Who Wants to Live Forever


by
Metaforgirl



Part Seventeen

Rupert Giles was beside himself. Not that anyone would notice. He did what he usually would have done, given a house full of uninvited Council members and their military personnel. He was a gracious host. He saw to their bags. He offered refreshments. He pointed out the men’s room and the phone and asked them to smoke outside. He stood silently in the doorway of Spike’s room while they dumped the mattress on the floor, tore through the dresser and hurled clothing about, in what would appear to be the standard military-ransacking-of-suspect’s house.

Quentin, who believed he knew Rupert Giles better than most, watched the man carefully as they occupied the house. The former owner, that bizarre anomaly created by the monks, had apparently left and the current owner, Willow Rosenberg, was not present. Quentin was not sure which troubled him more, the witch’s absence or Giles’ acquiescence.

Maurice, and Quentin agreed with Giles that there was definitely something not right with the man, was dogging him as they moved about the house. He had been pathetically overjoyed to see the Council member, as if he expected Quentin to be the bringer of miracles. He insisted on retelling his horrific story. Tall, black-eyed demons and vampiric witches stalking this house and leaving Giles, apparently, untouched. That Giles had not yet become undead seemed very suspicious to Maurice. He watched the older Watcher, and nervously questioned Quentin about it again.

“I can assure you, Maurice,” Quentin hated repeating himself, “Rupert Giles is not a vampire. He is not in thrall to a vampire. And while I myself have, on occasion, had reason to question Rupert Giles’ choices in personal associations, I am quite certain that he would never aid and abet a vampire in killing and siring the population of Sunnydale.”

“Of course. Of course.” Maurice eyed Giles, who stood across the room calmly answering a military man’s questions. “But one wonders, still.”

“And Maurice, he insists that Mistress Rosenberg is not dead.”

“I SAW her.”

“Perhaps. It seems you’ve seen quite a bit.”

“What do you mean?” asked Maurice, becoming agitated.

Quentin sighed. “Nothing. I only think it’s time you sat down with Colonel Finn and told him your story.” He ushered the man to Riley’s temporary desk at the kitchen table, and left him there with a great sigh of relief. As he reentered the hallway, he encountered Giles, gently replacing the telephone receiver. Quentin stopped. “I didn’t hear the phone ring.”

“You wouldn’t have. I placed a call.” Giles regarded him calmly.

“I see.”

“This was all quite surprising. I have had to make some arrangements,” explained Giles smoothly.

“Of course,” said Quentin. “Of course, we appreciate your assistance.”

“Really, there was no choice,” said Giles, “with Willow off on retreat.”

“Such a shame, that,” commented Quentin. “I was so hoping to speak with her again.”

“I am sure she will be sorry to have missed you.”

The two men regarded each other. Quentin blinked. Giles blinked. “Well,” said Giles resignedly, “I believe we need more towels. I will speak with you later, Quentin.” He turned and walked up the stairs. Quentin watched him go. He thought to himself of all the denizens of the planet that Rupert Giles had met in his long career. The quick and the dead. Of all those, who would the man have called just now?


~*~*~*~*~


Clem slipped his tiny cell phone into a flap of skin in his arm. He carefully pushed the mop back into the bucket and slid the contraption back into the janitors’ closet. “Hey, Harry!” he called down the echoing, dark school hallway. A fur covered nine-foot tall Heffilig demon stooped to avoid the light fixture and waved at him from the end of the hall. “Clem, what’s up, man?” he called cheerfully.

“Gotta emergency errand. Can you finish up for me?”

“Sure thing.”

“Owe you, man,” said Clem, slipping on the long trench coat. He patted the multitude of rattling pockets, looking for his keys.

“Nah.” The furry demon waved his hand. “Just put in a good word for me with your sister, man.”

Clem was on his way out the door, so Harry didn’t see the grimace and shudder his words evoked. “Yeah, got you covered, buddy!” Clem called out behind him, a look of horror on his face.

By the time he had reached the parking lot, he had his phone out and was speed dialing the third on the phone’s memory list. “Spike, dammit. Pick up your phone.” He worked the keys in the lock of his tiny Vespa, hopped in and headed off with a squeal of well-worn tires. If the vampire had turned off his phone, Clem had a good idea where he might be.

But first he had to do an errand for Giles.


~*~*~*~*~


Xander and Spike were running through the cemetery, arguing at the top of their lungs. Spike had insisted that they go straight to his ‘hide-out’ mausoleum. Xander thought the vampire had some childish fixation with the place, believing it could make him invisible, like a little kid hiding under the bed from fire. He was absolutely certain that they should be in a vehicle, any fast moving transport, leaving Sunnydale as quickly as possible.

“’Cuz I saw the guy take out a mausoleum full of vamps once, Spike.” Xander had to inhale wheezily to keep up with Spike and yell at him at the same time. “It’s seriously scary. He’s like superfreak. ‘Kay?”

“Trust me, Xan. This is the place we wanna be.”

“Don’t wanna wake up being blown up, Spike.”

Spike stopped running. Xander had to back pedal hard to avoid running into him. He slid on the damp grass and Spike caught his arm. The vampire pulled him up straight, then pulled him close. Then pushed him away. “You gotta go back, Xander.”

“What?”

“I mean it. You’re right. Those buggers are insane. They won’t care that you’re a human. I saw things in that compound.” Spike paused and blinked, shuddered. “They do things, these guys. It’s not safe.” He glared at Xander, jaw set. “Go back Xander.”

“No way,” said Xander firmly.

Spike folded his arms and planted his feet apart on the ground. He glared at Xander, immobile. “Okay, I’ll just stand here and wait for ‘em.”

“Fuck, Spike!”

“Go home, Xander.”

“Alright alright, Spike, we’ll go to your secret crypt-o-fun. No more complaints. But come on,” Xander looked around nervously, “I don’t wanna stand out here in the open.”

“Go home, Xander.”

“No.” Xander folded his arms and mirrored Spike’s stance exactly. They glared at each other. After a minute, though, Xander’s agitation got the better of him. “Spike, we gotta move. We gotta get you safe.”

“I’m not moving until you agree to go home, Xander.”

“Spike, this is stupid; I’m not going anywhere without you.” Xander started picking his way up the hillside. He thought he might be going in the right direction. Spike came up behind him, his voice was furious.

“Xander, I’m not gonna let you do this.”

“Let me!” Xander rounded on Spike. “What the hell is this noble shit, now? Is this how you get rid of me? You gonna dump me for my own good?”

Spike was nonplussed. “Xander.”

“No, Spike, your leaving me would not be for my own good. It would fucking be the worst thing you could possibly do to me! I am not leaving, Spike. You are not leaving me, Spike. We are together now. If it’s hard, well, then it’s hard, but you don’t just walk away from me because it’s hard! I am not going to lose you now. D’ya hear me? I have been through too much fucking shit and I refuse to let that happen! Do you understand?”

Spike blinked. “Okay,” he said.

Xander took a deep, shuddering breath. “Okay.” He walked back down the hill a bit and threw his arm around his mate. “C’mon, let’s find your cold, smelly, secret crypt.”

“’S not smelly.”

“Hate to break it to you now, pal, but those stick-up deodorizers really don’t work on rotting flesh.”

“That weren’t rotting flesh. Clem kept his sneakers at my place.”

“And Clem’s sneakers smelled like rotting flesh because?”

“Oi, you ever seen his feet, Xan? He’s got like these green parasites on his toenails, and some kinda peeling tree bark callus on his feet, and …”

“TMI. TMI,” said Xander, his hands over his ears. He stopped. Stared up the hillside. In his mind’s eye lightning flashed and a joyous immortal spread his arms against the night sky. “Spike? Is this it?”


~*~*~*~*~


Spike hadn’t really thought about it. Which was odd because this location had figured prominently in his regrets and fantasies alike for five years. But when he had to think of someplace to hide from the Watchers and the soldiers, the only place that had made sense to him was this mausoleum. Now standing there with Xander, though, the past came up like a wall of water before him. He was almost afraid to step through it. But Xander pre-empted his moment of angst.

“C’mon, Spike,” he hissed, and pulled him inside.

It was utterly pitch black. Xander couldn’t remember it having been so dark, but there had been lightning he remembered. And a lot of Irish whiskey. Spike was bumping around out of his limited sight range. Xander heard the strike of a match, and candlelight slid and skittered across ceilings and walls. Spike placed the candle carefully on some platform he seemed to have there for that purpose and lit another. The light was fairly bright on that side of the enclosure now, and Xander gaped in wonder.

“Spike, it’s beautiful!”

Spike looked up smiling at the trompe l’oeil ceilings and walls. The heavenly motif of angels, seraphs, cherubs and clouds had been artfully crafted to integrate the statuary hanging from walls and standing near the one large tomb. They were in heaven, surrounded by angels. “Yeah,” said Spike happily, “I like it here.”

Xander regarded his vampire in wonder. Spike settled the second candle into its holder and motioned Xander over to peer through an odd square grate. It had a reflective surface inside. A kind of periscope he guessed. Through it he could see outside. The entire hill they had just come up. He rose and looked at Spike with eyebrow raised. Why would the dead need a peephole? Spike grinned and shrugged and motioned Xander to follow him to the back of the small room. There was a small trap door, much like the one he had had in his own crypt. Raising it, he shushed Xander with a hand to his lip and listening, Xander clearly heard the sound of water. Spike stood. “It lets out in a cliff over the lake,” he explained. “There’s a way down from there.”

“An escape hatch.”

“Yeah.” Spike looked serious. “Anything happens you gotta promise to use it, Xan.”

“What is this place, Spike?” asked Xander, ignoring the other potential argument.

“Monks who made Dawn,” said Spike, looking over the ceiling in admiration. “They built it.”

“D’ya think it’s got magic in it?”

“Hope so, mate,” said Spike slowly. “I think we’re gonna need it.”

Xander shivered and Spike glanced at him worriedly. “S’not very warm here,” he said anxiously. “Wish you’d worn more clothes.”

“Not what you were saying in the alley,” said Xander seductively.

Spike smiled, looking down. “Love you, Xan,” he whispered to his boots. Xander stepped close and wrapped his arms around him. He buried his face in the top of Spike’s head and kissed his crown.

“It’s nice here,” said Xander. “Can see why you like it.” He rocked Spike back and forth in his arms and looked uncomfortably at the tomb. “So who’s buried here?”

“That’s what’s so great,” said Spike, pulling away excitedly. He grabbed the top of the tomb and slid it sideways easily, hopped inside the empty sarcophagus. “Nobody,” he announced. “’S where I keep my stash.”

Xander peered into the dark box and nodded in appreciation. “Wow, Spike. Lotta stuff.”

“Yeah.” Spike jumped out again and maneuvered a box for Xander to step on. “C’mon, look at all the stuff I’ve got in here.”

Xander grinned and good-naturedly sat on the edge of the tomb, swinging his legs over. Spike was eagerly rifling through stacks of objects, holding them up for Xander’s approval and setting them down again. Xander looked about on the floor near his feet. “Whoa!” He leaned over and picked up a large tube of lubricant. Spike whirled and snatched it out of his hand. “Entertain much here, Spike?” laughed Xander. The look Spike gave him stopped his jibe. He looked down and poked at things a bit more with his foot.

“Peanut butter!” Spike announced, thrusting a jar in his face.

“Yes!” exclaimed Xander, snatching it out of Spike’s hand. He checked the label. “Super Chunk! The best!” Spike rose and proffered a spoon. Xander shook his head. “Spike, you are like Mary Poppins.”

“I’m no Mary,” growled the vampire and turned away again. “I’ve got water and some dehydrated fruit…” he muttered, scrounging through things.

Xander saw a notebook on the floor near his feet. He set the peanut butter on the lip of the tomb and picked up the small ringed book. Opened it to the first page.

Dear Xander,
I miss you so much….

Xander dropped the notebook to the floor as if it were toxic waste. Spike spun around, victoriously producing a bottle of B&B brandy. He quickly hopped out of the tomb and sat down near a wall. “C’mon, Xan,” he said, “this’ll warm you up.”

Xander nodded absently and leaned over to pick up something that looked familiar. It was a small silver flask, heavily engraved. He weighed it in his hand for a few moments, then leant over and picked up the notebook again. “Spike,” he said, his throat tight, “how often do you come here?”

Spike shrugged and slugged back a drink. “Used ta come all the time. Then,” he stopped and Xander saw the shadow cross his face. Saw the happy light in the vampire’s face just shut off, just like that. “then I just got tired of it, I guess.”

Xander climbed out of the tomb. He placed his two finds down next to Spike. Spike looked at the objects and didn’t look up when Xander sat down next to him. “You’ve got peanut butter here, Spike,” said Xander slowly. “You don’t eat peanut butter. You’ve got candles.” He sighed. “You don’t need light to see.”

Spike picked up the silver flask and studied it, shook it a little. Something still sloshed in it. “Thought I threw that away,” he muttered.

“I never got a letter from you,” said Xander. “But you wrote to me. Didn’t you?”

Spike picked up the notebook. He opened it and riffled through the pages slowly. “Thought I might, but then thought better of it,” said Spike, his throat tightening. “Listen Xander.” He set the book down. “It doesn’t matter, now. You’re here is all that matters.”

“I’m sorry, Spike.”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Spike desperately, looking away.

“Do you want to know what I did, when I first left?”

Spike didn’t answer, but his turned back was listening.

“I yelled at you in an empty apartment,” said Xander clearly. “I drank and raged and yelled at you and explained it all to you.” He touched Spike’s arm. “I got drunk and wrote letters to you,” he said softly. “When I came to I burned them.”

“Why’d you do that?” Spike asked in a small voice, still looking away.

“Didn’t like what they said.”

Spike turned to look at him. Xander felt the pain like a chemical in his blood. He took a deep breath and let himself feel it. He needed to feel this, he realized. He needed to feel the pain Spike had locked up in this room.

“Why do you have things here for me, Spike?”

Spike shrugged and offered the brandy to Xander. Xander took it, knocked back a long swallow and shuddered a bit as the hot liquor slid into his chilled body. Spike was looking into the space in front of him as at some distant memory. “Used ta come here before,” he began slowly, “before you left,” he explained, his throat closing on the last word. “Thought I’d surprise you. It’s a cool place.” He leaned back against the wall, staring off into a dark corner for a few minutes. Xander silently watched him.

Spike remembered the last night he had been here. About two months after Xander’s departure. He couldn’t even remember what had precipitated it, but he had suddenly known quite certainly that Xander was not coming back. Spike had returned to the mausoleum as to the scene of an accident. Sat here in the tomb and written a diatribe of self-hatred, begging, and anger. Drunk himself into a stupor. Thrown everything into the sarcophagus, and left. He sighed. Closed his eyes. “And for a little while I thought you might come back,” he said finally. He paused for a beat. “Then I knew you wouldn’t.”

Xander saw a cinema of remembered pain flickering over the vampire’s face. He looked away and leaned against the wall next to Spike, their shoulders just touching. “Wanna know what my letters said?” he asked lightly, passing the bottle back to Spike.

Spike took the brandy, his hand brushing Xander’s shaking one. “Sure,” he said hoarsely.

Xander closed his eyes and recited. “Dear Spike. You fucking bastard. I miss you so much.” Xander stopped. He took a deep breath. “Spike, ya know all those guys…”

“Don’t care, Xander.”

“It’s important, Spike. I want you to know. I need to tell you.”

Spike sat up and put his arm carefully around Xander’s shoulders. The other man leaned into him gratefully and Spike turned to brush his lips softly across Xander’s hair. “’Kay,” he whispered, “go ahead.”

Xander rolled his head against Spike’s touch. “Things were pretty good nine to five,” he said. “Decent job, found a nice apartment, met some girls.” He closed his eyes and turned his face towards Spike’s shoulder. “But I’d get antsy. Need to get out. Ya know how I get.”

Spike nuzzled the silky head. “Yeah, Xan.”

“So I’m out and I’m prowling and I’d start, I dunno, just looking for you. Like ‘where’s Spike’? Like I expected you to just show up.” Spike was silent. Xander shifted and slid his arms carefully around Spike. He pushed his face into the vampire’s shoulder and thought for a minute. “And I’m drinking a lot, and it’s not like I’m thinking you’re missing as in ‘I miss Spike’, but more like you’re late or something like ‘where the fuck is that stupid bastard, and why won’t he wear a watch?’ ‘Cuz somehow, I know you’re just supposed to be there.” Xander was silent some more. Piecing the memories carefully together in his mind. “And then.” He paused, began again more quietly, “and then some poor guy shows up and he kinda looks like you, and I just lose it.” Xander pushed his face into Spike and the vampire wrapped his other arm around Xander and just held him for a minute. Xander took a deep breath. “I’d get so fucking drunk I couldn’t think about anything, and the guy wouldn’t have a chance. I’d just pursue him whatever he said. Pull out all the stops, so fucking aggressive.” Xander’s voice was whining. “He didn’t have a chance.” He held onto Spike and breathed.

Spike held his shuddering human and thought about what Xander was saying. “So it was because of me…” he began slowly.

“No.” Xander sat up suddenly and looked at Spike. His eyes were black. “No, you didn’t do this to me. I did this to me. And to them,” he added sadly. “You see it wasn’t real.” He laughed, a grim little humorless sound. “I couldn’t let it be real. So no protection, wouldn’t let myself think about it even. Couldn’t carry rubbers around, that would be admitting to something. Had to pretend it was all make believe.” He looked up at Spike, his face miserable. “Those poor bastards,” he said. “How many do you think I’ve killed, Spike?”

Spike stared into the guilt and understood. “Can’t do a body count, Xan. Won’t make anything better. Just twist you up inside and make you crazy.”

“Isn’t that what I deserve?”

“Yeah, maybe,” said the most honest vampire on the planet, “but if every creature got what it deserved, we’d all be just a bunch of sad sorry fucks wanderin’ around flagellatin’ ourselves.” He straightened Xander’s jacket a bit and slid his hands inside, to hug the human’s warmth to him. “Question is, what the hell you gonna do about it, ain’t it? It’s easy to sit around whinin’ about what an asshole you’ve been.” He snorted, “Lookit Angel.” Spike rubbed at the skin below Xander’s ear with his nose, “sooner or later you go nuts.” He put his mouth to the skin and murmured. “Yer better than that, Xan. Yer stronger.”

Xander shivered into the cool touches on his neck, and began rubbing his hands up and down Spike’s back. “So what do I do?” he asked.

Spike’s hands slid down Xander’s torso and began slipping slowly up and down. “You fix what you can fix.” He teased Xander’s earlobe with his blunt teeth. “You do what you can do.”

Xander felt himself relaxing slowly. He leant into the vampire and found his ear with his lips, began blowing little puffs of air around the hair curling behind it. “Spike,” whispered Xander, “touch me, yeah, like that, oh oh yeah, do that, Spike.” Spike growled playfully and Xander shivered. He leaned back and pushed at Spike’s duster.

“Take this off and put it on the floor,” he demanded roughly. Spike looked into Xander’s face and saw the need there. He obediently shrugged out of his duster and lay it on the floor. Xander regarded it for a moment.

“No. Not there,” he said, looking around the room. “I think it was over there.” He pointed.

Spike looked at him. He picked up the coat, stood and walked over to drape it on the floor where Xander indicated. He was surprised to see his hand shaking. Xander nodded, stood up and began methodically unbuttoning his shirt and toeing off his shoes. Spike stood awkwardly watching.

“Hey Xan, watchya doin’?”

“I don’t know about the candles, Spike. It was darker. But I like them. Do you think we have to blow them out?”

Xander pulled his t-shirt over his head and began to work on his fly. Spike reached forward and stopped his hands gently. “Hey Xan,” he said, “can I come to yer crazy place?”

Xander looked up at Spike. “Aren’t you going to take off your shirt?”

Spike regarded him for a moment. “Okay.” He released Xander’s hands. He stripped off his shirt, and pulled his t-shirt over his head. When he emerged, a fully naked Xander was arranging himself carefully on the duster. He lay on his belly with his arms curled by his side and his face pressed into the leather. He wriggled his ass and turned his head to blink up at Spike.

“C’mon, Spike, where’s the oil Willow gave you?”

Spike groaned and started to pant. “Xander,” he said weakly, “I don’t think I wanna play this game, mate.”

“Please Spike, please,” moaned Xander, rolling his face against the duster. He thrust his hips into the leather and writhed. Spike raised his hands to his fly and began undoing the buttons.

“Rather use that lube I stashed, Xan,” he admitted shakily. He shook his head to clear it. This was all so weird. He had relived this experience so many times. Rewritten, changed the script, so many times. And hoped he would have a chance to make it right.

“Get it then, Spike. Please. Hurry,” Xander demanded.

Spike came back from the storage tomb and fell on his knees behind Xander. The man wriggled before him, rhythmically rocking his hips into the ground. Spike fumbled with the top of the lube desperately, clumsily, finally got some out onto his fingers, and spread it with trembling hands down Xander’s crack and over his entrance. Xander responded immediately. He pushed back against the sensation and groaned and begged. “Yes, Spike. Do it, do it.”

Spike whimpered. He could barely pull down his own pants. He messily lubed his cock and then shuffled forward awkwardly.

Xander lay under him moaning and begging. “Ask me what I want, Spike. Ask me, ask me.”

Spike choked as he said the words. “Tell me what you want, Xan?” he said in a helpless voice.

“Fuck me, Spike,” snarled Xander. “Fuck me.”

Feeling that he was going insane, Spike lined his cock up with Xander’s entrance and pressed inside.

Xander pushed back onto him with a harsh cry and Spike went crazy. He fell onto Xander, pumping and snarling, pistoning his hips violently in and out of the hot channel. Below him Xander mewled and growled and cursed and begged. He thrust up at Spike as hard as the vampire, and the sound of their flesh slapping together was louder than Xander’s grunts and cries. Spike howled softly and saw the claws emerging slowly from the hands clutching Xander’s shoulders. He rolled his ridged face back and forth on Xander’s back and pumped harder and harder into Xander’s ass. He smelled the tears before he felt them as they trickled down his game face.

Xander pushed up against Spike and back down into Spike’s jacket. He couldn’t move fast enough, couldn’t get Spike deep enough. “Spike, “ he moaned. “Harder. I need it harder.”

“God.” Spike’s voice was desperate. “God, Xander, drivin’ me crazy here. God, Oh God,” And then he heard it.

“Love you, Spike.” Xander was chanting into the coat. “Love you love you love you.” He screamed and ground his hips suddenly violently against the floor, “God, Spike, I love you!”

Spike felt the strong body writhing under his suddenly go rigid. The slick hot channel around his penis spasmed hard. He screamed and thrust into that heat as his orgasm descended, and Spike felt everything inside of him shooting into Xander.

Xander was sobbing, slamming his pelvis against the floor, his hands grasping Spike’s hard and digging into the ridged flesh with his nails. He shuddered all over and yelled, “Love you, Spike. I love you, Spike. Love you. Love you…” Xander continued, shaking with post orgasmic tremors, sobbing into the jacket. “God, Spike, tell me… God please, Spike. Please tell me.”

“I love you, Xander,” Spike rasped out hoarsely. He felt tears running into his mouth. As he watched, they dripped from his chin to Xander’s back. He leant down and kissed the tears, lapped them up softly. Underneath him Xander sobbed and shivered. Spike spread himself over Xander’s naked back. He ran his hand down a muscled arm and noted little goosebumps raising up on the skin. He pulled back and stroked the silky hair.

“Xander,” he whispered to the now silent man beneath him, “Xander, luv, get up and get some clothes on. Yer gonna get a chill.” He sat back on his heels so that Xander could rise. Pulled earnestly at the man’s arm, noting with concern that the flesh felt cool even to him.

Xander rolled over and sat up. He didn’t look at Spike. His face was wet and swollen and he rubbed with his bare arm at his nose. Spike shuffled closer and wrapped an arm around the broad back. Xander leaned into him and closed his eyes. “Sorry,” he said from a craggy throat.

Spike was taken aback. “Sorry for what?”

“Went crazy there for a minute.” Xander snorted once, an ironic laugh. “Thought I could fix it somehow.” His voice trailed off.

Spike sat very still and tried to stay calm. “Oh,” he said, “just kinda lost control, huh.”

“Yeah, man. Outta my mind.”

“Right.” Spike felt his heart not just breaking. He felt it exploding. “Don’t worry about it, Xan. It never happened.”

Xander registered the shaking in the body next to him. He looked up into Spike’s face and was shocked to see the open heartache in his eyes. “What?” He stared and then comprehension dawned. “No no. Spike! Not that. I just meant the other stuff, the…” He waved his hand to vaguely describe his apparent love of violent sex. Saw Spike still uncomprehending. “I meant what I said, Spike,” Xander said finally. “That’s not what I’m sorry for.” He took pity on the confused and pained face before him. He gently grasped Spike’s chin and placed a firm kiss on lips still damp with tears. “I love you,” he said briefly.

Spike blinked in wonderment. Xander smiled and kissed the lips again. “Nimrod,” he said affectionately, “course I do.” He shivered again violently. “Christ it’s cold in here, Spike.”

Spike leapt up and went for Xander’s clothing. As he lifted the jacket, the beeper went off. He looked at Xander inquisitively. The man took the article of clothing and patted the pockets, pulled out a small pill box. Shook it. Heard the sad clatter of the few remaining pills. He paused, shrugged and set it carefully down. Began dressing. “Never been able to swallow those dry,” he said to Spike, “ya got any water here?”

“Is that the medicine Willow talked about?”

“Yeah,” said Xander, standing and zipping his jeans. “Need to take it every four hours. Always forgetting. That’s why the beeper.”

Spike placed a canteen in his hands. Xander tipped it sideways and smiled at the boy scout logo. He dumped two pills into his hand and tossed them back with the water.

“You’ve only got two left.”

“Yeah?” said Xander casually.

“What happens if you don’t take them, Xander?” Spike sounded seriously worried. Xander gave him a quick nonchalant grin.

“Nothin’ happens, Spike. I don’t have diabetes or anything.”

“But you need to take them.”

“’S a good idea, yeah.”

“Will you get sicker if you don’t take them?”

Xander thought for a moment. He looked at Spike seriously. “We’ll figure this thing out, Spike,” he said calmly, “then I’ll get my prescription refilled. Don’t worry.”

But Spike was off in worry mode. He paced back and forth biting his nails and muttering to himself. “Need blankets, and warm clothes and the medicine.” He looked at Xander darkly. “When was the last time you ate?”

“I’m good, Spike. Really.”

“Xander, I gotta go back and get some things.”

“Go back?” Xander was stunned. “Nuh uh. No way, Spike.”

“Xander, I’m not set up for you here. Not really. Just for a few hours maybe. But nothing for long term.”

“I’ll make do, Spike,” Xander insisted.

“No,” said Spike distinctly, “you can’t.”

“Spike, you can’t go back.” They stood at the impasse and thought. Spike snapped a finger and patted his pockets. He produced a cell phone and switched it on. The red message light was lit and Xander watched as Spike expertly punched the codes with his thumb. The vampire listened for a few minutes; he flashed a strange look at Xander and then looked away. Punched more numbers into the phone and waited.

“Yeah, it’s me,” he said into the receiver. He looked down while whomever he had called went on a bit. “Yer right, of course.” He sighed. He listened some more. He glanced up at Xander again who was rapidly losing his mind from curiosity. He gestured wildly at Spike, who raised an eyebrow at his antics and turned away to better hear. “Yeah,” said the vampire in a low voice. “That fucker.” He shook his head violently as if the person on the other end could see his vehemence. “No no no. I will meet you there, Clem. You will not come here. Yeah. Coupla hours.” He flipped the receiver closed without a salutation and looked at Xander. “We gotta care package to pick up,” he said with a slightly relieved grin. “And a message for you from Rupert.”

“Giles?” Xander felt his head spin. “How did he know…?”

“Shit’s happenin’, Xan. I think Rupert’s pickin’ his team.”




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