Spies Like Us part 2
Disclaimer: Do not own a single Mutant Enemy character in this story. Not a one. So, if you insist on suing me, I must warn you I have few possessions worth an hour of your lawyer's time.
Spike and Oz found out before the rest of the gang.
Of course Spike started in with the innuendo right away. Saying stuff like: "How's the uncover work going, Droopy?" or "Don't be too sucked up in the job, mate" or Xander's personal favorite, "I really appreciate you bending over… backwards to help me out, Xander".
Xander was so worried about Buffy and Willow and Giles finding out about his relationship with Riley he was extra careful not to clue them to it. He carefully considered what he said about Riley and how he said it. He was even more careful about how he acted during his regular briefings to the gang. Despite all his caution, all his fear, it never entered Xander's mind that Spike didn't need anything but his nose to catch on.
All it took was Xander forgetting to shower before leaving the frat house one morning. He was late for work and rushed straight to the pizza parlor. Usually when he stayed overnight at the frat house, Xander set Riley's alarm clock to go off an hour before he had to be at work. That way he had enough time to shower in Riley's room and swing by the Basement of Doom for a change of clothes.
Xander forgot the set the clock. So of course when he showed up at Giles's place to give his weekly report on Riley and the Initiative he reeked of Riley-sex.
Oz didn't say anything about the scent so Xander didn't realize Oz knew until he figured out how Spike guessed. Oz knew about Larry, too, Xander concluded after he thought about what else the werewolf smelled on him over the years. Oz never said a word or hinted he knew so there was a chance he wouldn't say anything to the girls or Giles about Riley—Xander hoped with every fiber of his being that was true.
Xander was more concerned about Spike snitching. Although he was Spike's best chance to find out how to get the chip out of his head, Spike was capable of anything, being Satan's minion and all. It was also just as likely Spike wouldn't say anything at all. Hell, he was demented enough to want Xander to sleep with the enemy, as it were, if it got the vampire closer to "eating" properly. Hopefully, the fact Spike was a self-centered bastard would work for Xander instead of annoying the shit out of him.
Spike continued making sneaky gay jokes at Xander's expense (but he heard worse coming from his parents), but it was all good as long as he didn't inform. That didn't mean Xander didn't want to send Spike to that big dustbin in Hell. Especially since he knew it was only a matter of time before the blackmail started.
"Look here, mutt, I need cash," Spike said in lieu of a greeting, then barged his way inside the basement. Spike wasn't wearing his trademark leather duster, but did wear a familiar ensemble: a tight black Tee shirt, equally snug black jeans, and Doc Martins, which were black once but were so scuffed, either by time or design, they were almost gray. Sunnydale was in the midst of a heat wave and the temperature stayed in the high nineties even after the sun went down and Spike looked cool as a cucumber; a human being would be drenched in sweat wearing the same kind of clothes.
"Come in, Spike! Pull up a chair! Can I get you a drink? O-negative okay?"
"Cut the crap, numb skull," Spike said after taking up Xander on his entirely sarcastic offer to sit down in the old lounge chair Xander found at a garage sell. Spike hoisted one lean, muscular leg over the arm of the chair after sprawling himself all over it like a ninety pound Nero. "I need money and I need it yesterday!"
Xander gave the vampire the Stank Eye and crossed his arms over his chest. "Maybe you should sell your blood if you're so hard up," he said. "Although I suppose that'd be kind of ironic," Xander added, grinning.
Spike glared at him and barked, "Don't give me lip! In case you've forgotten I have your sorry little life in the palm of my hand."
"Spike, you need to leave now," Xander said, his voice low and warning.
"You need to realize I got you by the balls," Spike replied. Then grinned at Xander and said, "Of course, you'd probably like that sort of thing."
"I'm sick and tired of you taking verbal pot shots at me, Spike!"
Spike waved his hand at Xander with a limp-wrist and said, "Oh, I'm just poking fun at ya."
"Not without my money."
"You're not getting dime one from me, Fangless!"
Spike stood and stretched lazily, gratuitously displaying the lean, muscular lines of his body and looked at Xander knowingly. Every so often since Spike found out Xander was gay, sometimes he would do something lewd with his body like grab his crotch or rub his chest when Xander was looking. Spike was under the impression doing stuff like that would get Xander's tongue wagging. What he failed to grasp was that even if he weren't an evil, undead bloodsucker, Xander still wouldn't want anything to do with him. Xander wasn't going to settle for a meaningless sexual relationship anymore, no matter how good it'd feel (though Xander loathe to admit it, Spike probably was very good in bed), not after finding what he had with Riley.
"Then I guess I'll head over to the Watcher's," Spike said when he was done stretching. "Ask him for the dosh. But what bit of information can I offer in exchange, hmm?"
Xander knew Spike might try something low and despicable as this, the only surprise was how long it took Spike to exploit his knowledge. Xander waited until Spike sauntered over to the door before he called out to him. Spike turned around, grinning triumphantly.
"What's up, ATM—I mean, Xander?"
Xander gritted his teeth and turned away before he screamed. Xander went over to the bed and picked up his discarded jacket. He got his wallet out of the side pocket and pulled out seventy-five dollars he put aside just for this occasion.
"Here, fucktard," Xander said when he handed Spike the cash.
Spike ignored Xander's insult and began counting the bills. When he was done he looked at Xander and said, "This all? How is this supposed to help me live at the level of comfort to which I'm accustomed?"
Xander doesn't know what his face looked like at that moment, but whatever he looked like was enough to make Spike run out of the basement.
Xander threw his jacket back onto the mattress with curse on his lips then sat down hard on the bed. He buried his face in his hands and moaned. It was clear he could not go on paying Spike blackmail money. He had to scrimp and save just to make that payment. Rent and food, plus putting a few bucks away towards his regular savings didn't leave Xander much room to splurge on a medium one topping pizza, never mind regular blackmail payments.
At least the money he gave Spike bought him time, Xander figured about two weeks, maybe less. He'd have to tell Riley everything, the girls and Giles, too. The only question was whom he would inform first.
Giles was knocking back pretty, amber-colored liquor by the time Xander got to his apartment. He shook his head when he saw Xander and the reproach Xander saw in the older man's eyes said, 'You are and have always been a major disappointment to me.' Spike was idly thumbing through four neat one hundred dollar bills, whistling a jaunty tune on Giles's couch.
"You unbelievable bastard," Xander said. He wanted to sound outraged, but he half-expected Spike to do this, anyway.
"What can I say, the pay's better on the good side of town," Spike replied.
"Care to explain yourself, Xander?" Giles asked, then gulped down the remaining liquid in the glass. He didn't wait for Xander's reply, he turned his back on him and moved over to the decanter sitting on the coffee table in front of Spike, whose booted feet were propped on it, and refilled the glass.
Xander's first impulse was to prostrate right away and whine I'm sorry repeatedly. But he was tired of saying that to Giles. He's said it so much to the Watcher it's lost all significance. Besides, he wasn't ashamed of Riley or himself being with Riley.
Xander steadied himself physically and emotionally before he answered Giles. He took a deep breath and said, "I don't have to explain myself. I didn't do anything wrong."
That brought Giles eyes back on Xander quick, the drink in his hand held motionless chin high. "Pardon me?"
Xander's statement caught Spike's attention as well and the vampire stopped riffling through his money. His ears and bloodlust had perked up, he looked eager at the prospect of row between Xander and Giles. It was Xander's guess strife of any kind was attractive to a violence-starved vampire like Spike.
"Giles, I did my job and I never lied to you," I wish I could say the same to Riley, Xander thought ruefully. "The rest is none of you business."
"Ho-Ho!" Spike crowed and re-arranged himself on the couch. He was settling in for the show. Spike looked like he needed popcorn.
Giles downed the rest of what was probably his fourth glass of pretty, amber-colored stuff and very carefully set the glass down on the table. Xander was startled on the inside, subconsciously he expected Giles to throw the glass across the room. He wasn't used to drunks being so careful, so deliberate, especially when they were upset.
"Do you have any idea of the danger you've placed yourself in?" Giles asked.
"Yes, danger, you…" Giles snatched his glasses off his face and looked down for a moment, replaced them then looked at Xander again. His face appeared calm, but Xander did not miss the snarl that almost claimed it, or its heated flush. "Xander, the Initiative is an organization with vast, far-reaching influence. If you're discovered spying on one of them--"
"I know that, Giles," Xander said in exasperation. "We were willing to take that risk. I was willing, remember?"
Giles couldn't control his outrage and let out a frustrated growl. He huffed and puffed for a few moments, his blue eyes blazing. He stared at Xander like he wanted to hit him.
"Xander," Giles continued after he calmed, "you weren't supposed to… get that close to Finn. It is likely the Initiative closely monitor their agents."
"So, what, you think they looked into my back round?" Xander asked, suppressing a snicker. "Come on, what are they going to find? My parents like the drinky-drinky? My aunt is so hard up for a man she'd probably date Spike?"
"Up yours, mate."
"Besides, me and Riley are careful--"
"Hope so," Spike said. "You humans got so many nasty diseases swimmin' around in you, you should be labeled bio-hazards!"
"Shut up, Spike!" Xander snapped.
"Never mind him," Giles said. "Xander, there's no telling what kind of investigating they'd use. There may be surveillance on your house!"
"I don't think…" Xander trailed off and tried to remember if there was ever a time when Buffy or Willow was over to the basement and they talked about anything sensitive. No, there wasn't a time. The girls don't hang out there, not if Xander can help it. He didn't want to be there, why inflict that hellhole on his friends? The only time Xander talked about anything having to do with Slayers and slaying, the Hellmouth itself, in the basement was with… Uh-oh.
"Watch out, Droopy's thinking. His head might explode all over ya," said the devil on Xander's mind: Spike.
"That's… that's very unlikely," Xander said, though the certainty he'd pulled around him like a shield a few moments ago was cracking.
"You can't know that," Giles replied.
"If they know, Riley would know, too, and he doesn't," Xander said. "He… he wouldn't be with me if he did."
"Xander, he could be…"
"No!" Xander didn't scream, but his voice barked. He didn't want to hear another word from Giles about Riley. He didn't want to hear Giles voice fears he was beginning to have himself. "You don't know everything!"
"It's obvious you have deep feelings for Finn and they are clouding your judgment. After everything Buffy went through with Angel, I can't believe you don't see how dangerous your actions are!"
Xander stared at Giles silent, stunned. Then when it sunk in what Giles said, Xander found it very, very hard—almost impossible—to control his anger. "Are you…?" Xander couldn't finish. His jaw creaked; the tension building in the muscles in his neck, jaw, and cheeks actually made it hurt to talk. Xander quickly circumvented his anger and forced a grin to his face.
"Oh, yeah, me and Riley? Exactly like Buffy and Angel. All the romance, all the gut-wrenching drama, not so much with the corpse humping, and nada on the homicidal rampages, but, goddamn, it's just like looking in a mirror!"
"This is no bloody joke!" Giles shouted. The funny thing, Xander didn't flinch, not even on the inside.
"Comparing me and Riley to the disturbed melodrama that is Buffy and Angel is what I call the epitome of hysterical."
"I knew it was a terrible idea to let you take on such an important task," Giles said, "I knew you lacked the maturity necessary to accomplish anything so important."
"Yeah, maybe," Xander replied the grin gone from his face. "And maybe you can forget about me taking on any more tasks for you period."
"Now wait," Spike spoke up. "Let's not start saying things we don't mean."
"I think that may be for the best," Giles said, the tightness in his voice shifted from angry to detached and patronizing. Hearing it sent Xander's blood pressure through the roof.
"Go to Hell," he said and turned around and left the apartment. He wanted to tell Buffy and Willow personally, but if he had to go through with them what he just did with Giles, no fucking thanks! Xander walked away from Giles's complex seething right down to his toes. A few moments later, he heard footsteps coming from behind him then, Spike was walking beside him.
"What do you want?" Xander grumbled at him, his eyes focused on the stretch of sidewalk ahead of him. It was almost full-on nighttime; Xander figured he could get to the campus before darkness fell completely over Sunnydale.
"C'mon, mate, I'm sure the Watcher didn't mean what he said back there. Blowing off steam, I bet he was," Spike said. His accent more cockney than Xander's ever heard it, and friendly on top of that. He looked at Spike.
"What the hell do you care if he meant what he said?"
"You truly wound me, Xander! I hate to see two courageous and upright blokes fall out because of a misunderstanding."
Xander stared at Spike and for a brief moment was stupid enough to accept Spike's reasons. The stupidity only lasted a moment, thankfully. "Forget about ever getting that chip out, Spike."
The friendly expression on Spike's face vanished like a wisp of smoke after a strong wind. "You bugger! You plonker, after everything I done for you!"
Xander stopped walking and shouted in Spike's face. "Done… Are you kidding? You sold me out like three seconds after I paid you!"
"And it's my fault you're so damn broke you can't pay decent blackmail?"
"Oh, man," Xander groaned and started walking again. The thing was he couldn't even stay mad at Spike. It was like blaming a dog that hasn't been house-trained for shitting on the carpet.
"Well, who needs ya! The Scoobies are better off without a naff like you mucking up things!" Spike yelled after Xander.
Xander stopped. It took him the span of a few deep breaths before he calmed down. He turned around and stared at Spike with a still expression. "Say, Spike, are you still living in that crypt, the one in Sunnydale Cemetery?"
Spike gave Xander a wary look before he answered. "Yeah. Why?"
Xander smiled and casually replied, "No reason, no reason. See 'round, Spike."
Xander turned and walked away, leaving Spike to ponder the future behind him.
Graham let Xander into the frat house. He smiled and Xander managed to return one, but it was weak. Not even the eye-candy Graham provided wearing a tight white T-shirt, and hip-hugging jeans (displaying a tantalizing hint of hip), was enough to inspire anything more than a wane smile out of Xander.
Xander moved through the house, ignoring the other residents as he weaved passed them to get to Riley's room on the ground floor. When he got outside Riley's door, Xander let himself in without hesitation. He never was one for fancy phrases the way Giles was, but the words: If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well, it were done quickly, kept repeating in his mind.
Riley sat on the floor, his back against the side of the bed facing the door. He wore his gray UC Sunnydale sweatshirt and a pair of faded blue jeans. He was barefoot. Riley held an open textbook in his left hand; in his other hand, he held a yellow highlight marker. Riley finished striking a line across a page with the marker before glancing up at Xander.
Jesus, it's like déjà vu …
"Hey," Riley said, snapping the book shut. He stood and tossed the book onto the bed, then capped the marker and tossed it, too.
"'Sup," Xander greeted, his arms folded over his chest. He hadn't come here with the intention of being defensive, but already he was trying to protect himself before the truth left his mouth.
"Thought you were going to spend time with your girls?"
Xander shrugged. "Plans of mice and men," he said.
"Well, if you're up for it, I wanted to get out of town. You got the weekend off, right?"
"Yeah. Where to are we going?" Xander asked, willing his legs to move until he started walking over to Riley.
"Wine country, baby!"
Xander stopped an arms-length away from Riley and gave him a look.
"Okay, okay, the 'baby' was unnecessary."
"The possibility exists."
"We're going to Napa."
"What's in Napa?"
"Rolling hills, vineyards, and the prettiest sunsets you ever did see."
Xander grinned and said, "I love when you talk hick like that."
"So, after we drop by your place and get you packed, we can be checked into a cabin and lying in front of a roaring fire in a few hours," Riley said.
"What about--?" Xander was going to ask what about the Initiative. Over the months, Xander figured out Riley's schedule, the paramilitary parts, too. His TA responsibilities were flexible, but the Initiative required Riley front and center without fail, day or night. It didn't fit that they'd let Riley go for a whole weekend.
"What about what?"
"Nothing. I'll be glad to go… but I… want to… Riley, I love you."
Riley shoved his hands into the back pockets of his blue jeans and smiled. "I love you, too," he said.
Xander tried to smile but the effort only made his lips quiver. Aw, man, why does he have to stand there looking so sweet and earnest?
"I'll hold you to that."