The Guide

by
Whichclothes



Little white marshmallows floated in the chocolate froth, more shape than substance, and the heady steam curled sluggishly to Xander’s nose. He knew if he dared to sip the drink, he’d end up burning his tongue, but that was okay; all he wanted was to wrap his hands around the heavy mug and feel the heat begin to warm his chapped skin.

He didn’t look out the slightly fogged windows where crowds were hurrying by, their shoulders hunched against the cold, bodies obscured by layers and layers of wool and down. Instead, he focused his single eye on the chipped Formica tabletop, scratched with initials and obscure little rants and symbols. Vandalism or magic, he could never be certain.

“Spring for a second cup?”

Xander twitched at the familiar voice, but when he lifted his head his face was composed, neutral. Spike was standing beside the table. His skin was as pale as ever, except for the pink tip of his nose. There was a faded bruise under his right eye. His nearly-white hair was stuck in tufts that reminded Xander of a hedgehog, his eyes were lined with smeared black makeup, and the denim jacket he wore was much too thin. Spike was too thin as well: cheekbones like knife blades, his trembling frame looking as if it could blow away on a good gust of wind.

“Needn’t gawk, wanker. D’you have the dosh or not?”

Xander blinked and nodded his head at the vinyl seat across from him. “Have a seat.”

As Spike sank into the booth, trying to look cool but not quite masking his relief, Xander waved at the middle-aged waitress who was wiping a table nearby. “Another cup of cocoa,” he called to her. She stared for a moment before slowly ambling behind the counter.

Xander and Spike stared at one another. It was Spike who broke the gaze first, shifting his eyes momentarily to the ashtray on the table. “Don’t suppose I could bum a fag as well,” he said.

At one time, Xander would have snickered. Now, he only shook his head. “Don’t smoke.”

“Shouldn’t start, mate,” Spike said with a grin. “Those things’ll bloody kill you.” Xander’s answering laughter surprised him. Spike’s hands settled on the table top and jittered there for a few seconds until he seized a sugar packet and began to mangle it. Sugar sprinkled slowly out onto the Formica. It made a slightly crunchy sound when the waitress plopped his cup down. Unlike Xander, Spike wasted no time in slurping at his chocolate, and although Xander winced to think of the burns it must be causing, Spike only rolled his eyes back in his head and moaned with pleasure. When he set the cup down again, his sharp tongue darted out to swipe the foam from his upper lip.

“Chose a hell of a time to tour the Big Apple, mate. Y’ought to return to Poncy Corners, come back to the city when it thaws out instead.”

“I’m not a tourist.”

“Not a local either.”

“Yeah? How can you tell?”

Spike shrugged. “Dunno. Don’t have the look of it. You haven’t … haven’t built a protective shell, yeah? Not yet.”

“And you have?”

Spike’s smile was brittle. “Mine’s a mile thick, mate.” He took another long sip of his cocoa and smacked his lips. “Hits the spot, that does. Haven’t had the stuff in ages.” He unbuttoned his jacket, revealing a torn Iggy Pop t-shirt beneath.

Xander was still chilled to the bone, still huddled in his thick coat. He noticed the way Spike’s eyes tracked the waitress as she walked by, this time carrying a pair of heaping plates to the customers two tables over. “That looks good,” Xander said. “Want a burger or something?”

Spike’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Reckon I come that cheaply, do you?”

“Nope. Just figured you might be hungry. I am,” he added untruthfully.

“It won’t get you in my trousers.”

“Understood.”

Spike seemed to relax a little. They both grabbed plastic-coated menus from behind the napkin dispenser. Xander pretended to read his, but really he was looking over the edge of it, staring at Spike, wondering at the familiarity of those blue eyes, of that scarred eyebrow. When the waitress clomped over, Spike ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fries. Xander asked for a bowl of noodle soup because the cocoa was cooling and he needed something to warm his hands, and a plate of onion rings because he had the feeling Spike would steal them.

Once the waitress had left, Spike cocked his head for a moment, like he was trying to figure Xander out. Then he stuck out a hand. “Name’s Spike.”

Xander shook the hand briefly. It was warm. “Xander,” he said.

“Not a tourist. Why are you here?”

“Business.”

Spike gestured at him. “No suit.”

“My business doesn’t need suits.”

That earned another long, speculative look. And then Spike must have concluded that he wasn’t going to get anything else out of Xander, because he shrugged again. “Where you from?” he asked over the rim of his mug.

“California.”

“Should have stayed home. Warm there.”

“It’s been a really long time since I was home,” Xander replied, not adding that he’d be cold wherever he went.

“Me as well,” Spike said a little wistfully, before clearing his throat and grinning a little. “Not that it’s warm where I come from, mind you. Forever gray and gloomy. But rarely like this.” He waved at the window. “Not bloody arctic.”

“So … why not leave New York? You could head west.”

“Nah. This place … fits my lifestyle better, yeah? City that never sleeps, and ’m a creature of the night.” His hands had left the cup and were back on the table top, chipped black fingernails tapping out a tune only he could hear.

Then their food arrived and Spike dove in enthusiastically, while Xander sniffed uselessly at his soup. When he was very young—maybe six or seven—and first faced with making his own dinners, his repertoire had been limited: Wonder Bread with Jif and strawberry jam, hard boiled eggs with Ritz crackers, or Campbell’s chunky chicken noodle. He couldn’t recall the taste, but he remembered how the thick, short noodles had slipped between his lips, how the rubbery mushrooms had balanced on his tongue, how the slices of vegetables had smooshed between his molars.

Spike devoured his burger and fries and most of the onion rings. If he noticed that Xander hadn’t eaten, he didn’t say anything. But finally he leaned back in his seat and rubbed his belly with a little sigh of satisfaction. “Cheers, mate.”

“No problem.”

“Now, if you fancy negotiating something a bit more … private …”

“No thanks. How about— Can we just sit here a little while? It’s kind of cozy, isn’t it?”

Spike hesitated a moment, jiggling his knees, before nodding. “Right then. But just for a bit. I have to … have to be somewhere.”

“Just for a bit,” Xander agreed.

The waitress came and took away their dishes, not commenting on Xander’s uneaten food. She returned a moment later with coffee. Spike dumped several packets of sugar in his, but Xander only wrapped his hands around the heat again.

The wind suddenly picked up, rattling the windows in their frames, making the pedestrians scurry faster as they clutched at their hats and scarves.

“What’s going through your skull?” Spike asked after a while.

“Did you ever think about alternatives, Spike? Other choices, other lives?”

“If you’re one of those Bible-thumping nutters, I’ll tell you right now, I won’t be redeemed. Long past that now. Don’t even want it. I’ll keep my bloody, sullied soul.” He crossed his arms defiantly on his chest.

“I’m not talking about religion. I’m talking about … alternate universes, I guess. You know, places where some stuff is the same, even some of the people are the same, but other stuff is different. There could be zillions of ’em. A guy could spend forever, just passing from one to the next …”

Spike’s eyes had widened. “You’re mental.”

Xander smiled mildly. “No, not really. Maybe I watched too much sci fi when I was kid.”

“Expected it would be pirates that floated your boat, mate. Long John Silver, Blackbeard, like that.”

Xander rubbed absently beneath his eye patch. Sometimes he almost forgot it was there. But he didn’t take offense; instead, he remembered for the first time in a long while that he had Spike to thank for the one remaining eye. “I was always more of a Captain Hook guy, myself,” he said with a smile.

“Then perhaps ’m a bit of a Lost Boy. Can’t help growing up, though.” Spike scooted off the seat and buttoned his jacket back up to his neck. “Ta for the cocoa and the nosh. Perhaps I’ll see you about.”

Xander sighed. “Yeah. Maybe you will.”

***

Xander paced the length of his motel room. It wasn’t really a motel room, of course, although it looked like one. Not a rathole, but nothing fancy by a long shot. A Travelodge maybe, or a Motel 6. The type of place he used to stay in all the time after Sunnydale ended. It had a queen-sized bed with a patterned red bedspread and twin built-in end tables, each with its own lamp. There was a desk with the wood veneer beginning to peel off and a cabinet with an old-fashioned TV on top. There were two bland landscape paintings. He hated those fucking paintings and he’d destroyed them many times, but they always came back. The window had yellowish curtains and always looked out over the same empty parking lot. The fluorescent light in the bathroom flickered and the sink dripped a little, but at least there was a tub he could fill with hot water now and then. God, that felt good.

Now, though, he paced and he muttered out loud like a lunatic. Maybe he was a lunatic. Maybe this was all some kind of delusion and he was actually locked up tight someplace with bars on the windows and men in white scrubs, with nurses who dispensed good drugs in little paper cups. He wasn’t certain if that was a comforting thought or not.

“What’s the problem this time?” Rona said, appearing next to his window without so much as a poof. She wore denim overalls and a green long-sleeved shirt, and her dreads were pulled back in a red bandanna. She wasn’t really Rona—the Sunnydale Potential from so very long ago—any more than Xander’s room was really a Travelodge, but that’s who she looked like and that’s the name she went by. Xander had never been able to figure out the logic of being stuck with her, of all people. Maybe there was no logic.

Xander stopped pacing and planted himself in front of her. “I’m not gonna do it.”

She smiled, unperturbed. “Of course you will. It’s your job.”

“Well I quit. Consider this my resignation.”

“We’ve been through this before. Lots of times. You can’t quit.”

“Why not?” Xander yelled. “What’ll you do if I just fucking refuse? Send me to hell? Go ahead. At least I’ll finally be warm.”

Rona rolled her eyes as if he were a recalcitrant child. “Nobody’s going to hell, Xander. C’mon, be reasonable. You’ve done this plenty of times. Even with Spike.”

“I know! It’s just …” The anger flowed out of him, replaced by weariness. “He’s alive. This Spike is alive, and young, and … and he just needs a break maybe.”

“He’s never gonna get that break, honey,” she responded. “He’s outta time. You know you’re not the one who’s gonna kill him—”

“I’ll only lead him on his way. Yadda yadda yadda.” He walked over to the bed and slumped onto the mattress, burying his face in his hands. “I’m fucking tired, Rona.”

“You knew what you were getting into when you signed up, pal.”

He really hadn’t. There he’d been, neck broken, struggling to draw a few breaths and wondering why he bothered since he was bleeding out anyway. A battle was still raging around him, and when Rona had knelt at his side he’d assumed she was the Rona he knew, one of the army of Slayers. But then he’d remembered that Rona was in Chicago, not fighting this fight in Scranton, and anyway the girl at his side was sort of glowing in a disturbing way.

“Gotta decide quick,” she’d said. “You’re dying.”

“Got … that,” he’d gasped. He didn’t hurt anywhere, not anymore, but it was taking all he had to move his lungs.

“You wanna keep on helping your friends?”

He hadn’t even considered before answering. “Yes.”

What would he have said back then if she had told him that “helping” was going to consist of repeatedly playing morbid usher, finding dozens of versions of Buffy and Willow and Giles and Dawn—and yes, even Spike—all of them dying, and showing them the Door. The Door he never got to pass through, catching only quick glimpses of light. He didn’t know what his response would have been. Because yes, even when those versions of his friends had never met him in their realities, his presence seemed to calm them, seemed to ease their transition. He was helping them, no question about it. But Christ, the cost to him: always traveling, always cold, always alone. Always seeing people he cared about die, sometimes in horrible ways.

“I can’t do it,” he whispered into his hands.

Rona had no pity for him. “Sure you can. It’s easy as pie.” And then she was gone as completely as if she’d never been there at all.

Xander sat with his face in his hands.

Nobody was going to come drag him out the motel door. If he wanted to, he supposed he could just go on sitting there on his ugly bedspread forever. But people would still die—there wasn’t any way he could stop that—and then he’d just be alone in his shitty motel room with the dripping sink and the ugly paintings and the TV that showed only Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch and the various CSIs.

After a while, Xander unfolded himself from the mattress. He zipped up his coat—he wore it all the time except when he was bathing or asleep—and walked out the door and into the night.

He hadn’t spent much time in New York and he wasn’t sure what neighborhood this was, but he could tell it wasn’t a good one. The few people on the sidewalks were skulking and furtive. There were piles of garbage and the buildings were coated in graffiti and filth, and none of the street lights worked. The only sign of dynamic life came from the alley across the street, where he could hear the dull thump of music and noisy conversation. He crossed the street and entered the alley.

Deep in the darkness was a little island of light, and within it a man was sitting on a stool. He was a big man, made even bigger by a long thick coat. He had gold hoops in his ears and a faded tattoo on his face; the light was too dim for Xander to see what the tattoo depicted.

“Yeah?” the man demanded in a voice like a bass drum.

“I want in.”

The man looked him up and down, poker-faced, then grunted: “Ten bucks.”

Xander dug in his pocket and came up with a small wad of bills. He had to give Rona credit—she always gave him enough cash to get by. He peeled off a twenty and handed the bill over; it wasn’t as if he needed the extra money. The man narrowed his eyes at Xander but took the cash and opened the door.

Inside was a chaos of writhing bodies and wailing music. It was hot, and Xander could feel the heat even though it didn't warm him. The huge neon sign over the packed bar read “Second Circle,” and the men who danced and drank and groped were sweaty, half-clad in leather if they wore anything at all. A lot of them had collars around their necks; quite a few had fresh welts across their backs or thighs or asses. Xander had been in a few places like this when he was alive and exploring the edges of his libido. He’d decided back then that while dominance games were not his thing, men definitely were, and he’d gone on to explore more mainstream bars where a guy could hook up with another guy for an hour or two. He knew what Second Circle must smell like—beer and sweat and sex—and he missed that earthy reek as badly as he missed the taste of chocolate.

“Kinda overdressed, ain’t ya?” The boy who’d approached him was very young, possibly not even legal. He was wearing nothing but a silver earring and a tight black g-string. His black hair was cropped very short and his caramel skin looked shiny and slick.

“I’m … looking for someone,” Xander replied.

The boy stepped even closer and tilted his head coquettishly upwards—he was three or four inches shorter than Xander—and batted his long eyelashes. “Maybe you found him. Sir.” He purred the last word like a cat.

But Xander shook his head. “Someone specific. Bleached blond, English accent, goes by Spike.”

“Oh,” said the boy, wilting a little with disappointment. “Him.”

“Have you seen him tonight?”

“You a cop?”

Xander laughed. “How many one-eyed cops have you ever met, kid? And if I was undercover, don’t you think I’d have worn something different than khakis and a parka? ”

The boy seemed to consider that for a moment. “If you ain’t a cop, then feel me up.” He thrust his narrow hips forward.

“Huh?”

“Squeeze my dick. Ain’t no cop gonna do that.”

Xander wasn’t sure the boy was right. Even the straightest of straight-arrow detectives might be willing to do a quick grope in order to fit in. But the boy was waiting expectantly, so Xander reached out and grasped the bulge in his g-string, giving a stroke to the shaft and a nice little squeeze to the balls. “There. Satisfied?”

“Not yet,” the boy said with a grin. “You sure you ain’t looking for me, sir?”

“Spike,” Xander said.

The boy sighed dramatically and waved toward a stairway at the back of the room. “Last I saw him he was going up there. But that was a couple of hours ago. Dunno if he’s still there.”

“Thanks.” Xander gave the boy’s ass a good squeeze before pushing past him.

It wasn’t easy to get across the packed room. Men grabbed at him or simply danced in his way obliviously. He had to push and duck and execute a few fancy steps of his own, but eventually he made it to the stairway. In the small alcove beside it, several men were gathered around—some of them jacking off—as a man in black chaps fucked a naked man against the wall. “Bitch,” the top was growling as his hips snapped. “Fucking slutty whore.” But judging by the sounds the bottom was making, he wasn’t minding one bit.

Xander climbed the stairs and opened the door at the top. He found himself in a dirty, claustrophobic hallway lined with identical doors. As he walked past one, he heard the unmistakable sounds of flesh being beaten and muffled cries, but when he cracked the door open he found strangers: two men busily paddling the reddened ass of a third. He shut the door again before they noticed.

After that, he tried all the doors. A couple of them were locked. A few more were empty of everything except various chains and ropes and shelves of bondage gear. Others contained men fucking or beating each other, and in one room a small group of men were shooting up.

Spike was in the last room on the left.

He was naked, spread-eagled and chained to a metal bed frame. He had a black plastic ball gag in his mouth and was struggling to draw air through his flattened nose. His eyes were swollen shut, his white hair was nearly black with drying blood, and the rest of his body … Xander couldn’t look at that.

Whoever had done this to Spike was long gone. Xander hurried to his side and fumbled desperately at the buckle that held the gag in place. But his fingers were clumsy and the buckle was slippery with fluids and by the time he finally got it off, Spike’s lungs had wheezed to a halt.

“Spike!” Xander cried, slapping Spike’s ravaged face, pounding on his battered chest. “Jesus, Spike, hang on! I’ll get help.”

“Bit late for that, innit?”

Xander spun around. Spike was leaning against the wall beside the door, face restored, clothed in black and denim, a cigarette dangling from two fingers. Xander could see the peeling green wallpaper behind him.

“CPR!” Xander said. “I think I can do CPR.”

Spike shrugged. “Don’t bother. Wanker ruptured something in here,” he pressed his palm against his abdomen, “and my inside’s a bigger bloody mess than the outside.”

Xander staggered a few steps away from the corpse, a few closer to the ghost. “I’m sorry, Spike. If I’d been a little faster—”

“Not your fault. ’T’s mine. Took on rougher trade than I should have.” His cocksure voice wavered, grew wistful. “Was only hoping for enough dosh for a warm place to kip for a few nights. ’T’s bloody cold outside. ’M bloody cold now.” He wrapped his arms around himself.

“I know,” Xander said. He came a little closer, and Spike didn’t seem to mind when Xander laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Never reckoned the Grim Reaper would look like you. Where’s your scythe?”

“The scythe was Buffy’s, and I’m not the Grim Reaper. I’m … his assistant, I guess.” He laughed humorlessly. “Donut Boy even in the afterlife.”

Spike squinted at him. “Don’t have a bloody idea what you’re on about, mate.”

“It doesn’t matter.” Xander glanced back at the corpse. “Just—let’s go, okay?”

“Go where?” Spike looked suddenly terrified.

“I’m kinda not sure. Onward. Somewhere else. It’s a good place, I promise.”

With a shaky voice, Spike asked, “What’s it like?”

“I don’t know. I’m not allow— I’ve never been. But everyone who goes there, I know they’re good people, I know something good’s waiting for them. No more … no more of this shit, right?” He waved vaguely at the body. “No more pain. I think maybe … maybe their loved ones are there, waiting for them.”

But Spike was still pressed against the wall, huddled in on himself. “What if a bloke … what if he hasn’t any loved ones?” he whispered. He was looking down at the filthy floor.

Oh, fuck. Xander had witnessed worse scenes than this, plenty of times. He’d viewed his friends die in any number of horrible, drawn-out ways, and his eye had remained dry. He wasn’t going to cry now. “Maybe they find someone there.”

Without looking up, Spike said, “What if I won’t go?”

“Then you stay here. A ghost. And Spike, take it from me: you don’t want to do that. Always cold, always alone, can’t even taste a fucking cup of hot chocolate.” His voice cracked and he stopped, slightly appalled at himself. He was supposed to comfort the newly deceased, not horrify them. He took a deep breath and let it out, then squeezed Spike’s shoulder. “Come on. It’ll be okay. I’ll take you right to the Door.”

Spike finally looked up at him. “And then?”

With a weak attempt at a smile, Xander replied, “And then it’ll be all good. Someone will be there for you when you get Inside.”

Spike’s jaw worked and he gave a slight nod. Xander reached for the doorknob, but before he opened the door he glanced back and saw Spike’s mangled earthly remains. He imagined cops arriving, maybe laughing at the faggot whore who’d bitten off more than he could chew. Imagined the body being thrown into a body bag and carted to a morgue, a medical examiner clinically documenting all the damage, and then the cadaver dumped namelessly into some unmarked grave. No mourners, no one to even notice that Spike had existed and now was gone.

Xander couldn’t do much about most of that, but there were a few small gestures he could make. He could give Spike just a little dignity in death.

As the ghost watched quietly, Xander searched until he found the key to the manacles, and he unfastened the chains from Spike’s wrists and ankles, wincing at the deep bruises and bloody indentations that spoke of desperate struggle. He rearranged the limbs, placing the legs chastely together and setting the arms beside the torso. He unstuck a few locks of hair from the forehead. The corpse still looked horrible and he might be screwing up evidence, but he had the suspicion that the cops wouldn’t be investigating this death too rigorously anyway. And then, because the room contained no blankets or other suitable coverings—there was no sign of Spike’s clothes—Xander unzipped his parka and laid it over Spike’s body from chest to thighs.

He turned back to the ghost. “Okay,” Xander said. “Let’s go.”

He actually held Spike’s hand as they walked down the dingy corridor and down the stairs. People were still fucking and drinking and dancing, but nobody saw them as they walked across the dance floor; the patrons of Second Circle simply moved out of their way, perhaps shivering a little despite the heat as they sensed death nearby. Xander was used to this part—once he collected his charges, he became invisible to the world, at least until he moved on to his next assignment.

The bouncer didn’t look their way as they exited into the alley, and when they reached the street it was deserted, save for a stray cat that crept along the opposite wall.

“Where are we going?” Spike asked. He was clutching Xander’s hand tightly enough to hurt, which was wonderful. Xander was very rarely touched by anyone for more than a moment or two.

“Not far.”

Xander led them down the sidewalk and around the corner, onto a wide street that was also empty of people and that suddenly looked slightly foreign. Spike looked around, both in fear and wonder. “Bloody hell. Euston Road, innit? Used to come down here, now and then, poke about in the library. Guards didn’t mind if I kept quiet and didn’t touch anything. It was … peaceful like. Didn’t have to keep looking over my shoulder every minute.”

“Sounds nice,” Xander said sincerely.

“Was.”

They walked another two blocks in silence, and there it was, sitting incongruously beside the sidewalk: the Door. Spike barked out a laugh. “St. Pancras! Knew you could get to Paris from here, but didn’t expect you could travel to the afterlife.”

The Door always looked different. This time it was wide and wooden, with brick columns on either side and a gracefully carved arch above. The knob was a simple brass ball. Neither of them reached for it. They were still holding hands.

“What happens to you?” Spike asked.

“I move on.”

“To another of those universes you were nattering about?”

“Probably.”

“Isn’t it difficult, adjusting to new worlds all the time?”

“Not so much. The differences between them are pretty subtle, usually. I sort of run into the same people.”

Spike’s eyes were very sharp. “Me? Do you run into me?”

“Um … yeah. Sometimes.”

“Why?”

“Because where I come from we … well, we knew each other.”

“Were we lovers?”

That made Xander chuckle. “Hardly. More like … colleagues, I guess. Although at the end we were friends.” He pointed at his good eye. “You saved me from losing this one.”

Spike lifted his chin. “What was I, in your world? A junkie? A rent boy?”

“No. You were … well, you were a hero. Bona fide. Saved the world.”

“The world?” Spike asked with deep skepticism but maybe a tiny bit of hope.

“Whole fucking planet, Spike.”

“Oh.” Spike’s voice was quiet, but he seemed to stand a little straighter. “How’d I manage that, then?”

There was no time for discussions of vampires and Slayers and ugly jewelry. Even if there was time, and even now as a ghost, Spike might have a hard time believing it anyway. “It’s a long story,” Xander finally replied.

Spike clutched his hand even tighter. “Tell it.”

“Can’t. Time for you to move on.”

Spike looked away, then back at Xander with a nod. He began to reach for the doorknob with his free hand, then stopped. “Why’d you do it?” He jerked his head back in the direction they’d come from. “Your coat.”

“Dunno. You looked cold.”

Spike nodded again, very slightly. He finally released Xander’s hand and then turned the knob.

The Door opened smoothly. The light that shone through was almost blinding and Xander gasped as a wall of warmth enveloped his body like an electric blanket. As always, he was tempted to fling himself headlong through the doorway, but he knew he’d only bounce back like a vampire without an invitation. This Door wasn’t for him.

Spike hesitated at the threshold. He was silhouetted by the light, the golden rays radiating over his head like the halo in a painting of an angel. “Oh,” he whispered so softly Xander barely heard him.

“Good luck, Spike.”

Spike lifted one foot over the threshold and set it down just inside the door. Then his body was glowing too, and it hurt Xander’s eye but he couldn’t turn away. He waited for Spike to go in, for the Door to close and disappear, leaving Xander alone on an imitation of Euston Road, waiting for Rona to drag him back to the motel room.

But Spike twisted his body around instead. He had always been handsome, sexy, but now he was so beautiful that Xander wanted to cry. Xander was crying. He reached up to wipe the tears away.

And Spike grabbed his hand. Tight.

“You look cold,” he said with a smile. “Come inside. ’T’s lovely and warm.” And he tugged hard at Xander’s arm.

Xander wanted to protest that he couldn’t, that he wasn’t allowed, that it wouldn’t work. That Spike might be ejected just for trying. But before the words were formed, Spike pulled again.

And Xander was Inside.



The End