Continued from Part 1





Listening and Lies


by
Daedreams





Part 2 - Prologue



“I thought we were friends.”

“We are.”

“I really hate you.”

“Not for long.”

“Did you get what you wanted?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“I really hate you.”

“I know.”



Part Five


Three weeks earlier

Things were looking up. After only a few days of rest, Miss Calendar was back teaching classes. She told Xander that as long as he stayed after school with her a couple days a week so she could make sure he understood at least the concept of the technology, then he would be getting a passing grade in computer science, no homework required. Little hero perk. Who knew?

The explanation to Giles as to why he knew what Angel was going to do was a little tricky. It had been the day after 'the incident' and the Watcher had asked Xander to meet him in the library before the others arrived. Xander had been going over in his mind what he was going to say, and when the time came, he still didn't know. The truth was always an option, but the possible verbal whipping he would get from that revelation was a little more than Xander was prepared to take. He settled for a sampling of the truth.

Xander told Giles that he was walking to Buffy's after he heard about Angel's visit to her house that night and came across Spike near a cemetery. He said that Spike never saw him, but was instead mumbling to himself and Xan was able to make out snippets of the one-sided conversation. He deciphered that the vampire was upset about some kind of plans Angel and Drusilla had made without him and that was when Spike said something like, 'after they kill the teacher tonight.' Xander filled in the blanks.

Giles mulled over that story, but Buffy, Willow, and Oz came into the library before he was able to ask any questions. After a few days of avoiding Giles anytime he got that inquisitive look in his eye, the 'overhearing Spike' story was generally accepted as what happened and everyone left it alone.

Buffy was also playing the avoidy-game with Xander during those days. He wasn't at all sure if it was because she was mad at him or if she just couldn't look the killer of her ex-boyfriend in the eyes. Either way, it was nothing good.

Four days after 'the incident,' Xander walked into the library and stumbled across Buffy and Miss Calendar in a tight embrace. When they pulled away from each other, he could tell they had both been crying. He shuffled his feet and made an attempt to back out the doors without being noticed, but Buffy looked over and saw him before he could escape. She walked over to him, eyes still glimmering with tears, and gently took his hand in hers.

"I'm sorry that it was you," she said quietly. "It should have been me." She stood on her toes and kissed him on the cheek. With a quick squeeze of his hand, she released it and walked out of the library. Xander couldn't hold back his own tears, and quickly moved passed Miss Calendar into the stacks to have a good cry.

Things seemed to be getting back to normal.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


Xander stood outside the factory. Every nerve ending in his body was telling him that this was a bad idea. What with Angel gone, he was sure that Spike and Drusilla had gotten back into their wicked ways. That was obviously the reason why Spike hadn't been at the cemetery this past week. He'd got his crazy vampire back.

But there was a part of Xander that needed to know. He needed to know that Spike was alright. And that was even scarier than standing this close to a vampire's lair with god knows how many vamps inside who would drain him in an instant.

Xander told his feet to move, and he cautiously walked over to a window. It took him several tries to find a window that had glass that wasn’t completely obstructed with black paint. Finally, in a small dark alley at the side of the building, he found one that wasn't painted quite as well. Peering through a layer of dirt and grime, he was able to get a fairly decent view of a large room with a long rectangular table surrounded by tall high-backed chairs. And, oddly enough, that was it. There were no vampires anywhere. Xander looked as close as he could at all the dark corners, but, even though it was eleven o'clock at night, there was no activity.

Well, maybe they left town. Or found a new place to hide out or something.

Then there he was. Spike came out of a room to Xander's left and rolled his wheelchair slowly past the large table toward a doorway on the other side of the room. Xan only saw Spike's back, but there was something odd about the way the vampire was moving. It was too slow, and not quite in a straight line. One hand kept slipping off the wheel of the chair, causing him to turn abruptly to one side or the other before he was able to readjust and go forward again. Almost like he was swaggering. And not in a cool John-Wayne-in-True-Grit kind of swagger, but more like a dad-are-you-sure-you-need-to-finish-the-entire-six-pack kind of swagger.

Xander backed away from the window and leaned against the opposite wall. He really wished that he hadn't thought about his father. His father. Who had switched from a six-pack a day to a fifth of scotch a day a long time ago. His dad. Who Xander knew was the reason his mother spent too much time at bridge clubs and garden clubs and book clubs. Dad. Who left bruises that were easier to explain away now that Xander was fighting demons from time to time. Dad. Who Xander had given up on. Who was hopeless. Who was beyond…help. Help.

With a new purpose, Xander walked around to the front of the building and found a large sliding door. The lock must have been pretty flimsy because he was able to get it open with only three strong pulls on the handle. Stepping into the vast cold space gave Xander an ominous and empty feeling. Dead things live here, his mind told him sharply. He ignored the voice and followed the sound of banging coming from his right.

He found Spike in a large industrial kitchen. All the cabinet doors were open, and the vampire was leaning down with his head inside a lower one pulling out giant pots and flinging them behind him.

"Spike!" Xander shouted over the clanging of cookware. Spike jumped, but his head was still in the cupboard which caused him to hit the back of his head on the opening's ledge. He grunted something Xander couldn't make out, backed out of the cabinet, and turned to look at him.

This time it was Xander's turn to be startled. Spike looked awful. More than awful. He looked…dead.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


The world was spinning. He didn't even have to open his eyes to see it. He could feel it. For just a moment he wished that he was human so he could vomit. Getting up wasn't an option. Hell, opening his eyes wasn't even an option. If he just laid perfectly still, then maybe he could pass out again. Wait. When did he pass out? How did I get on the bed?

Harris. The memory was there but a tad muddled. He remembered most of the last few days. But, really there wasn't much to remember. And how long had it been, anyway? He knew that he had fallen asleep and woken up several times, but he couldn't hone his senses to place the time of day right now. And Harris was there at some point. Did they have a conversation?

Spike didn’t like this quiet. It wasn’t right. He could only hear the old noises that a decrepit building makes and it just wasn’t enough. No wind, no animals, no distant cars, no heartbeat. He tried to remember the conversation he had with Harris last night (was it last night?) so he could grasp the memory of the heartbeat, but nothing came to him. Exactly how long did I stay drunk? And why am I sobering up now? Oh, yeah. That part he remembered. He had run out of alcohol.

Then it really all came flooding back to him. The why he was drinking in the first place. Dru was gone. And he wanted to forget again.

He focused on Harris, instead. More was coming back to him. Okay, he had run out of alcohol. Had scoured the entire factory twice over looking for anything that would keep him drunk. When he was tearing apart the cobwebs in the back of the kitchen cabinets, the whelp had showed up out of nowhere, screamed something at him, then just stood there and stared. It had been highly annoying. Spike told him to leave, unless he had come with a bottle of JD, but the kid just continued to look at him with a completely confused look on his face. Spike made a move to lunge at the boy, and that's when everything went black.

And now he was here on the bed. Had Harris put him to bed? Great. Just great. He had passed out in front of Harris the WimpBoy and had needed to be put to bed like a sick child. He wanted to vomit again.

Then another memory came flashing into focus. He remembered fading back into consciousness once after seeing Harris. He had been on the bed and the kid had been sitting beside him with his hand on Spike's shoulder. Harris was muttering something with his head down and Spike's muddy brain had been able to pick up a few words. Something like, "stupid… not dad… sense… annoying vampire… isn't fair… need anyone's help… stake him... not dad… what if… I could if… needs my help…" Then he had passed out again.

It was time to shut the brain off again. He tried to let the quiet suck him under. It was just too bloody quiet!

Just then, he heard the factory door open in the next room and instantly smelled chocolate and blood. There’s my boy. My heartbeat.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


Xander stood next to the bed and gazed down at the still body. He had seen some disturbing things here on the Hellmouth, but this creature in front of him was truly grotesque. So still and so thin. Too thin. A lesser body would surely be dead after what this being had put it through. Already sharp facial features had grown too sallow and sunken to look like a normal face. Rib bones sticking up so high over a nonexistent stomach that Xander could count each one even through the t-shirt. Normally tight jeans that hung off the man like a pair of Xander’s own sweatpants. A skeleton with flesh. But not even really flesh. Skin that clung to bones in an almost translucent state that revealed thin blue veins. Veins as thin as thread and as light blue as a too bright afternoon sky. But not dead. Not the right kind of dead. Vampires were living dead. This vampire deserved more.

As he stared down at Spike, Xander began to feel a sense of dread that perhaps he was too late. Was it even possible to bring a vampire back to its normal virile self when the body looked like this? And more importantly, why did he even want to? He had had this conversation with himself last night after dragging an unconscious Spike from the kitchen to the bedroom. He had made up his mind to help the vampire, but was still trying to wrap his head around why he was doing it.

During the few times that they talked, Spike had revealed himself to be a man of profound emotion. Xan discovered that a vampire, well, this vampire at least, could feel and laugh and love. And change perhaps? Was Xander willing to take the chance of restoring this demon if he was just going to go back to trying to kill his friends?

Spike’s eyes opened, causing Xander to jump back just a tad. They looked at each other for a beat before he was able to relax and smile a little.

“Brought you some blood,” Xander told the corpse and shivered as Spike let a slow grin spread across his face that reinforced the skeleton motif by adding a skull to the top of the body.

“You brought me somebody to eat?” The skull asked.

“No! And eww!” Xander set down a brown paper bag on the table next to the bed. “Pig’s blood. From the butcher. And can I just say again - eww.”

Spike let the smile fade away and made an attempt to push himself to a seated position on the bed. His arms started to shake a little under his own insignificant weight, and Xander instinctively put his hands under Spike’s arms to steady him. Spike growled at him, so he backed off with his hands in the air. He looked around the room and settled down into a large black leather chair in a corner.

The vampire was able to get himself adjusted against the headboard. He reached over to the bedside table and took one of the two containers of blood out of the bag. Xander watched in disgust as the blood dripped down Spike’s chin as he drank half of it down in one gulp.

Then Spike’s body did the most beautiful thing. In the semi-dark room, Xander was able to see the veins under the vampire’s skin start to glow an almost neon blue. The new color pulsated a few times and the lines seemed to grow thicker with each beat. The brightness faded after a moment and the veins contracted to their previous state.

Wow. Vampire restoration in action. Spike was staring down at the container of blood in his hands. The vampire smiled slightly and let out a small laugh.

“Fill me in on the joke,” Xander requested.

“Well, it's a pretty sight, isn't it? I’m achy and broody and drinking pig’s blood. Just give me an excessive amount of hair gel and a Slayer to shag, and I’m bloody Angel.”

Xander laughed with him. “Well, can’t do anything about the Slayer part, but here-” He removed a plastic tube from his jacket pocket and tossed it into the vampire’s lap. Spike picked it up and read the label. Vital Sassoon Sleek Straightening Balm. He looked back at Xander with a raised eyebrow.

“Don’t know if it’s your brand, but…well, your hair’s a mess.”





Part Six

“All I’m saying is that it’s not the same.”

“But, why? You need to explain.”

“Bloody hell. Why? What’s so important?”

“Cause, I’m the one providing you with this oh-so-disturbing nourishment, and if it’s not doing any good, then I need to know how to make it better.”

“The only way it’s going to be better is if you bring me an actual person.”

“Well, that’s never gonna happen.”

“Then what’s the point?”

“The point is…well, I’m just curious. I’m a curious cat. I’m a cat of the breed of curiosity. Just tell me.” Okay, at this point Xander was definitely whining. But if Spike was going to bitch and moan every time he came here with another batch of pig’s blood, then Xander wanted to know what the big difference was between that and human blood.

It had been two weeks since Xander had found Spike at the factory. Since then, he had been coming back almost every day with blood to replenish the vampire’s strength. And it seemed to be working. On the outside, Spike looked much better. He was still too thin, but he had regained muscle mass, and his skin was back to its normal pale white color and no longer translucent. Xander figured that there was still a lot more healing to do. He suspected that it had taken much longer than the one week after Angel was dust to cause that kind of malnutrition, but Xander knew better than to ask too much about it. Spike was still reeling from the loss of his precious (and freakish) Drusilla. He still talked about her, but only when telling stories of long ago, nothing recent.

Xander had made a habit of finding the time to come by after Scooby meetings or patrolling. The local butcher had gotten to know him by now, and wasn’t it funny that he never asked about the odd order. He had a sneaking suspicion that the butcher was a demon of some kind, and reserving pig’s blood for special orders was not as uncommon as Xander hoped.

He also enjoyed watching Spike heal. It was a fascinating process. And the talking was still good. Of course, conversation wasn’t part of the deal. But Spike never really complained. Not about the talking part, anyway. No, the complaining was about the fact that he had resorted to having a human bring him blood. They both agreed that it was a fair deal, though. Xander would help Spike regain the strength he needed to continue healing, and Spike promised that as soon as he could walk again, he would leave Sunnydale, the country even.

The fairness of the deal didn’t stop the endlessly complaining, though. If it wasn’t about the pig’s blood, then it was about the fact that Xander wouldn’t bring him cigarettes or alcohol. Xander explained that he couldn’t bring cigarettes because he was too young to buy them and he didn’t know anybody who smoked. He said the same thing about the alcohol, too, but he figured that Spike knew he was lying about that. Xander knew lots of people who drank. All grown-ups had alcohol of some kind or another in their homes. Even Giles. Most conveniently, his father. But Xander refused to steal from his father. Besides, he didn’t like to see Spike drunk. It was entirely too familiar.

Spike had not left the factory since Xander found him. The vampire was much stronger now, and Xander was sure that he could make his own way through town and steal his own blood, cigarettes and alcohol. In fact, he was positive of that fact. He figured that maybe it fell under the category of being depressed about Drusilla. Depression had of way of keeping you indoors. Two weeks ago, he had tried to bring up the disappearance of the female vampire, but Spike had vamped out and growled at him, so Xander figured it was a touchy subject and left it alone.

“Fine,” Spike hissed out at Xander. “You want to know what’s so special about human blood, do you?” Xander crossed his legs on the central table he was sitting on and settled in for a story. He really loved Spike’s stories.


*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*`*


Spike had to laugh a little at the boy. He had made himself comfortable on the table like he normally did when Spike was about to tell a story about his past with Dru and Angelus and Darla. But he really didn’t know what the big deal was. Human blood is better. It just is. But Harris was being so insistent. So Spike was trying to think of something to tell the whelp. It occurred to him that there must be some kind of real reason. He had just never thought about it before. So he just started talking, hoping that he could make some kind of sense that would satisfy the boy-cat's curiosity.

“It tastes different.”

“Well, duh! Explain the taste.”

“Explain the taste. Okay. Pig’s blood is mostly salt. It has kind of a dull sweetness to it as well.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know what pig’s blood tastes like. Why is it different from human?”

“You know what pig’s blood tastes like? You been sampling what you bring me?”

“No. I was possessed by a hyena once. I ate a pig. It was a thing.”

“Please tell me there‘s a story there.”

“My story later. First this.”

“Fine. But to tell you what human blood is like, I have to start with pig. This helps that you know, though. Like I said, pig has a dull sweetness to it. Sweet like…somebody added sweetener to it. Like it’s fake. And it sits on your tongue. Coats the inside of your mouth and throat like glue. Doesn’t go down right. And too salty. Human blood is salty, but it’s not…too much. Human has just the right amount of salt. The salt complements it. Doesn‘t make it taste salty, just…spiced right.”

Hmm. This was ringing truer than Spike thought it would. Plus he found it easy to talk about blood when he could hear it pumping so gracefully through his boy’s body. He let the music penetrate him while he continued to talk. Bump-bump-pause-bump-bump.

“Not spice like Thai food spice. But spice like a perfectly seasoned mulled wine. And sweet.” Spike felt his mouth start to water. “Sweet like strawberries. Like watermelon. Like…chocolate.”

Xander’s eyes widened at that and he licked his lips. Spike heard the kid’s heart race for a few beats before it slowed back down to its comforting bump-bump-pause-bump-bump-pause.

“Yeah. Chocolate. Sticky sweet milk chocolate. But good sticky. Melted chocolate. And warm. Blood that comes directly from a human’s veins pumps hot into a vampire and keeps pumping until the entire body is warm like California summer nights. And that warmth gives a vampire adrenaline. Energy that can make a vamp feel alive. Energy that will leave me bouncing off the walls for days.

“Human blood is what makes a vampire a vampire. Don’t know how Angel survived without it. It’s why we heal so fast. In fact, I’m sure it’s why I’m not out of this bloody chair yet. Dru brought me a few humans at first, but I think she got bored, so after a couple weeks she would just pick up a stray dog on the way home. Ever eat a dog? Not good. They’re practically flavorless with no sweetness to them at all, and chewy like gum.” Spike shuttered.

“Then when Angelus showed up, he started to bring me leftover people, but it didn’t take him long to just forget about me. So when you found me a few weeks ago after Dru left…” Spike looked up at Harris and realized that the kid had never really pressed the issue of what had happened during that week, but he sure must have been curious, because the look on his face now was pure excitement barely concealed by concern.

“I hadn’t had anything to eat in weeks. A little over a month, I think. Of course, when you showed up, I had also been drinking for a week straight which quite possibly was eating up my insides.”

Harris tilted his head at Spike. “So the pig’s blood isn’t really helping with the healing?”

“No, it’s helping. Just not as fast as human would. It‘s like craving chocolate cake, but only getting an apple.” Spike let the kid consider that for a moment, then rolled himself a few feet closer to the table. “So, if you happen to come by with a willing human some time…You know, a nice pretty young thing with a long white neck and pure virgin blood pumping through warm blue veins…” Spike was looking directly into the kid’s eyes and moving closer and closer to him with each word. “Or hey, how about something a little more convenient…”

Just when he reached the table, Harris unfolded a leg and pressed it firmly onto Spike’s knee. The kid pushed hard and Spike let the chair propel him backwards a few yards before he grabbed the wheels again and stopped himself. He didn’t really expect that the boy would let him feed off him, but it was worth a try. Actually, what was worth it was listening to Harris’ heartbeat during the entire exchange. It didn’t speed up at all. Not once. Of course, Spike didn't really know how menacing he was coming across. But still, this kid was such an anomaly to Spike. He wondered what it would take to actually get his blood to start racing. What could speed that heartbeat up? Besides the mention of chocolate, that is. But, then again, this slow and steady beat was one of the things he liked about the boy.

ONE of the things? His mind suddenly screamed at him. What else about this little boy could you possibly like? But Spike knew that this voice in his head was just a small part of his demon that had not come to terms with the fact that he had made a friend. A human friend. This is all kinds of wrong. God, listen to me - I’m starting to think like he talks. Spike silenced the voice quickly and focused on Harris who had jumped down from the table and was now leaning against one of the high-backed dining chairs.

“Why virgin blood?” This was an unexpected question. Spike figured Harris would be chastising him for suggesting a taste, but the kid just completely ignored it. Interesting.

“Virgin blood is thicker than non-pure. This is harder to describe because you can’t compare it to actual food. There is no substitute. Innocence and purity have a taste. Have a distinct flavor. Not the kind that your taste buds pick up on. It’s a feeling, like a…presence. When virgin blood flows through a vampire’s veins it’s like tiny little pin pricks all over the body, but from the inside. It’s sharp, but in a good way. Like pain during sex. Virgin blood leaves a vampire with a drug high. Like all’s right with the world and everybody should feel as good as you.

“And, God, it will make you horny. Regular blood does as well, but virgin…you have no idea. Virgin blood will go straight to where you want it most, and let me tell you, that was when it was great to have Dru around. When the two of us would feed off the same virgin, we wouldn’t stop shagging for days. Sometimes we wouldn’t kill it right away. We would take a virgin home and keep it alive just by drinking small amounts of blood at a time.

“One time we kept this young boy around for a couple of months like that. This was in Portugal. Sometime in the ’30s. He was seventeen, eighteen years old, and he was a screamer. So scared. I was surprised he didn’t die of a heart attack during that time. Every time we walked into the room where we kept him chained, his heart would race so fast that I thought it was going to explode. We would get such a rush of blood when we bit into him that we didn’t even have to suck. It just flowed straight down our throats so fast and got us so hot and bothered so quickly, that we would shag right there in front him. And his heart would never slow down. So fast, all the time. And he never stopped screaming. From the moment we walked into the room until we left. The screaming, the blood rush. It was intoxicating.”

“Uh, Spike?” Spike opened his eyes, not remembering when he had closed them, and looked at Harris. The boy was looking uncomfortable and bouncing slightly on his toes.

“What? Was that story a little too much for you?”

“No. It’s just…well…will you stop that please?”

Spike noticed where the boy was looking and glanced down at his own lap. Much to his surprise, he discovered that at some point he had gotten quite hard and was stroking himself over his jeans. He stopped moving immediately, but left his hand where it was. Felt good. It had been awhile. He looked back at Harris and smirked. Then let out a little laugh.

“I guess that story was a little too much for me.

“Yeah, that’s gonna be my cue to go. Looks like you need some alone with…yourself.” Harris started toward the door.

“Well, what do you expect, kid? You get me talking about human blood and virgins, but you refuse to bring me any. And there you are, all the time, with exactly what I crave pumping slowly through your veins, day in and day out.” The kid stopped and turned to look at him. Spike started rubbing the growing bulge in his jeans again. “And all I can do is sit here and listen to that pumping and you’re just there - taunting me, teasing me.”

“I don’t mean to.”

“I know you don’t, kid. Can’t stop your blood from pumping.”

“Does it bother you? My being here?”

“Didn't say that, did I? I like you here. You really leaving now?”

“I’m not staying while you do that.”

“Fair enough. Don‘t think I can stop at this point. Will you be back tomorrow? I have something to show you.”

“What?”

“A surprise.”

“That’s a little disturbing.”

“I think you’ll like it.”

Harris turned his head away from the vampire again and sighed. “Okay. I’ll be by after Scooby research.” He continued toward the door when Spike unzipped his jeans to allow for skin on skin contact.

Perhaps to let Spike know that the public masturbation didn’t bother him as much as he initially let on, the kid stopped at the door and joked, “Think I’ll stop off and get some chocolate cake on the way home. Would you like me to bring you back an apple?”

That made Spike grin. “Wanker,” he called after the boy as he opened the door and walked out.

Vampire hearing let Spike pick up Harris’ quiet response as he shut the door behind him, “No, Spike, that would be you.”




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