here and then he'd get the hell out of Dodge. If this place went down, Clem didn't want to go with it. "I have a brother in Iowa. I always promised to take a sniff at his litter."

Spike smiled.

"So, what brought you here?" Clem asked. "I mean, you didn't come here just to warn me, did you?"

"Actually, I wanted to ask you a favor."

"Sure. What is it?"

"Almost got killed tonight." Spike rubbed his burnt jaw then looked thoughtfully at his soot-blackened fingers. "Got me thinking. When I'm-if I don't make it-'s not like it matters, it's stupid really, but would you light a candle for me? I know it's not gonna make any difference either way but-oh forget it. Just forget it."

Spike shook his head and finished his drink, then got to his feet.

"Don't worry Spike, you'll be fine." Clem hastened to tell his friend. "Hey come on, you said it yourself: You survived Angelus, three Slayers, the Initiative, that Adam-cyborg, a hell-god and Lurky's trials. You're gonna be around for a very long time."

Spike felt a brief chill.

But then the crypt had always been drafty.

"Yeah, you're probably right. Well then, gotta be off." Spike strode towards the door, then paused to look back at his friend. "You think she's gonna choose Pacey?"

"Joey? She might."

"Girl ought to make up her bloody mind." Spike went through his duster pockets until he came across his cigarettes, then lit himself a smoke. Instead of snuffing the little flame he regarded it for a moment. Then, with a shrug, snapped the lighter shut. "Make sure you tape the whole lot. I wanna see how it ends."

And then he was gone.

THE END