Disclaimer: I own nothing, they all belong to Joss and I bow to his awesomeness

Returning To Me

So Spike was corporeal again, Spike was happier than… well he was pretty damn happy. So happy he decided to steal Angel's check book and hit the nearest strip joint he could find. No doubt Angel was already telling all the scattered scoobies about his resurrection after he heroically gave his unlife to seal the hell mouth in Sunnydale. This was just going to be a little payback, that's all, and Spike would have fun with it too.

Spike got out his cigarettes, and the book of matches he was forced to use. He wished he still had that lighter Droopy helped him light a cigarette with before everything went to hell. Of course he doubted he would have been brought back with it intact but he still wished he had the lighter. He hated using matches; they never worked and typically burned his finger.

"OW, buggerin bloody hell." Spike tossed the match down to the table after it had burnt his fingers. He stuck both offended fingers into his mouth to suck on. He was about to try again when a lighter was thrust into his vision, lit and ready to go. He followed the hand holding it up to an arm; he followed the arm up to the body and so on up to the geek features and same shaggy brown hair.

"Need a light?" Xander asked as he held the lighter out to Spike.

Spike took a moment longer to look at the boy curiously before sticking the cigarette back in his mouth and leaning forward to light it with the flame created by the lighter and took a few puffs. When he leaned back Xander snapped the lighter closed and handed it to the vampire, "ta, mate." Spike took a few puffs of the cigarette before speaking again, "what are you doin here, I thought you'd be busy with your friends."

"Oh you know, I was in the neighborhood when Angel gave me the call an I thought I'd come find you. I had something to return anyway." Xander said as he pulled out a chair and sat next to Spike. He wasn't paying much attention to the dancers and more attention to Spike, "I can't believe you survived that."

"Remember Harris, I didn't survive the collapse. It was that necklace that brought me back." Spike played with the rim of his glass and looked at Xander, "so, what are you doin in L.A. mate?"

"I'm supposed to be looking for more potentials, start some new groups of slayers to be put somewhere." Xander sat back in his chair and gave Spike a rundown of what the scoobies were up to lately, how he and Buffy were running Slayer HQ somewhere and there were various slayer groups around the world keeping the various hell mouths in check.

"So, where is the slayer now?" Spike asked, playing with the lighter he now had in his hand. The object that had brought Xander to him felt significant to him. Something was going on and he wanted to get to the bottom of it.

"Well, if I told you that I'd have to kill you." Xander laughed when Spike looked at him and shrugged, "honestly not even Angel knows, and I wouldn't want to put you into that kind of position if someone did find out you knew…" Spike tilted his head, was Xander actually considering him instead of just out right not telling him? "So it's probably best her location remain secret, she's got a lot of enemies you know."

Spike watched the boy take the beer he was offered and take a sip. Spike shrugged dropping the lighter into his pocket, "no doubt there pet, probably a lot of demons out there that'd love to see her rendered limb from limb."

Xander took a moment and looked at Spike, "and are you one of those demons, Spike?"

Spike took a long moment to consider that, did he want to see the slayer killed? He knew that Buffy didn't love him really, he was a cold hearted demon, who could love that? That said he wasn't the kind of demon to want to see the Earth plunged into the next hell age. If that meant supporting the slayer and fighting on her side, then he'd do it. Spike shook his head, "not anymore, seeing her dead would probably mean a tip in the balance. An let's face it, the ones that'd want to see hell on Earth don't need anymore help."

Xander raised his glass, "full agreement here my fangy friend. So what have you been up to these days?"

Spike shrugged, wondering why Xander had just called him friend. Did the boy really consider the vampire his friend? Well, taking a look at Xander for a moment Spike realized something. He wasn't a boy anymore, a full grown man now. He had responsibilities now, more so than when he was just a Scooby helping Buffy safe the world in Sunnydale. He now had the responsibilities of gathering new potentials and helping fight the little fights that would ultimately win them the war. Yes, he certainly was a man now.

"Not much, mate. I hang around an haunt Angel now, do an odd job now an then when he needs it. Tell you the truth I'm getting bloody tired of playin the corporate side kick though." Spike said as he nursed his new shot of whiskey.

"Well you could always come help me out, train some slayers and gather them up for a new team." Xander offered as they sat talking companionably.

"An get my arse kicked by a group of mini slayers? Been there, done that, burned the t-shirt mate. Rather not be present for the reunion tour." Spike downed his shot quickly and sighed as the fire liquid burned down his throat.

Xander only nodded as he considered that. He couldn't blame Spike really. Not only did the mini slayers get to pick fights with him but it seemed every time Buffy was down or feeling guilty about something she'd go take it out on the vampire as well. It rubbed him wrong, especially when she'd do it during Spike's chipped days. The other blonde couldn't even fight back against her and she took advantage of that.

Xander loved Buffy, he really did. Buffy was one of his best friends and he'd stick with her though the end. But that was on way to treat one of their fighters and he knew it. Sure Spike was a monster…a very sexy monster… but that didn't mean he deserved the crap beaten out of him every time Buffy got mad at something.

"That's understandable Spike, totally with the understanding here. Maybe you just, I dunno, come with me and help gather the slayers up anyway? No training, no fighting, no ass-kicking. Just…helping me out?" Xander knew it was a long shot. Hell, he wasn't even sure himself what he wanted. But he did want to get closer to Spike, whatever the outcome may be. There was just something about the blonde that drew him in. He wanted to make everything right for Spike for once. No more grand-sires telling him what to do and how useless he was. No more slayers putting him down and kicking his nice ass.

This time Spike would be able to make his own decisions and help where he wanted to help, but not have something hanging over his head such as someone paying his way though life making it so he had no choice but to help.

Spike could smell the anticipation and hope coming off the boy from where he sat. Could he….? Nah, couldn't be. The boy was straight as an arrow. Besides that he hated vampires, right? Always a first time for everything.

Suddenly, Spike's night was starting to look a lot more interesting. "Y'sure bout that mate? Last time I agreed to help a Scooby I didn't turn out so well for me in the end. Got a soddin' town collapse in on me."

Xander shook his head, "none of that Spike. I'm asking you to help, yeah, but only where you want to help. I'll make sure the Watcher Council pays your way but you don't have to do anything you don't want to. I'll be completely honest with you, we could use the muscle. But you've been though enough…hell we both have. You don't want to help with something, you don't have to. "

Spike could almost taste the unspoken plea from Xander. What he was really asking for was companionship. It must be hard being the only male in a group full of girls with super powers that can kick your ass six ways from Sunday. Spike supposed he could tag along a while, share in some of the boy's exploits and lend a hand when needed. There was a good chance they would be heading back to the British Isles when they got done and he was feeling a mite home sick for his homeland of England. He wouldn't mind seeing White Chapel again, see how it had changed.

Xander could almost see when the shift happened, when Spike resigned himself to accept Xander's offer. He looked at the boy for a long moment, "alright, I'll come with Harris. But I got a few conditions that better be met. First an for most I am not goin to be on beck an call to the Wanker Council. They need a hand with matters an I decide it's a case I feel like assistin in they can pay me for services rendered. As for payin my way, I can take care of that easily. I've got me own accounts courtesy of Angelus at Wolfram & Hart. They are free an clear for me to use as I want." Spike smirked, pausing a moment, "Angel got tired of me nickin his checkbook."

Xander chuckled softly at that, Spike up to his old tricks again was a welcome familiarity among them. "I shall counter your condition of paying your way with this. The Watcher council will pay for the transportation as they usually already book tickets and everything ahead of time anyway, and it'd be easier to add one more seat to the roster. Whatever other expenses you have you can pay for, how's that?"

Spike mulled that over for a moment. Transportation costs covered and a wage if he were to seriously assist them in anything. Similar to his set up with the Scoobies in Sunnydale originally but he had a better sense of freedom with it. That and he wasn't chipped anymore.

"Right, that sounds fair. But I'm not workin with anyone but you or Red or solo." Spike added, taking another shot and downing it quickly.

Xander nodded, "I'll be sure to add that, not a problem."

Spike wondered what it was that got the Watcher's knickers in such a twist they'd consider adding a vampire, souled or not, on the payroll. Regardless, he was gona take advantage of it. "Right, Harris, you got yourself a deal." He held out his hand and shook Xander's as a way to seal the deal.

They locked eyes for a few moments as their hands connected. A spark shot between them causing Spike to shiver in his seat. This was going to be the start of something very interesting between him and Xander, he could feel it deep in his bones.

"Spike, I'm glad your alive… um, undead. Really, I felt you got the crap end of the deal in Sunnydale." Xander said as their hands unclasped, but their eyes remained locked.

"Don't sweat it, Harris. M'back an kickin arse. Are you sure you want a monster at your side?" Spike asked. He was almost afraid of the answer he'd get.

Xander smiled at the vampire, "honestly, there's no one I trust more." And he realized for the first time he really meant it.