Credence Chapter 6
A half-hour into his wait Tod's boys came back with dinner.† It wasn't late - going on midnight, maybe - and they'd snagged two little girls, out at a club somewhere.† Spike could hear them giggling all the way down in the elevator - could just faintly smell smoke and sweat and perfume.
††††††††††††††† *Think they've found some rich bachelor and his mate.† Christ, who knows what they think.† Stupid bints*†† Spike wasn't in the mood for practicing his patience and the waiting was getting on his nerves.† When the door started to grind open he forced himself to stop and stand easily, waiting.† Xander, who'd managed to get to his feet, turned from the bookshelf he'd been studying with a wary, trapped look that went to puzzled and then horrified as the girls tripped through the door, Tod's boys right behind.
††††††††††††††† "Oh fuck, no - don't -"†† Xander surged forward and Tod grabbed the cuffs and yanked him back - hooked an arm around his throat and held him still, half-strangling him into silence.†† Xander fought, trying to kick Tod or writhe free of his arm but he didn't stand a chance.††† Spike grinned at the boy and then turned his attention back to the girls; slim red-headed girl, slimmer blonde, both in something sparkly and minimal despite the chilly drizzle outside††††††††
††††††††††††††† "Hey, what's the deal?† This was supposed to be a party," the redhead whined, and Spike advanced on her, letting the demon rise.†
††††††††††††††† "But it is a party, luv.† And you're the hors d'oeuvres."† She opened her mouth to scream and Spike was on her and in her and drinking her down before she got a sound out.† The blonde shrieked and tried to bolt but cop-vamp had her by the throat, holding her tight to his body and whispering something in her ear and Spike watched her go white as he took the last welling of the redhead's blood into his mouth.† He licked her throat once, savoring, and then let her drop.† The blood surged through him and for the first time in months he could feel it actually healing him - strengthening him and bringing him that much closer to what he had been, before Sunnydale and the fucking soldiers.
††††††††††††††† "Oh, she was sweet," Spike murmured, and blonde-vamp flashed a quick grin of triumph as he moved past Spike to gather the corpse up.† The blonde girl was shaking her head, shivering like a beaten dog and Spike reached out and caressed her face - pulled her close as cop-vamp let her go.††††††
††††††††††††††† "I bet you'll be even sweeter," he said, tangling his fingers in her hair and pulling her head to the side.† Her hands pummeled at him - clawed at him - but she was hyperventilating and he felt her skin go suddenly cold and damp as her eyes rolled up and she fainted.† Shrugging, Spike bit and drank and let her fall away, feeling that surge of life and magic as the blood revitalized him and his demon almost purred in contentment.† Cop-vamp hoisted the blonde up and Spike nodded at the two of them, well pleased.
††††††††††††††† "I don't need you anymore tonight.† You're free to go if Tod says," he told them, and Tod nodded as well.
††††††††††††††† "Get rid of them and go do what you want.† You did good tonight."† The two grinned, flashing fangs, and went out as jauntily as two corpses would allow.† Tod let Xander go with a shove and the boy stumbled and almost went down but steadied himself against the couch-back, coughing.† He was glaring - shaking -and Spike went to circle around him, getting up close beside him and putting his face right down into the tumbled dark hair - into the warm and fragrant crook of his neck.† Xander tried to move away and Spike took the chain of the handcuffs between his fingers and held him there.†
††††††††††††††† "They didn't smell half as good as you do.† And didn't taste anything like."† Spike felt a violent shudder go through the boy - felt him crowding himself closer to the couch in an instinctive move to get away.† Spike just stood there, the heated length of arm and rib and hip and thigh pressed into him, and the delicious fear-rage-fight scent like a fog.†
††††††††††††††† *Fight me - might be fun, to let that out...* ††"Gonna fight me, rabbit?" Spike murmured, and Xander took in a sharp gasp of air - turned his head slowly until he was looking at Spike.
††††††††††††††† *There it is, that darkness...hyena, he said...*
††††††††††††††† "Take these off and I'll fuckin' try, you bastard," Xander grated out through gritted teeth, and Spike grinned at him, knowing he'd reverted to his human face and that the blood on his mouth looked all the more horrific for it.
††††††††††††††† "Don't have the key, pretty.† Guess you'll have to wait."†
††††††††††††††† "Fuck. You."† Xander's eyes were odd - sparking green in the lamp light - and Spike slid one hand up and tangled it in his hair, holding him still so he could lean forward and trail light, nipping kisses up the boy's jaw.
††††††††††††††† "You'll have to wait on the fucking, too.† You need a bath."† Xander recoiled from him, nearly growling, his shoulders working as he tried, one more time, to free himself from the handcuffs.† There was a soft sound from the couch - a moaning sigh - and Xander's head whipped around, his gaze going from feral to anxious in seconds flat.† All the hyena, if that's what it was, sinking down under the surface and leaving not a ripple behind.† They both looked down at the werewolf, who had stirred and turned.† His face had two hectic spots of red high on his cheekbones, and his hair was dampening with sweat, sticking to his forehead.
††††††††††††††† "Damnit," Xander muttered, and Spike let him go and vaulted easily over the back of the couch, landing on bare feet beside the wolf.† He crouched down and put his hand on Oz's forehead, palming the hair back.† His skin felt tight and hot - hotter than Xander's had - and was slick with sweat.
††††††††††††††† "Does he have a fever?" Xander asked, coming around the couch end and crouching down as well.
††††††††††††††† "I don't know - it's hard for me to tell.† He feels hotter than you."
††††††††††††††† "Fuck.† When's this - this doctor or whatever getting here?"† Spike stroked the matted hair back again and Oz twisted uncomfortably, making a small sound of distress.
††††††††††††††† "He'll be here in a bit."† Spike looked over at Xander - at the worry that drew his brows together and the nervousness that made him bite his split lip and wince.† "What do you usually do, when he's sick?"
††††††††††††††† "I get him to drink - whatever we've got.† Juice usually, or Gatorade, stuff like that.† Get some aspirin down him.† It works okay.† That's about it.† If - when he gets a fever, it doesn't last too long - twenty-four hours, maybe.† Used to be less, but he doesn't fight it off so fast now."† Xander made a frustrated noise and leaned his head down on the couch, his shoulders hunching.
††††††††††††††† "Can't you get these damn things off?† My arms hurt."† He looked up finally, eye to eye with Spike, and Spike saw it - the ache from his arms being strained back, the worry over his friend, the fear.† Exhaustion and anger and frustration.
††††††††††††††† "Promise you'll be good, rabbit."† Something at that - a brief tightening at the corners of his eyes, a twitch in his jaw.† And then Xander looked down at Oz and sighed - nodded once.
††††††††††††††† †"Yeah.†† I won't try - anything.† I just want to take care of Oz."† Spike waited, but that was all, and he stood up after a moment and went over to his desk - pulled out a roll of soft black suede.† Lock picks that he'd had for years.† Tod was just standing there watching him, and he snarled at him, annoyed.† Tod ducked his head and went over to the kitchen, settling on a stool by the counter.†† Spike returned to the couch and righted the coffee table, then unrolled the picks - looked them over and chose one.
††††††††††††††† "Turn around then, rabbit," he said, and Xander did, up on his knees.† His wrists were bruised - one has dried blood on it, making a dark patch on the sleeve of his hoodie.† His fingers looked a little swollen.† Spike bent to the cuffs, probing delicately, and after a minute or so the right-hand cuff clicked open.† Xander let his arm swing forward with a groan of mingled pain and pleasure and turned half around, letting Spike work on the other cuff.† It was off even faster, and Spike tossed the cuffs onto the coffee table - put the pick carefully away and re-rolled the suede, tying it off neatly.† Xander had slumped down, one leg tucked under him and one sprawled out to the side, gingerly rubbing his wrists and arms.
††††††††††††††† "Fuck," he whispered, flexing his hands and wincing.† Spike got up and put the picks away - got a piece of paper and pen from a drawer and took them over.
††††††††††††††† "Make a list of stuff - stuff he'll need.† To drink and eat, whatever you need, right?"† Xander looked up at him and nodded tiredly - shook his right hand out a little and picked up the pen.† He started writing and Spike jerked his head in Tod's direction, calling him over.† The other vampire came reluctantly.
††††††††††††††† "You need to take this list and go get whatever's on it."† Tod looked down at Xander - made a sort of chewing gesture with his mouth, as if he were biting the inside of his lip.
††††††††††††††† †"Look, Spike - I came over here to do Viv a favor.† I don't -"†† Spike's hand was on his throat, digging in hard and he choked - clawed at Spike's wrist.† The demon hissed, getting in close, and Tod's rose as well, baring fangs.
††††††††††††††† "Don't make me put you on your knees in front of the human, Tod.† I will, if you bloody well make me."† Tod's eyes were wide, and he struggled for another moment, then went limp.
††††††††††††††† "Good fuckin' move, mate.† Just do it, Tod.† Make me happy, I'll make Viv happy, and she'll make you happy, right?"† Spike shook him, just a little, and Tod nodded as best he could.
††††††††††††††† "Right," he croaked, and Spike let him go.† He stood there sullenly rubbing his throat until Xander finished and held the list up to Spike, who took it and glanced over it.† Shrugging, he handed it off to Tod.
††††††††††††††† "Go on, then.† Be back here before sunrise, right?"
††††††††††††††† "Yeah, sure," Tod muttered, and he turned on his heel and left.
††††††††††††††† "Pissed him off," Xander observed, and Spike laughed.
††††††††††††††† "He'll keep it behind his teeth, if he has any sense."† Spike went over to the kitchen and got a fresh beer.† He opened it and took a long swallow, wandering back to the couch, and noticed Xander watching him - watching him drink.† He felt the smirk curl his mouth up a little and went over and sat down at Oz's feet - looked at the werewolf, who had settled into a heavier sleep but still looked fevered.
††††††††††††††† "Thirsty, rabbit?"† Xander shrugged - did his own check of the wolf.
††††††††††††††† "Yeah, a little."
††††††††††††††† "Here."† Spike held the beer out and Xander looked at him - reached for it.† Spike pulled it back a little.
††††††††††††††† "No - no grabbing, now."
††††††††††††††† "How the fuck am I supposed to drink it, then?"† Spike only grinned - held the bottle out again and watched as Xander got it.
††††††††††††††† "Oh, fuck you," he snapped and got up - paced away from him, heading towards the kitchen.† "This place have a bathroom?† Human, here."
††††††††††††††† "Through there," Spike said, pointing.†† He had no desire to get up close and personal to long-forgotten, purely human functions.† He sat drinking the beer, listening to the plumbing working and then, surprisingly, the elevator.†
††††††††††††††† *Too soon for Tod - must be Wrxl.† 'Bout bloody time.*†††† The elevator groaned down to his floor and he heard the clanking thump of the mesh gate being raised and Wrxl's hesitant, limping step.† Someone else there too, and Spike crossed to the door and slid it open.† Mir - Wrxl's assistant - stood in the doorway, half-hidden under a huge duffle full of medical and herb-smelling things.† Wrxl hovered behind her, wrapped tightly in a huge old Burberry, a slightly wilted Fedora pulled down tight on his head, obscuring his face in deep shadow.† An open, dripping umbrella was propped by the door.
††††††††††††††† "Wrxl - thanks."
††††††††††††††† "Oh, think nothing of it, Spike, nothing at all.† As I said before - the pursuit of knowledge is its own reward.† And I've never actually worked with a werewolf before.† They usually find a den to hide in, if they are sick enough to die."† Wrxl limped inside, his cane tapping sharply on the silvery-grey, aged boards.† Mir staggered in as well and let the duffle to the floor with a sigh.† She was the same sort of demon as Wrxl, but instead of an all over silvery-blue she had delicate spots of pink along her temples, jaw and throat.† Her whiskers went forward, scenting, and then folded flat back to her face and Spike became aware of the miasma of scent that was rolling off the werewolf - dirt and sweat and illness, a thick, sour stench that he'd been ignoring.† But the fever had made it stronger and even Wrxl's whiskers quivered and folded flat, and then edged forward again.
††††††††††††††† "Ah.† Gloves please, Mir, and a mask if you would."† As Wrxl shed his Burberry and fedora, Xander came out of the bathroom.† Spike saw him freeze for one long moment and then he walked quickly over to the couch and crouched down by Oz's feet, just watching.
††††††††††††††† "And who is this?" Wrxl asked, snapping a glove on.
††††††††††††††† "That's the rabbit," Spike said, and Xander shot him a furious glare.
††††††††††††††† "Iím his friend," Xander said, reaching to lay a protective hand on Oz's blanket-covered foot.† "I've been taking care of him."
††††††††††††††† "I see.†† Tell me his history, then.† Mir?† The recorder, if you please."† Mir reached back into the bag and pulled out a compact tape-recorder.† She clicked a button and held it out to Xander, who took it hesitantly.
††††††††††††††† "Just speak normally.† Now...please begin with his name and age, and go from there."† Wrxl began his examination, and Xander began to talk.† Spike retreated to the kitchen area, lighting a cigarette and watching.†† Wrxl was slow - methodical - exacting.† He took tiny samples of blood and hair and tissue - he peered with crystals and tested with barely moistened scraps of cotton-wool.† He stopped Xander often to have him clarify something, or backtrack, or dig into his memories for some tiny scrap of information.† It took over two hours, and by the time he was done Xander's voice was almost gone and he was slumping in an attitude of total exhaustion.† The werewolf had drifted up into consciousness once or twice, but never to lucidity and the fever persisted, drenching him in sweat and jerking him tight in paroxysms of shivers.†
††††††††††††††† *When did the boy sleep last?† It's getting on towards dawn...† Probably hasn't eaten much today, either.† Where's that bloody Tod?*††† The last thing he needed was for the boy to get sick, too.
††††††††††††††† Mir started packing them up and Wrxl came slowly over to Spike, his limp more pronounced.† The old demon was tired as well.
††††††††††††††† "What do you think, Wrxl?† Is he going to make it or not?"
††††††††††††††† "Spike, Spike."† Wrxl leaned on the counter, his whiskers sagging, his hands trembling just a little.† "Of course he will 'make it', as you say.† Werewolves are hard to kill - just like vampires, eh? - and he's young, and he started off healthy.† The trick here is to minimize the damage caused.† The argyria - the silver poisoning - it will be the main thing.† We need to get that out of him.† We need to get that bit of technology out of his head.† Then it will only be a matter of healing.† But the first two - those will be the tricky part."† Wrxl shook his head slowly, clearly thinking on the difficulty of what lay ahead, and Spike jabbed his cigarette out with unnecessary force, his jaw clenched tight to keep himself from saying anything.†
††††††††††††††† "I have to do a little research.† I've left some morphine - it's pure, so please go slowly with it.† His system isn't used to anything that strong, and frankly, it's not able to bear much more at this point.†† I also left some instructions with his young human, there."
††††††††††††††† "My human," Spike muttered, and Wrxl raised a tentacled eyebrow - nodded slowly.
††††††††††††††† "As you say."† Wrxl looked at him for a long moment - glanced over at Mir, who had shouldered the duffle and was waiting, coat and hat in hand.† "He will take an extraordinary amount of care, Spike - and much time, and effort -"
††††††††††††††† "I can pay you for it, Wrxl.† Don't bloody worry about that."
††††††††††††††† "Oh no, no -"†† Wrxl held up a thin hand, shaking his head.† "We both know that's the furthest thing from my mind, Spike.† Viv will see to getting what you owe, you know that.†† What I meant was...† Is he worth it?"† Spike looked sharply at the demon and his own demon snarled - shot to the surface and fixed Wrxl with a cold and steady glare.
††††††††††††††† "I wouldn't tread on that ground, Wrxl.† Not for all the bloody chai there is."† Wrxl regarded him silently, his solidly silver-green eyes fixed and steady and blank of any emotion.† Then he sighed and nodded.
††††††††††††††† "As you say, Spike.† I'll be off, then.† A nap and a drop of - aha - chai, and I can get started on something to leech that silver out of his system.† You need to get in a bed for him - some clothes, that sort of thing.† I'm sure your human can help."† Wrxl eased himself upright - leaned heavily on his cane and limped over to Mir, who helped him on with his coat and hat.
††††††††††††††† "Goodnight, then."
††††††††††††††† "Yeah - thanks, Wrxl."† Wrxl touched the tips of his fingers to the brim of his hat and together he and Mir went slowly out.† Spike followed behind and shut the door, then leaned there for a moment.
††††††††††††††† *Course he's worth it.† Stupid old git.† Worth it.† Saved me, didn't he?† I pay my debts...*† The insistent clamoring - the sounds of pain and ugly pleasure, of despair and horror that whispered along beneath conscious thought at all times - suddenly spiraled louder and Spike pressed his forehead into the door sharply, willing it back down, focusing on the pain.†† *Headspace, yeah...†† "Be careful.†† I am death!"† It was Karait, the dusty brown snakeling that lies for choice on the dusty earth; and his bite is as dangerous as the cobra's.† But he is so small that nobody thinks of him, and so he does the more harm to people.† Christ...*†† Spike turned sharply at a noise, but it was only Xander, rummaging in the kitchen cabinets for something.† Spike took a deep breath and sauntered over to him and Xander backed a step, wary, and then stood there.
††††††††††††††† "What are you doing, rabbit?"
††††††††††††††† "Stop that, Spike.† I'm looking for a glass."
††††††††††††††† "Stop what, rabbit?" Spike asked as slid a step nearer.† Xander backed another step and then was still, caught in the corner between the cabinet and the refrigerator.
††††††††††††††† "Stop calling me rabbit, for fuck's sake."
††††††††††††††† "It suits you though, luv.† †Such big brown eyes and silky...hair..."† Spike grinned a slow and malicious grin at the boy - reached snake-fast to grab the torn hoodie and pull him close.†† "And how you quiver, luv, so soft...Dru had a little rabbit once..."† Spike nuzzled into the smoky, thick scent that clung in the boy's hair - a dark mix of burnt sugar and sweat, incense and cheap shampoo and an earthy musk that was all his own.† *Morphine and pain and sorrow...black sugar candy...*
††††††††††††††† † Xander was stiff against him - trembling just as he'd said and Spike had no idea if it was fear or rage - didn't care.† He rubbed his cheek into the long strands of hair and then abruptly pulled back and dragged the boy with him to the sink.† He turned the tap on and let it run for a moment - put his hand under the cold stream and let his cupped palm fill with water.† He looked over at Xander, eyebrow cocked, his smile just small and soft - mocking.
††††††††††††††† "Thirsty, rabbit?† You don't need a glass."† Xander's eyes were utterly flat - opaque and dark as clotted paint.† He stared at Spike - glanced for a moment towards the werewolf, who was twisting restlessly on the couch.† Then he blinked, and turned, and bent down - siphoned up the water from Spike's palm once and then twice and stood up again, wiping his mouth on his sleeve.†† The trembling was harder now - anger for sure - but he had such a lock on his emotions that Spike had to laugh in sheer delight.
††††††††††††††† "You'll do nicely, rabbit.† Best go sleep a while - you'll be watching over the wolf all day."† Xander stared at him - a blind stare, focusing on some internal image, maybe, or listening to a voice in his head.†
††††††††††††††† *Know all about that, don't we...*†
††††††††††††††† "I hope you meant what you said to that doctor, Spike.† 'Cause I'll make you wish you'd never fuckin' met me if you do anything to make Oz worse."† Spike widened his eyes at that, smile going to delighted grin at the nerve of him.
††††††††††††††† "Don't fret, rabbit.† I keep my promises and I pay my debts.† Wolfling has never had it as good as I'll make it for him."† A last, black glare from the boy and then Xander went over to the couch and smoothed Oz's forehead - curled into the corner down by the werewolf's feet and tucked his head down, settling to sleep.† Spike watched him for a while, just standing there in the kitchen, his mind going off into little dark places until he shook his head and deliberately broke the mood - went to find a book and settled belly-down on his bed, to wait for Tod and to see if the wolf would wake up.†
††††††††††††††† *Rabbit, rabbit.† But maybe he's more of a mongoose - twisty little thing, all silk and fangs.† Time will tell.*