by Erin
January 2005

The Bronze. Supposedly the gathering place for the youth of Sunnydale, the perfect place to find the Slayer, according to the minions at the warehouse. Looked more like the perfect buffet for vampires. Humans of every sort crowded together, drinking, dancing, filling the air with the sound of their chatter, the heat of their bodies, the scent of their lust. A siren call to any vampire.

Spike rather thought he'd be paying this place another visit, after he'd taken care of the Slayer problem. Maybe bring Drusilla with him, see that she got some entertainment with her food. And it'd be right entertaining, so many humans in such a small place, all of them screaming, trying to run and no place to go. It'd be a bloody slaughter, in the literal sense. Drusilla would love it. She could be princess of the ball and he'd bring her treat after treat.

"Yeah, a real party," Spike said aloud, smirking.

A passing girl paused and smiled back at him, batting eyelashes thick with mascara -- too thin, but tall; she'd be a runner, maybe a screamer too; could be he'd find out later. Not what he was after at the moment though, so he slid past her -- a slow slide, letting his hand graze over her stomach, bared by her mid-drift shirt, darkly tanned skin warm against his fingers. Her breath caught. He was close enough to hear it, see her pink lips part, moist and inviting. And he moved on, leaving her standing there, frozen like a sweet little doe that didn't know just how close the wolves really were.

She'd be a bit of fun, later. And there were plenty more where she came from, all tarted up in their bright clothes and thick make-up. Bodies of all types shown off with too short skirts and tight tops, skin so pale his lovely Drusilla would be envious, and want to scratch them until there was enough color there to suit her. Sun darkened to naturally dusky skins, and some so deeply black it made him want to bite, just to see the contrasts, the shock of bright red against dark.

It was a sweet temptation, a wanton display laid out around him, ripe for the picking. It'd been too long since Spike had hunted proper, seduced his food, gave it a glimpse of the monster beneath the human facade, then let it run from him, screaming for help, then begging for his non-existent mercy just before he ripped its throat out. Not since before Prague. There'd been no time after that, just hiding and nursing Drusilla, grabbing whatever he could find off the street in the -- most times -- vain hope that she'd eat.

This was different though. A new place, new prey, a hellmouth and a slayer. He'd bring bits of the Slayer back for his Drusilla; she liked eyeballs and he'd give her those, wrap them up in the entrails. Give her something to make her feel good again. Then they'd hunt together, come here and pick and choose their meals, toy with them and drain them slowly, feel the life and warmth slipping from their sweet, ripe young bodies. Just like old times. No more of this chanting and mystical shite the Anointed One seemed to get his jollies from, just hunting and playing and killing, the way vampires were meant to.

Spike knew what he was looking for, gaze sliding over the mass of writhing bodies before him, gyrating to the beat of some bit of music that could've been worse, but didn't hold up against the pure, screaming poetry of the Pistols. Blond and petite, and didn't that just describe half of the bints wandering about there? But a slayer...Spike would know her when he saw her, but not with his eyes, he'd feel what she was. He always had before.

A flash of blond streaked hair and -- no just another bit of vampire bait, dancing with her boy, laughing together, all ignorant of how low they were on the food chain. They moved away, drawn into the crowd, leaving a momentary gap in the sea of bodies and --

"Well, now," Spike said under his breath. "And what do we have here?" He slipped into the mass of dancers, eyes firmly fixed on his new distraction.

Not the slayer, not even the right gender, but for the moment, enough to tempt him away from his search. Tall, dark hair that was cut just a little too short, dancing by himself with obvious disregard for how he looked. Which was really...pathetic. No sense of rhythm or style -- god no, not with those eyesores passing themselves off as clothes. He made...some sort of flailing motion that might've come close to resembling a dance move in a very alternate universe -- and smacked his arm into the face of the man dancing behind him.

"Whoa! Sorry there." He turned to grin at the other man. Such a wide, guileless expression, Spike noted as he drew close; so very, very innocent. That would be sin itself to corrupt. Drusilla would eat him up in pieces and Spike just might have to help her there.

Oh, Spike had a type. He'd never made a point of lying to himself about that. Dark hair, dark eyes, tall and vulnerable; it was how Drusilla kept him wrapped around her dainty little finger -- and how he'd ended up shagging Angelus a time or two, back in the day. Spike did like his women, liked them soft and wet and curves that fit him in so many good places, but show him the right man, the right type, and he'd make exceptions. Angelus, for all his annoying sire routine, could be so sweetly...needing...when the mood took him. Wanting someone there to touch him, hurt him, and Darla hadn't always been around. Yeah, those were the days.

Long gone now, but Spike still had his desires, his own needs, and it was rare enough; Drusilla indulged him. Sometimes played along with him. And she'd want to play with this one.

This dark, innocent, boy who was already in over his head, waiting for the wolves to take him.

"Hey! Come on, man; it was an accident!" The boy was backing up, step by slow, reluctant step, hands in the air as the other man -- so much broader, stronger -- advanced on him.

"No problem, Xander; we'll talk about it." He cracked his knuckles. Such a cliché, but the boy--Xander--flinched and took another step back.

Standing right behind the boy now, Spike caught the larger man's eye and...smiled. Nothing more than that, just a smile. And the man -- nothing more than an overgrown teenager, really -- froze.

Eyes widening, he backed up, off and away, quickly disappearing into the crowd. Leaving behind a girl who yelled, "Larry, wait up!" and hurried off after him.

Maybe just a kid, but one smart enough, or with enough of a survival instinct, to recognize his own mortality staring him in the face. Which was more than Spike could say for Xander, who backed right into him.

"Wha--hey!" Xander spun around -- although it was more of a stumble as he struggled to regain his balance. "Oops. Sorry. So not having a great night here." The last was muttered under his breath, nothing a human would've heard.

Brown eyes, soft and bright and yeah, there was that sweet vulnerability, innocence asking to be taken, used. Spike's smile giving way to a smirk. And Xander was grinning again, that wide, open expression that didn't dim in the slightest as Spike stepped just that much closer. No survival instinct in there at all, begging to be a victim.

Spike was happy to help out.

"So, it's Xander, eh?" Another half step closer and he found he had to raise his eyes, just a little to meet Xander's gaze. Taller than him, the boy was; Spike liked that. It always made the prey feel safer when they were bigger.

"Uh, yeah -- and, hey! Giles talk!" Xander's grin widened.

"Giles?" Spike let his gaze travel down, taking in the generous mouth, the lightly tanned skin that looked smooth, made Spike's fingers twitch with thoughts of touching it, letting his hand slide over that long neck, tear that mess of a shirt off him and see what was hiding under there.

"Um, English! I mean, you're English." Xander was talking loudly, probably just enough for a human to hear over the blaring music, but to Spike it was akin to shouting and he wondered if he could get Xander off of the dance floor, guide him somewhere dark and quiet.

"Yeah, that I am." Spike pitched his voice louder and forced his eyes back up to those lovely brown ones. Similar to Drusilla's, now that he gave it a thought. Oh, there was more sanity in these eyes than was ever to be found in his dark princess', but the color, the softness there, it was the same. "Hail to the Queen and all that bollocks," he said with a soft, amused snort.

" you know Giles?" Xander jammed his hands into the pockets of his pants as he spoke, giving Spike a look of open curiosity, interest. "I mean, I'm not saying that just because you're English that you guys know each other, because it's a pretty big Island -- it is an island, right? Another whole country and lots of people and you can't know everyone. It's just that we don't get a whole lot of English-speaking people around here. Except that we do because we all speak English, just not English English, the American sort of English, you know? And I think I'll just shut up now before I sound any more stupider. Stupid." He rolled his eyes and a momentary look of exasperation crossed his face before the grin returned, more muted this time.

"Never heard of the bloke," Spike answered the original question, his smirk widening. God, could the boy ever prattle on. Drusilla would love it. Had a nice voice, he did; Spike couldn't say he minded it much himself. But he didn't care to hear it shouting any more.

"Listen, mate," he stepped closer, nearly touching now, well inside Xander's space and those pretty eyes widened. Not alarmed, not yet, but just maybe there was a hint of wariness now. Good. Didn't want it to be too easy.

"Bit loud here, innit?" Spike said. "How 'bout we stop with the shouting and find somewhere--"

And then the song switched. The band on the stage segued from the loud, crashing chords of the one song into something far more soft, slower, making it easier for the humans to hear. The volume didn't so much drop as the music became more subtle, harshness fading to memory.

"Well, guess that'll do." Spike shrugged.

Xander was about to step back; Spike could see it in the tensing of his whole frame, the shifting of his weight onto a different foot. No, he wasn't going to get away now.

"So, who's this Giles, then?" Spike asked.

Yeah, there it was. Never failed. Get them yammering on about something they were interested in and half the time they ignored that little voice inside telling them to get out, get away.

"Oh, Giles, well, he', a librarian. At my school." Xander's smile had faded but now it came back, albeit shakier than before, and he didn't shift his weight back to the other foot, still looked like he might bolt. Huh, so the boy had some sense after all. But not enough to run.

"He's English. Like you," Xander went on, gaze fixed on Spike in that wide-eyed, wary look that made Spike want to grab him, just to see how far up he'd jump.

"Well, okay, not just like you, because Giles is all about the tweed and the research--school-type research! Yeah, for--for term papers and other researchy-type things that need a library and a--a librarian, because I'd get lost in a library without a librarian."

Babble upon babble, it seemed to be a nervous trait. And Spike knew he was making Xander nervous, maybe even a little scared now, but he doubted it was for the right reasons. No, another man getting so close to him; typical American boy, didn't know what to do about it. He'd want to see it as a threat, a physical one, Spike was sure of that, but Spike wasn't trying to be threatening, not in that way, and it was so obviously confusing Xander.

A slight frown was wrinkling the skin between Xander's dark eyebrows and he was leaning back now, not much, but enough to put a few centimeters more distance between them without taking that step back. Teenage bravado, never changed. That step would be admitting to anyone watching that Xander was nervous, that he was the weaker one here, never mind that it was true, that he was the prey in this little game, Xander wouldn't want to admit it to himself, let alone anyone else, so he'd stay until the threat became more...blatant.

Spike wondered what Xander would do when it came to that point. Would he run away like the little rabbit he was -- no, not a rabbit. A rabbit never stood its ground, full of that stubborn, naive hope that it would win, that it could bluff its way free. This was a...puppy. So full of life and enthusiasm, the way he danced just screamed it. So ready to take on anything, only backing off when it was probably already too late. And puppies made such good pets.

Spike chuckled at his own thoughts. Let Xander think that his babble was that amusing -- and it was, but Spike had other amusements in mind now.

A pet. A real one. A human for his, and Drusilla's enjoyment. Kept alive and trained. Now there was something he hadn't had in an age.

That took Xander out of the "food" category, and left him open for so many other things. Not that Spike hadn't been planning to get a leg over anyway, but this would be far different. Xander wouldn't have made it through the night with what Spike had originally planned, taking him right back to Drusilla for her entertainment, for both their pleasures. No, this was long term. And it would take laying some groundwork, bringing Drusilla around to the idea -- and she'd come 'round quick enough, if she could see this boy, soft eyes and yeah, softer skin -- Spike reached out to trail a finger down the side of Xander's neck, smiling when Xander flinched back. Very soft skin. Would mark up nice and pretty.

It would take patience though, and that was something Spike didn't have too much of. Xander was already taking that step backwards, admitting that he was probably in over his head, and Spike wasn't letting him slip away, not that easily.

"Hold up a second, mate." He caught Xander's wrist, curled his fingers around that blood-hot skin, pulling Xander's hand out of his pocket. "So, you're in school, eh?" Spike lowered his tone, still loud enough to be heard over the music but letting it take on that deep timbre that always got Drusilla so wet and ready for him.

Interesting that it got a reaction from puppy-boy.

Maybe it was a combination of the tone and Spike's touch, but Xander gasped, inaudible really, even to a vampire. His lips parted ever so slightly, frown disappearing as his eyes widened just a fraction more. His pulse jumped under Spike's fingers, speeding up, a visceral thumping rhythm that Spike knew he could close his eyes and lose himself in. Feel it move through him. It would be even better wrapping himself around all that warmth, skin to skin, feeling that pulse race under his fangs as it pumped scalding hot blood into his mouth. Feel it throbbing around his cock. Oh, the plans he had for his pet.

"Um, yeah," Xander was saying, tugging at his wrist like he actually expected Spike to let him go. "School. And, you know what? I like girls, so you can back right off now, okay?"

The smile was abruptly gone and oh, look at the puppy show his teeth. Xander's eyes had narrowed and his other hand was out of his pocket. One foot shifting back, he was ready to fight for his freedom -- and Spike was half hard just watching it.

"I like women too," Spike said, running his thumb over the underside of Xander's wrist. That got him a shiver, probably involuntary but it was gratifying all the same. "Like how they smell, how they taste." Blood and body, but Xander didn't need to hear that, not yet.

"Well, good. That's g--good. Nice to meet you; bye now." Xander looked pointedly at Spike's hand on his wrist.

Spike smirked. So many ways to play with this one. "Yeah, pet, I like them. I'm not a poof, just a little bent." And with a single tug -- light for him, but more than enough to off-balance a human -- pulled Xander right up against him. "With the right incentive."

"Hey! Whoa! No incentive here! Not being incentive-guy at all!" Eyes wide again, Xander would've stepped back, tried to yank himself away, but Spike slid an arm around Xander's waist, held him tight, trapping his arm at his side.

"Have a...weakness, don't I?" Spike said, lowering his voice even more. He wasn't sure Xander would hear the words but they weren't important, it was the tone, deep and low, the way Xander would feel it, pressed so tightly against Spike. Feel something else too.

"Pretty boys like you, all vulnerable and wanting to be hurt, bloody well gagging for it with those big, brown eyes. God, what I'm gonna do to you, puppy."

Maybe Xander did hear it, his pulse had sped up even more and there was definite fear in his eyes now, or maybe it was just the position Spike had trapped him in. It definitely didn't help when Spike rocked his hips forward, grinding against him -- and oh, the reaction that got.

Xander didn't exactly say anything, not unless, "Meep!" qualified as a word, but there was no mistaking the way his body responded, all independent of his mind, more than likely, but still fun. Not quite hard but getting there, pressing back against Spike's cock through all the layers between them. Another roll of his hips and Spike had him, at least his body.

"Teenagers," Spike said with an amused snort, then slid his hand off Xander's back, lower.

"Ahh! No! Bad hand!" Xander tried to pull away but there was no possibility he was getting out of Spike's grip. "You know, I'm in high school. Not exactly legal age here!"

"Yeah. And?" Spike ran his fingers slowly down the crease in the back of Xander's pants, light pressure increasing as he moved lower.

Xander took a long, shuddering breath. "O--okay. Now that officially puts you in the category of Mr. Creepy, the Bad Touch guy."

"Yeah, pet, I'm bad." Spike snorted again, a soft exhalation as he tilted his head, putting him in the perfect position to nuzzle at Xander's throat. So deliciously hot, the scent of desire-tinged fear coming off of him, heavy and musky and mixing with a scent that was just him, just Xander. He'd taste of sweet innocence, Spike knew, and he had to have a preview. Had to lick a slow stripe up the side of Xander's neck, feel that pulse beat against his tongue.

"You--you're cold." And there was something in Xander's voice, an abrupt calm that shouldn't have been there, a sudden tenseness in his body that had nothing to do with arousal -- Spike pulled back, just enough to look at him.

Xander stared at him, and not that half-panicked, deer in a headlight stare he'd had before. The arousal and even the anger were muted now. There was outright fear where there hadn't been a moment before, but that was under control in a way Spike wouldn't have given him credit for. It was as though Xander was seeing something that, while he knew it was dangerous, he'd also dealt with before and survived.

Spike knew that look but had never expected to see it on his pet. He was starting to have a bad feeling about this.

"So," Xander said, and his voice was suddenly too bright, too falsely cheerful, "did I mention I'm not here alone? I came with my friends. You should go see them." His eyes glanced to the side, to Spike's right, before coming to rest back on Spike. "In fact, you should really go introduce yourself to Buffy. She'll be so happy to meet you."

Yeah, very bad feeling.

Spike looked, following the path he assumed Xander's gaze had taken and -- there, through the crowd that had thinned out, just a bit. Sitting at a table; a little redhead and, oh yes, a blond. A slayer.

It went right through Spike, that jolt, like a sizzle of electricity, a clenching in his gut, a tingle sliding over his skin, every demon sense he had screaming at him to run, to save himself. He'd learned to ignore that long ago, to use it even when he'd hunted his slayers, but it was still a shock when it first hit him.

"No, not all by lonesome, are you," Spike agreed under his breath, and -- reluctantly -- let go of Xander.

Xander quickly stepped back from him, not a stumble at all. Odd, that faced with something he knew, something that was far worse than a human bully, puppy-boy...wasn't. There was real courage there, enough to let him face hell, Spike would bet. And he could respect that.

"Right then." A slight nod of his head, an acknowledgement of the strength he'd missed before.

Xander didn't say anything, just watched him closely as he began to back away through the crowd. He knocked into people on the way but the first couple times he didn't bother looking, just said an absent-minded, "Sorry," and kept going, towards that table.

But then someone pushed him back, spun him around to yell at him and Spike took the opportunity to slide back into the crowd.

That definitely changed things. Oh, it didn't mean he'd be giving up on his pet, but puppy had real teeth, the kind that could do damage of the sort Spike wouldn't enjoy. But that just made it more of a challenge, made it more fun. Made it dangerous too. Especially if his pet were somehow connected with the Slayer. But what was fun without a little, or a lot of danger?

Spike circled around the dance floor, back into the shadows the bad lighting so helpfully provided -- it was like some wanker had designed the place with vampires in mind. Not that Spike had any complaints, but he wondered how many bodies turned up here on a regular basis, and how did they keep the kiddies coming back?

Unless that was why the Slayer was here, keeping the peace and all. Except...Spike was in a position to see her again, hidden by shadows and part of a pillar, and she didn't exactly look like the alert slaying machine he'd expected.

Books were spread out on the table, pencils and paper and if he hadn't known better, he would've thought she was just another high school student. Plus she was...not so tough looking. He'd been told she was small, petite, but she looked like--like... "Like a bloody cheerleader," Spike muttered. Blond and busty and probably even perky, judging by the smile that she gave Xander when he stumbled up to their table.

Xander, not looking so confident now, just worried and more than a little anxious. Buffy's -- and what kind of a name was that? -- smile disappeared when she took in Xander's expression.

Spike couldn't risk getting any closer if he didn't want to be seen, so he tuned out the noise around him -- as much as he could, which still left an annoying background hum -- and focused on what Buffy said. There had to be more to her than just a barely-there top and too much make up, something that separated her from all the others, made her the Slayer. It was what he'd come here to learn in the first place, finding his pet was just a lovely bonus.

"Guys!" Xander said, tone still too bright, smile too strained. "You should come dance with me, especially you, Buffy."

"Um, we should really study," the redhead said, giving him a dubious look.

"Yes, and studying is good; we should all study, Willow." Xander put a hand briefly on her shoulder before letting it drop and looking at Buffy again. "But right now you should come dance, Buffy, because there's someone you need to meet."

"Why?" Buffy gave him a look that was half curiosity, half suspicion.

"Because he's grabby, very much making with the hands in naughty places." Xander leaned forward and Spike had to strain to hear more.

"And he's got this body temperature problem, as in, lack of."

"Oh!" Willow put down her pencil. "Okay, studying can wait."

Buffy didn't say anything, but the look on her face became...well, Spike hadn't seen a look like that since he'd met up with his last slayer. It was almost predatory, but no predator protected the weak, fought monsters stronger than they were, and that's what this girl was designed to do. There was a resolve on her face, a seriousness as she grabbed her purse and stood up, already scanning the crowd as she moved.

"Describe him for me, Xander," she said.

"Little shorter than me, blond -- but I think he bleaches it like you do -- and he's--"

"I do not!" Buffy turned and glared at him, but the glare quickly faded and she grabbed a lock of her hair. "Oh, please tell me it doesn't look all fakey and over-bleached."

"It doesn't, right, Xander?" Willow said, getting to her feet and nudging Xander with her elbow.

"Oh! Uh, no -- nope; looking so real, Buff. Great, um...blond...colory sort of...color--is this a girl thing?" He looked down at Willow with a frown.

Willow sighed and shook her head.

Buffy gave her hair one last mournful look, then let it go. "Okay, so, undead guy macking on the dancers." She went back to scanning the crowd.


Spike hadn't realized he'd been concentrating that hard. He was jerked back out of the scene playing out at the table by the voice at his side.

"Yeah, and who're you?" he said, looking at the male vampire standing beside him. At least he didn't sound startled. Wouldn't do to have the help thinking they could sneak up on him, catch him with his guard down.

"I was sent to assist." The vampire, taller than Spike but stupid looking as any minion, just stood there after speaking, waiting for orders. Like Spike was fooled.

"Sent to spy, you mean," he muttered, shaking his head in disgust. The Annoying One just wouldn't let him do things his way, had to keep track of him. Spike decided then that he'd have to work on talking some of the minions over to his side. Or make some of his own. Would do if he stayed here for a while.

"Right." He sighed. "Then go find something to eat, yeah? Take it out back. When the Slayer shows up, see what you can do with her."

"I'll rip her throat out," the vampire said with a wide grin, face shifting to its demon planes.

"Sure you will, mate." Spike didn't bother putting any confidence in that statement because the git was nothing more than canon fodder, just too stupid to know it.

Buffy had moved off into the crowd of dancers, still looking for him, apparently, and both Xander and Willow had followed her, all of them looking about warily. Spike could see Xander's lips moving but there was too much distance between them now and the words were lost.

There'd be time for playing with his new pet later. Business first.

With more people between him and his quarry, it was much easier to approach the three of them, to stay out of their sight when he was nearly in reach of them. So easy to just grab some random human and use his best, fake American accent -- didn't need Xander catching on just yet -- to announce that there was a girl in trouble out back, getting bitten on.

Yeah, did that send Buffy and her entourage running.

Spike left through the front and circled 'round the back, not wanting to run into them until he'd seen what he'd come to see. And what a sight it was.

Buffy was a slayer, the Slayer, in every sense, regardless of how she looked. She had the strength, the instincts, and god could she ever move.

Spike was hard again, just watching her. The arousal hadn't quite fled after he'd let Xander go, but it'd been subdued, and now it came back full force. Fighting, death and sex, it all had so much in common. Each slayer Spike had fought and killed, it'd been like shagging, getting all breathless and sweaty. Well, metaphorically breathless in his case. In the end, holding those slayers close to him, hands wrapped around their throats, he could've fucked them just as well as killed them. Might've done both if his darling Drusilla hadn't been there for him afterwards, waiting in the wings to celebrate with him.

Spike wondered how Buffy would be, at her last. Would all that strength be as soft against him as the other slayers had been? Would her eyes be filled with hate, defiance to the last? Or would there be resignation there, an acceptance of the death that she lived with each day? It was what he'd seen in the two slayers who'd danced their last with him.

Whatever it would be, right now she was a fighter, committed to living and -- a first for Spike -- she had her friends there to help her remember what it was all for. Friends. Not just people to obey her, minions, or whatever the term was for humans, but real friends who helped get the vampire's victim to safety. Willow who cheered Buffy on and shouted out warnings when the vampire got too close. Xander -- naive, innocent, too brave for his own good -- who found Buffy's purse by the door where it'd been knocked out of her hands, who pulled a wooden stake out of it and threw it to her.

And then it was over. The minion had just enough time to demonstrate what a complete and utter wanker he was by announcing both St. Vigeous and Spike's name, betraying the fact that Spike was even there. Then the git was nothing more than free floating dust.

Spike had planned to just watch and leave, never show himself, but they already knew someone was there, so why not play a bit? Besides, a performance like that deserved some appreciation, and it was genuine admiration when he clapped as he walked into the sparse lighting provided by the fixture over the nearby warehouse door.

"You!" Xander spoke before Spike could say a word.

Buffy and Willow looked away from Spike towards Xander, although Buffy was quick to shift her gaze back to Spike, to keep an eye on the threat. Nice, that. She'd make for a good fight, this one.

"That's him, Buffy!" Xander was pointing at him now. "Mr. Evil Undead Octopus Hands guy! And what is with me attracting the demons?"

Willow's eyes widened and she looked away from Xander to stare at Spike.

"Yeah, pet, it's me." Spike smirked at him, then made a point of giving him a good, thorough once-over. Starting at the feet and slowly working his way up.

"Um, Xander?" Buffy turned her head slightly towards Xander but didn't look away from Spike. "Should I be...I don't know, defending your honor or something right now?" She brought her stake up, shifting her weight back in a fighting stance.

"No!" Xander stood up straight, frowning at her. "I can defend my own honor. Not that it needs defending because I'm a guy and guys don't do that sort of thing for...other guys, or themselves or -- just, no. No defending because there's nothing to defend--I mean, nothing happened."

Smirk widening, Spike tilted his head to the side. "Oh, pet, if that was your definition of 'nothing,' can't wait to see what you're like when 'something' happens." He straightened, sliding one hand over his stomach, the thin cotton not what he was thinking about touching. "Can't wait to sink...a few things into you."

"And that's just plain eww." Buffy grimaced.

Willow looked vaguely embarrassed, eyes moving quickly away from Spike to stare at the ground, the walls, anything but him.

"Okay," Xander took a big step back, "there'll be no sinking of anything into the Xan-man, not by any guys or demons or anything even vaguely male. So you can just take your--your grabby Mcfeely hands and the innuendo and that I'm-so-dead-sexy walk and just--just forget I said that. Just go away. Or, better yet, stay! Let Buffy stake you!" That too bright grin again that did nothing to hide Xander's nervousness or that hint of embarrassment for revealing what Spike had already known.

Yeah, Spike had an effect on him, one he'd keep working on.

"You're fun, pet." Spike grinned at him, an expression he just knew would get a reaction.

"And you're not. And quit calling me that!" Xander said, crossing his arms over his chest in a manner that was probably supposed to look intimidating, but ended up looking as though he were trying to hug, comfort himself.

"Oh, I'll call you pet, and you'll answer soon enough." Spike's grin faded and, ignoring Xander's outraged expression, he looked at Buffy.

"See you on Saturday, love."

"Is this guy hung up on the cutsey names, or what?" Xander complained, but only Willow responded, laying a cautioning hand on his arm, her gaze firmly fixed on Spike.

"Why Saturday?" Buffy asked, flexing her fingers around the stake.

"That's when I'll kill you."

She didn't react to that; had to give her credit for having a pair, so to speak. Then again, she probably heard threats from demons every night. He was no regular demon, but she'd find that out. And so would his pet.

"See you too, Xander." Spike made a point of saying it as he backed away from the light, drawing it out to far more than its two syllables. Tasting the name.

Xander's eyes stayed on him. Even when Spike would've been invisible to human sight, Xander continued staring into the shadows. Smiling to himself, Spike turned and walked away into the darkness.


© 1998-2006, Erin.