The night heavy around him, he swallowed and licked dry lips. Behind closed eyes he listened to the sounds of the night, these too changed by the oppressive heat. From his elevated position beside the old church, he could hear the constant low drone of the highway traffic in the distance. He could hear the cricket’s singing to him, at a seemingly lower pitch than usual, their playing less frenzied. Perhaps, he reasoned, they were feeling sluggish in the heat too. All the familiar sounds of the Sunnydale night laid out before him and around him now sounding muted and hazy.
Standing there, blind to the night, he felt the unsatisfactory cool on his back and a bead of sweat run slowly down his chest. It was a pleasant feeling standing there, completely alone. He felt like he was all at once everywhere and only within himself. This was his night, alone with the heat and sweat he could hear all things around him, and for just a moment he felt free.
The peaceful moment passed abruptly when the one thing he hadn’t heard in his omnipotent unity with the world arrived, and spoke to him.
‘Well, well, what’s this then? Out for a little midnight streak are we?’
Embarrassed that someone had found him in this position, Xander’s eyes snapped open and confirmed what his ears were telling him. Not six feet away, uncanny ability to show up at the worst possible moment intact, stood Spike.
The vampire had one eyebrow arched and was watching Xander complete with trademark sardonic expression. Xander had never met anyone, living or dead, who could be so completely patronising without having to say a word. Unfortunately, Spike didn’t stop at just a condescending look. He also liked to talk, and Xander had been insulted more times than he cared to remember by the now annoyingly familiar deep British voice.
Goddamn vampires. Sneaking around on their silent creature of the night tippy-toes. They should all be forced to wear bells.
It was safe to say that on the whole, Xander was not overjoyed to see him. Or to see him wearing leather in this heat. Leather and layers of cotton and denim. It was official; vampires had it good.
Xander glared at him. Sometimes he really envied the undead.