Standard Disclaimers Apply.
A/N : It's still technically the weekend, so I've met my goal even if it wasn't on the exact schedule I planned.
A knock on the crypt door as it was opened quickly for a Scooby to slip through wasn't exactly the courtesy they'd give a human, but Spike would take it over a kicked in door. He looked up from the scratchy image of Timmy on the TV screen when he heard the fast pounding heartbeat. "Problem with the Bit?"
Xander shifted awkwardly. "What, there has to be trouble for me to... oh forget it, I can't even pretend. Dawnie's fine, but I wanna know what's going on with you."
"What about me, Xa- er, Whelp?"
Ah nothing like a good opening. "That, for starters. You keep trying to call me Xan, or pet, I think I even caught you saying 'luv' when we were all arguing about whether to try talking to the crazy knight guys Friday."
"I, well I got mixed up with talking to you, Buffy and the Nibblet so close together."
"Yeah, so mixed up you were backing me up against the Buffster..."
Calling himself five kinds of poof in his head, Spike made a last ditch effort at Big Bad-ness. "Wasn't backing you up, was just supporting the good idea that somehow wandered into your empty head." Xander just stared for a few seconds. "Fine, it's not like I actually like you or anything, just that... both of our little visitors from the future shared blood with me, trying to bring me up to strength for fighting Glory if it came to that."
From what Dawn had said it was a bit more than that from the vamp-him at least, but no need to nitpick when he was getting somewhere. "What does that have to do with how you've been acting towards me?"
"A master vampire's blood is powerful stuff, pet. It's what we use to pass on our demon to a new vamp, after all. When it's freely given to a member of the same family, it ties you closer together, shares feelings, sometimes even memories. From an older version of myself, it was almost like being him for a moment."
"Okay, that makes a weird, Hellmouthy sort of sense." Xander firmly told himself that he was relieved rather than disappointed. "So the other you's feelings about his me are getting confused with this me so you temporarily forget that you hate me?"
Spike was going to run out of words for 'poncy bugger' if he kept this up. "Could be that 'hate' is a little strong. You aren't a completely insufferable prick when you forget that you hate me... All the 'pet' and 'luv' stuff, though, yeah it just slips out, especially if I've had one of his dreams that day. Getting better though, and I still love the Slayer." He did, damn it. His other self's memories of drinking her down had confused that for a while, but he hadn't let it draw him off course.
"Yeah, well, good luck with that one pal, you're gonna need it." He wondered if he had grown a second head the way the vamp stared at him for a moment there.
"Huh, usually that's when you lot tell me that soulless things can't love." And Harris was usually the quickest on the draw with the line too.
Xander blushed. A second head would have been less embarrassing. "Yeah, well... That vampire was... a lot like me. I felt more like he was me than my two halves felt about each other during the Toth thing, ya know? Makes it harder to swallow the old party line on 'nothing of the human remains' when you can see yourself so clearly still in there." He fingered the ball in his pocket that he'd been planning on tossing a lot sooner in this conversation. "And anyway, I figure something is keeping you around here helping, and you don't seem like the type for a long buildup to betrayal."
Spike's confusion was only partially faked, but still just seemed to annoy the Scooby and he sighed before throwing something across the crypt. "Catch." Reaching out instinctively, he grabbed the small ball, and was preparing a sarcastic question of whether this was impromptu male bonding when he glanced down and choked on his own words. The ball lying in his hand had small silver crosses glued all over its surface.
Xander hadn't expected that having his suspicions confirmed would make him laugh, but Spike's totally straightfaced and wooden delivery of pretending to drop the ball in pain was beautifully understated. No wonder British TV was so funny. "So the other Spike came back to the shop after dusk, and some stuff he said got me thinking that maybe he'd either fixed the chip, given you his Gem or both."
Spike held back a relieved sigh that the Nibblet hadn't blabbed about his Childe's going away pressie. She'd obviously had her suspicions but had only told him that she trusted him and hoped he would be sticking around before she left him to open it alone. His Xanpet... er Harris, that is, seemed fairly relaxed for being in a crypt with a vamp he apparently suspected of being able to hurt him again. "This where you tell me about the letters you gave to all the other Scoobies to open if you didn't come back from this visit?"
"Hey, that would have been a really smart... I mean 'Yes. Yes, I definitely did that.'" He knew his 'bad liar' delivery wasn't as good as the vampire's, but it got a smile anyway. "There hasn't been any increase in barbeque fork accidents, and Buffy's still alive after Dawn reissued your invitation, so I'm back to the 'starting to believe you mean it with the Slayer luvin' bit."
"I've not been killing." He knew it was as good as saying he could again, but even if his doppelganger hadn't had Red deal with the chip, he suspected that the Gem would blunt the damage enough to allow him to feed and Xan obviously was thinking it as well. "I've gone out of town a few times to feed, but I left 'em breathing and they were all 'volunteers' anyway."
"Volunteers like Riley was doing or Tennessee State fans?" Ha, score one for the Xan Man, Spike actually snorted at that one.
"Neither luv, it was a game Dru and I used to play a lot - cut nervously through a few dark alleys on the wrong side of town and see if we could get our meal to pick itself."
"Ah, the old 'mugging the monster' scenario. I'm gonna be big with the non-judging on that one, especially if they're living through it. But what's your game plan here? Buffster or G-man will find out eventually, you know." And Xander wasn't a little worried about Spike being driven out of Sunnydale when they did. It would be a relief, especially with Anya's continuing 'hints'. Really. A relief.
"Figured those Renaissance Faire blokes would be attacking eventually, and I won't be endangering the Bit by holding back... So they'll know then if it doesn't come out sooner. Just hoping Buffy will see that I've been controlling myself even without the chip and let me stay. If not, well, my new bit of bling should protect me enough that I won't have to hurt her defending myself, and I'll decide what to do with my unlife from there." And surely she would see it if Xander could. Even if Buffy didn't come to love him he would regret leaving Sunnydale and Xanpe- that is, the Little Bit. Wouldn't regret never seeing Harris again, that was just the memories of his other self.
"As long as it doesn't involve trying to win Dru back with Scooby Snacks like the other you did, hopefully you'll have a good unlife either way." Did he really just hope for Spike's happiness? And bring up the him and Wills turning thing?
He was aiming for a smirk but suspected it came out as more of a sad smile. "Pretty sure I missed my window on that one... Dru won't even be thinking of taking me back for a couple of decades after threatening to stake her for the Slayer, no matter what pressies I come up with." He tossed the ball from hand to hand, marveling at the cool feel of the crosses. "Missed the window on turning you two at all, really. Red's gotten too powerful and would end up doing something dangerous in the rush of losing her inhibitions, and you've lost that undercurrent of despair that would have let some part of you welcome a new take on life."
"The implication that you've thought this through is a little frightening..." He had to return the grin though. "But I've gotta say I like my life a lot better than I did in High School. Um, sorta speaking in the direction of which, would you mind coming over to the apartment this weekend to provide brute strength for a project. Anya wants a pot rack over the kitchen island and having someone able to just hold it in place would be nice. She says she'll pay you in beer."
He didn't mention his suspicions that Anya was plotting something of an inappropriate nature - he didn't know for sure, and Spike could always say no, and it might be nice to do a project then drink some beer.
"Could do. Have to be after sunset unless you'll be telling Anyanka about the Gem anyway." He didn't mention his suspicions from all the 'hints' that Nibblet had been dropping lately and the significant glances she and Demongirl had been exchanging when they though neither he nor Xanpet were looking. This might be unrelated, and Harris could always say no, and it might be nice to lend a hand and have a beer, maybe watch some telly with decent reception.
"I probably should, if you're going to have an invite to our place she should know all the facts." Hopefully it wouldn't scare her off the whole 'them and Spike' idea. Wait, no, hopefully it would! Right.
"Let me know if she changes her mind at the next meeting then. And if not, stock some decent beer!" Maybe knowing would delay whatever naughty plans she was hatching until he'd given this thing with the Slayer a good try. Er, or got rid of the idea entirely, of course. That would be even better. Yeah.
"I'll see ya then, Fangl- er, Blood Breath."
"See ya then, whelp."