Xander didn't miss the Friday nights when he'd been hunting demons – and he was sure that would happen again soon enough anyway – or the nights when the demons had been hunting him, or dating him which worked out to pretty much the same thing, but his personal ex-vengeance demon was out of town at some sort of store owner's conference and there wasn't much else to do besides watch tv. And hey, he could finally watch B5 in peace, but it wasn't as much fun without Anya's comments, even if they did tend to rag on the show. So here he was, on a quiet (boring) stroll to Papa Leone's to grab a sub for dinner. Sigh.

It wasn't that he wanted, or even wished for, something bad to happen, it was just that he was used to a bit more action in his life, and who'd have thunk he'd miss that? So, when the pebble came skittering past him in the street, he pounced on it. Not literally, but he did stop and turn, glancing from face to face to face, not really hoping he'd see a demon but sort of wanting something interesting. There wasn't anything: nothing scaly, nothing with horns, nothing with fangs.

He'd started walking again, resigned to a dull, lonely night at home, when the streetlight just ahead of him shattered. The glass hadn't even hit the ground before the next two broke as well. What the hell was I thinking was running through his mind as he dove into the first open door. About a half-dozen girls, around Dawn's age, looked over at him. Oh God, he was trapped with a bunch of girls who were clothes shopping. As they almost as a unit turned their backs to him, Xander started glancing around. There had to be a phone right? Girls were always on the phone. And if there wasn't, maybe he'd risk whatever was out in the street. It didn't have to be a demon. There could be all kinds of reasons why three streetlights would suddenly…

As the crash of shattering glass filled the room, Xander dropped to the floor, the thud of it knocking the air out of his lungs. When he peered up from behind a bunch of blue jeans as the girls ran screaming out the back, there was a vampire standing in the gaping hole that used to be the store's window. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit gave way to wait a minute as Xander realized whom it was. "Fangless?"

Dropping the vamp-face, Spike stepped into the store.

"You aren't afraid that, oh say, the cops might show up, now that you can't hurt humans that is?"

Strolling across the room as if he had all the time in the world, Spike replied, "You know that once I've got this chip out, you and your little friends are dead, right?"

Xander pulled a stake out of his jacket pocket. "Or I could just nip you in the bud here and now."

As Spike looped his thumbs through the belt loops of his jeans, letting his hands frame his crotch, Xander added, "And that so wasn't the kind of nipping in the bud I was going for."

Was that a look of disappointment in Spike's eyes? "Well, if you're sure about that." As the rack of jeans flew across the room, Spike was right there, just inches from him. Xander could hear his stake clattering against the floor.

"Hey, what the hell?"

Spike pushed Xander against the wall, holding him there as he struggled, and Xander was wondering hey, can he do that with the chip and all, when a sharp nick at his collarbone stopped him cold.

Grabbing Xander's collar, Spike tore downward, ripping open the t-shirt. "You really don't listen, do you?" he added as he dragged one fingernail down, trailing a cut down from collarbone to nipple. Xander gasped at the sting of it before Spike's meaning finally became clear.

"No, no, no. Buffy will kill you."

As Spike shifted into vamp-face, bringing his fangs ever so slowly closer and closer to Xander's neck, he replied, "Not if I kill her first."

Xander lashed out, punching and kicking with arms and legs, pausing only for a moment at the pain of it as the fangs bit into his throat, but then lashing out even harder, shoving at Spike with his body, keeping at it until the lethargy was too much for him, and he just fell away, almost swaying against the wall, his eyes drifting shut, too tired to even move much less fight.

"See you soon, love." The words were distant, even further away than his body, which he could barely feel anymore, not that it mattered. Nothing mattered; all he had to do was just float away…

When the blood hit his lips, it awakened: not Xander but something primal; an almost instinct at the base of his brain; a compulsive drive; a need to survive no matter what the cost. It drank. It sucked down the blood, only aware of Spike as its food, barely noticing the words as the vampire crooned over him. "Soon, love, soon."