Spike's face, which had been so expressive of his affection since Xander had been Turned, set into a mask of indifference. "Get washed up. I'll pick out some clothes for you."

The night soured, even killing has parents took on a dim pallor. "Not much to choose from," Xander replied."

"You'll need to look as much like your human self as possible until Willow's been Turned. If she's such a smart one, even the smallest hint might be too much."

Xander, unable to think up an argument to that, led the way to the basement. As he stepped into the bathroom, he glanced back, hoping Spike would join him, but his Sire continued on to the closet and started rummaging through the clothes there, holding shirts out, scrutinizing them, and then discarding based on some criteria Xander couldn't follow.

By the time Xander had finished showering, Spike was in the kitchenette, standing at the open fridge, loading the last of the pig's blood into a duffel bag. Xander, pretending he didn't notice, walked to his bed, wondering how much that Willow comment had cost him. Didn't Spike trust that Xander would keep him fed, no matter what it took? Could he actually believe Xander would leave him for Willow? Xander thought about that. He'd known Willow since forever, and she had a loyalty in her that went down to her very core. He wanted that loyalty, that devotion, but Spike had it as well. Look how he'd stuck with Dru, batty as a mad hatter as she was, for over a century. For the first time, Xander felt like he was the one calling the shots. It was nice.

Looking over the clothes that Spike had laid out, blue jeans and a shirt with Scooby Doo dogs all over it, Xander decided to test that power. "Do I really have to wear this?" he asked, holding up the shirt.


Hanging his head, Xander peered over, turning just a tad toward Spike.

"You can stop playing me. I'm not going to change my mind."

"But look at these things," Xander said, standing up straight.

"I did look at them. Picked them out, didn't I?" Spike said. "Tell you what, we'll pick you up some new clothes on the way home, but you can't wear 'em yet."

Tossing a handful of frozen dinners in with the blood, Spike led them downtown, dropping the blood off a Willy's, telling him to keep it cold until he returned for it. Breaking open a door in some dark alley, Spike led Xander into a shop, a place Xander didn't even know existed. It was jammed full of clothes – leather, lace, silk – and toys – whips, dildos, and things Xander hadn't even imagined as a human.

"Try this," Spike said, tossing over a silk shirt, so dark a maroon it was almost black.

Pulling off all his clothes as Spike stared wandering through the racks, Xander admired the feel of the silk as he pulled it on, taking his time with each button so that, when Spike returned, his arms full of leather and silk, Xander still had three buttons, up at the top of his chest, open.

Spike dropped the clothes. Xander's smile was half smirk as he asked, "See something you like?"

"Chiaroscuro," Spike whispered.

Xander didn't know what that meant but liked the sound of it on Spike's lips.

"It's a painting term, describing the play of light and shade," Spike explained.

Tilting his head down, glancing through his eyelashes, Xander asked, "And that's good?"

"Oh, that's very good," Spike replied.

"So I can lose my old clothes?" Xander asked hopefully.

"Not until I say so," Spike said.

After they'd finished picking out clothes for Xander, they headed back out into the night. A few blocks from the shop, Spike turned to the right, walking away from the apartment. "I thought we were done for the night," Xander said.

"Are," Spike replied, glancing back at him. Tracking down the street, he added, "Oh, that was temporary. Wanted somewhere safe till you'd been turned and Angel's old place was the safest spot I could think of, but I don't fancy bunking there long term."

Xander grinned, feeling as happy as when he'd killed his parents. "You stayed in Angel's place just for me?"

Spike's face relaxed into a smile as he brushed fingers over Xander's cheek. "Didn't want to lose you."

"Can we get back to..." Tilting his head, Xander added, "Where are we going?"

"Crypt," Spike said with a shrug. "Can't stay forever. Once Buffy knows you've been Turned, she'll come looking, but it'll do for now."

Xander brushed his free hand, the one not carrying clothes, down Spike's chest. "How quickly do you think we can get there?"

"Pretty fast," Spike said, tearing down the street. Spike led Xander to a room under the crypt where he'd set up a bed. "Careful with your clothes," Spike warned when it looked like Xander was about to rip them off.

"You do it then, 'cause I'll tear 'em to shreds."

"Such an impatient thing you are," Spike teased, working the buttons on Xander's shirt. "Oh sod it," he added, ripping at the shirt, popping off the bottom four buttons.

"And I'm the impatient one?"

"Just get your pants off," Spike said, sitting on the edge of the bed and pulling off his boots.

They slept well into the next day, not waking until they heard Willow in the crypt above. "Hello? Spike?"

"Showtime," Xander said, grabbing a shirt out of the bag.

"Um, pet, what did we say about your new clothes?"

"Oh." Xander dropped the silk shirt, reluctantly putting on the Scooby Doo top.

"Be right up," Spike called, pulling on his leather pants.

"Have you seen Xander? The mailman found the door open at this parents' house and, well, it was bad."

Spike nudged Xander, nodding his head toward the crypt above them. "I'm here Willow," Xander called out, climbing the ladder. "We saw the damage at the house."

Spike, climbing below Xander, hit his ankle. "Don't tell her that," he whispered. "She'll wonder why you didn't report in."

"Um, we fled but demons chased us."

"Once we got safely here," Spike added, "I wasn't about to let him out again, not with those demons wandering around. I'm afraid we got a bit tuckered out and crashed."

As Xander stepped off the ladder, Willow threw herself at him, grabbing him into a hug. "Oh, I've been so worried." Xander wrapped his arms around her, as if returning the hug, effectively catching her in a trap."

"You're freezing," Willow exclaimed. Yelling at Spike, she added, "What are you doing, letting him get... so. Cold?"

"You always were the smart one," Xander replied to her questioning look. Flashing into vamp-face, he sank his fangs into her neck.

Spike, leaning against one wall of the crypt, one arm across his chest, smoking, waited for Xadner to finish with Willow.

When Willow had stopped drinking at the cut Xander had cut across his chest, he looked to Spike. "What now?"

"You toss her in one of these," Spike said, slapping a hand across one of the stone coffins, "and give it time. After she's settled, head on downstairs. If anyone comes, you hide. Head off into the tunnels if you have to."

Xander, cradling Willow in his arms, stood. "Where're you going?"

Spike, his eyes fixed firmly on Willow, said, "To get myself some insurance."

Because it was still light out, Spike took the tunnels, thanking the assorted public officials who'd chosen to put vamp-friendly thoroughfares all under town. By the time he'd gotten to campus, night had fallen, allowing him to being his hunt immediately.

He didn't know where she lived, but he'd heard her name, only once though. He thought back to that night; Anya, tactless as ever, had been talking about human marriage customs, wedding and bridal showers and such not. "If we got married, I'd be required to take Xander's last name, Anya Harris." Spike grinned. It had been rather fun to watch Xander spurting soda over that little comment. Turning to Tara, Anya had asked, "If you and Willow got married, would you be Tara Rosenberg?" Shifting her gaze to Willow, she'd added, "or would you be Willow? Hey, what is Tara's last name?"

"Maclay," Tara had said helpfully. "She'd be Willow Maclay," she'd added with a mischievous grin.

"That's it," Spike said, breaking into the Administration Office. He typed Maclay onto the keyboard and there it was, dorm and room number.

Not knowing how he'd find her if she wasn't home, he knocked on the door. She answered right away, calling out, "Willow?" Her face fell when she saw him. "Spike," she stuttered. "What are you doing here?"

Hope this works, Spike thought. "It's Willow. She's OK," he said, holding his hands out as if to stop her from rushing off, "well, she's hurt a bit but not much. No need for Giles to insist I come find you."

"Willow's hurt?" she asked, stepping out of the room.

He punched her before he could think about it, knowing that even the decision to hit her would hurt him like a bloody train wreck. As his fist smashed into her temple, his head exploded. When he came to, there were about a half dozen students standing around, not doing anything useful, asking if he was OK, but Tara was still out so that part had worked out all right. As he carried her off, Spike started thinking about where he could stash her.