The atmosphere in the room is tense, but Spike ignores it. He calmly discards a card - draws another. Does a small shuffle and then purses his lips.
"See your five, then. And raise. Five more." The Kkldur across from him scratches contemplatively at a boil - inspects its talons for a moment and sucks on one.
"Haven't got ten," it says finally, and Spike raises his eyebrow.
"Well, noooo. But I will have, once you've lost." The Kkldur goes through its ritual again: scratch, inspect, suck. Spike rather suspects it is sucking something off the talon but really, doesn't want to know.
"Call, then." Spike reaches for the bottle on his left - pours a dollop of whiskey into his shot glass and tosses it back. The Kkldur watches him - blows a gust of fetid breath across the table.
"You lose, you know we don't take IOU." The we referred to its clan. Or family. Or something - Spike doesn't actually know, but doesn't care. Kkldur are famous for not letting things slide, and also famous for some pretty inventive ways of getting their pound of flesh. When only sunlight or a wooden stake can kill you, that can get...pretty uncomfortable. Spike grins.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Heard it all before. Call or raise, no difference to me. I've got all night."
"Allll night?" Xander's voice, soft and a bit slurred, and Spike glances over at him, still grinning. His boy is sprawled over an old, ratty couch, bottle in one hand, glass in the other. Although Spike is pretty sure he's stopped using the glass. Old, faded, tight, and worn jeans - over nothing but skin. White wife-beater, ratty old hi-tops. Silken-brown hair tangled just past his shoulders. He looks like some sort of ad for expensive men's cologne, or maybe for an escort service. He looks utterly delicious, and Spike can't wait to taste him. But first, he has a game to win.
"Not all night, pet. Time for you, still." Xander smiles at him, his head tipped back, his throat arched and showing, quite clearly, the scars. The Kkldur glances over at Xander and makes a sort of shuddery motion with its whole body. Kkldur don't like humans. The other two players - a vamp and Clem - shift impatiently. Clem gets a handful of chips out of a bowl and crunches them noisily. The other vamp has folded three hands ago and is now, Spike suspects, watching in the hopes of seeing him go down to the Kkldur. Or at least for a fight to break out so he can nab the pot and run. Spike shoots him a calculating glance and smirks when the other vamp quails visibly.
"Come on now, you gonna raise or...?" The Kkldur blows out another breath and reaches into the basket next to it - adding Spike's ten, and then five more. Its basket is now empty.
"Raise," it says, and pops an olive in its mouth. Clem looks at his hand - shakes his head.
"That's me out, guys." He drops his cards and sits back, cradling the bowl of chips.
"Hrmmm." Spike looks at his cards again - smiles at the Kkldur, who looks unimpressed. "I'm gonna raise you, mate. Did'ja see that nice black bike outside?" The Kkldur pokes at another boil - snags an olive on the same talon. *Don't eat the olives. Fuck.*
"That's the one. I'm gonna raise you that." Spike tosses his motorcycle keys into the pot - pours himself another drink. He looks over at Xander, who has put down glass and bottle. Xander stands up - stretches slowly - then ambles over to the table. He leans on Spike - slides down him until he is in his lap, one arm around his neck and the other burrowing under Spike's duster and t-shirt. Xander's fingers are fever-hot, and trail slowly from hip to ribs and back. Spike pulls Xander close, arm around his back.
"What'cha gonna win for me?" he purrs into Spike's ear, and Spike slips his hand under the waistband of the jeans.
"Somethin' nice. These blokes always have something good," he murmurs back. Xander snuggles his face down into Spike's neck - starts to work his hand up the front of Spike's shirt. The Kkldur grimaces and looks at its hand, ducking its head down; avoiding the sight, or possibly scent, of the human.
"You got nothing that good," it rumbles. Spike shrugs - feels his eyes flutter halfway closed as Xander manages to get his hand up to Spike's chest - scratches at a nipple with rough nails.
"Never know, do ya? One more time, I say - raise, or call." Spike nudges Xander with his chin - catches his boy's mouth in a kiss. Whiskey and the faint, faint taste of his own blood, and Xander - apples, and sweet, and... Xander shifts on his lap - grinds his hip into Spike's groin and teasingly nips at his lower lip. He's had a sip of vampire blood at the start of the night, to keep him from getting too drunk or too tired. Of course, it's made him horny. Which is fine by Spike. The Kkldur is getting agitated by the long kiss, and so is the other vamp. Clem just methodically crunches chips, loud in the silence. After a moment Spike pulls back - turns to face the Kkldur, who is making a bubbling sort of noise. Pissed off, then.
"Yes. I raise. I have this vehicle. 1959 DeSoto. Sportsman. I raise that, and call." The Kkldur throws down his hand. "Full House. Queens over sevens." The Kkldur sits back, looking smug. Spike looks at the cards - shifts Xander over just a little and shivers at the press of weight and heat into his erection.
"Pretty good. But..." Spike lays his hand down, cards spread, and the Kkldur hisses in frustration. "Four of a kind, mate." Four kings and a five. Everyone looks down at the cards - look up at the Kkldur who is sounding like a pot boiling over now, all bubble and hiss.
"You cheat! I discard that king!" The room is utterly silent. Xander turns his head, looking at the Kkldur, and Clem stops with a hand halfway to his mouth. The other vamp pushes his chair away from the table a little, mouth going open in a silent 'oh'. Spike lets the demon surface.
"You care to repeat that, mate?" Spike asks, smooth and soft and oh, so calm, and the Kkldur flinches.
"I - I - make mistake." Spike stares for another moment - deliberately shakes the demon away, and smiles a small, tight smile.
"I thought so. So - keys?"
"They in vehicle." The Kkldur mumbles, and pushes itself to its feet. It is at least six feet, broad and lumpy with boils. Xander slithers off Spike's lap and snags his bottle, and Spike rises as well, Xander's hand in his. Spike pulls Xander close - presses a kiss to his temple.
"When we get outside, you stay close to the door, right? This'll be nasty." Xander shoots him a quick, smirking glance and nods, squeezing his hand. They go out the back door and up the short alley behind Willy's to the small, gravel parking lot. Spike's motorcycle is off to one side, gleaming under the streetlights. And the DeSoto. Spike has been looking for it for over a year - the bloody city had towed it, and it had disappeared into the sea of paperwork that was most police stations. It came up for auction two weeks ago, and he hadn't been able to buy it - short notice, daylight, all that. Now he has it back. The last thing he needs - they need. Clem had tipped him off to who had bought the car.
The Kkldur shuffles across the gravel and opens the driver's door - pulls the visor down and catches the key that falls out.
"Here is key. And there is uvkkt, and now you dust." The Kkldur nods over Spike's shoulder and Spike spares a glance at the three hulking figures that are circling in from out of the shadows. Clan, he supposes. Spike grins - shifts to the demon.
"You cheating bastard," he says. In one smooth motion he draws a knife from his boot and throws it, putting it squarely between the Kkldur's blinking, piggy eyes. The Kkldur's hands lift - scrabble - and it topples over in slow motion. The other three let out shrieks like kettles on the boil and Spike spins to meet them, catching sight of Xander out of the corner of his eye. His boy lounges against the alley-mouth, one hand in his pocket, the other holding the bottle. He watches with interest as Spike leaps up and kicks one of the Kkldur in the head, denting the skull and sending the demon stumbling to its knees. *Steel toes do it every time* Spike thinks in satisfaction, and feels the grin stretching his mouth wide - feels the surge of adrenalin and bloodlust that is like champagne - cocaine - Slayer's blood. It's a good feeling. The Kkldur rely mostly on size and brute force, and they're no match for a vampire who can move twice as fast - and be twice as ruthless. In minutes the three are down with their clan-mate, gasping out last, dying breaths and Spike saunters over to the first one - plucks the DeSoto's keys from its stiffening fingers.
"You did discard that king, mate." Spike says, then goes back over to the alley and Xander, shedding the demon and tossing the keys and catching them, gleeful.
"I ever tell you that you are sooo fuckin' hot when you do that?" Xander slides his hands around Spike's waist - pulls him close for a hard kiss, pressing their hips together almost painfully tight. Spike sinks into that kiss - into the heat and the desire - and only surfaces when he hears an embarrassed cough.
It's Clem, standing and looking off towards the sky, shooting little glances at them.
"Uh...right. You done? I got your winnings here, Spike." Clem holds out a large wicker-work basket, and the kittens inside mewl and claw the sides. Xander puts out a hand and touches the basket.
"I'll bet Dawnie would like a kitten," he says softly, and Spike squeezes him a little tighter - lets him go.
"Pick one out, then, and we'll go. You got the keys to the bike, Clem?"
"Oh sure." Clem puts the basket down on the ground so Xander can look inside and pulls the bike keys from his pocket - holds them up for Spike to see. "And here's the money -" Clem digs into another pocket for the roll of bills. He'd bought the motorcycle from Spike two days earlier, and had agreed to let Spike use it in the game, so he could get the Kkldur to put the DeSoto in the pot. Wouldn't do to just kill the whole clan for his car - he had to at least appear legitimate. Of course, if the Kkldur hadn't put up the car, he'd have killed them all anyway. But this way he got to play some poker. Spike took the bills and tucked them away.
"Ta, mate. You did good tonight."
"Thanks Spike," Clem grins, bobbing in place just a little, and Xander stands up with two kittens, one in each hand. Spike feels his eyebrow going up.
"Can't have one cat alone - they get lonely. And with Willow gone - " Xander bites his lip, and Spike reaches out and gently strokes his fingers through Xander's hair.
"Yeah. C'mon, let's go."
At Xander's insistence, they stop at the open-all-night discount store to get food, bowls, a round, plush kitty bed, an assortment of catnip mice, litter and litter box and two collars. Red for the mostly-black kitten who has a white tail-tip and one white ear, and blue for the Siamese mix that has the mask and dark tail but white paws. Xander gets a card, too - a blank one with stars and moons on it, and spends the ride over to the Summer's house writing in it. Spike is silent, giving him privacy. He knows this is hard.
They put everything on the porch - make sure the basket Clem found for the kittens is latched tight - and ring the doorbell. Xander smiles as they trot away, back to the DeSoto, and they don't stay to see the door open, or Dawn and Tara come outside.
Spike wants to see how the car has held up, so he takes them out to Highway 101 and blasts north, going as fast as he can. The Kkldur has had the car cleaned out and cleaned up, and it's almost like the day he took it. Xander sits with his sneakers up on the dash, looking out the window, his hair whipping across his face and back. His hands are clenched tight on his knees, and Spike knows he's thinking too much about things that can't be helped.
They drive for half an hour, maybe - just to Santa Barbara, and Spike takes them to the beach - Isla Vista. There are bluffs there, overlooking the water, and he ignores signs and sidewalks and parks the DeSoto close enough to see the water. Xander just sits, and Spike gets out of the car and goes to the front - leans on the warm hood and lights a cigarette. The ocean breeze blows straight into his face, cool and damp and full of scents - carrying sounds from up the coast. A crescent moon hangs low, silver sickle in the soft navy sky. It's nearly three a.m., but there is still some traffic in the city. Spike smokes, and waits, and after a bit Xander gets out - walks to the edge of the bluff and looks down at the surf. The wind curls and lifts and combs his hair - enough to make Spike jealous - and he flicks the cigarette butt away and gets up close behind Xander. Arms around his waist, chin just on Xander's shoulder in his Docs, and Xander leans back into him, sighing. His boy's skin is cool, his body trembling ever so slightly. Spike hugs him tight - kisses the side of his neck.
"All right, pet?"
"All right. We're really - gonna go, huh."
"Really are. We have to love, you know that."
"I know that," on a sigh, and Xander turns and buries his face in Spike's neck, arms pushing under the duster and Spike wraps it around him and holds him close. Rubs his hands gently up and down Xander's back - kisses the wind-roughened hair. Since Spike killed his third Slayer - over a month ago - things have just...been different. The dark Slayer's death has shattered beyond repairing the fragile friendships that the two witches and Xander have tried to maintain. With the watcher gone, and Buffy dead for all time, things have simply gotten - strained. And the red witch made them all afraid; using magic more often, using stronger magics, and magics that had consequences she didn't seem to care about. The Glinda-witch had finally asked her to move out, and now she alone took care of Dawn. The absent father stayed absent - sent money and instructions and permissions, but didn't surface. Xander had quit his job at the Magic Box - demon-girl was selling out - and had come to live with Spike.
Spike smiles at that thought - lets the rusty purr he seldom admits to rumble out from his chest. He loves having Xander there - having his warmth and his laughter. Having him, just there, to touch or look at or kiss whenever he wants to. They'd spent days in the mansion, wrapped up in each other, just talking, or listening to music - just resting against each other. Resting battered hearts and weary minds. A healing time, for his boy. A time for him to be done with his old life - with the Hellmouth. Time to ready himself to leave.
Xander breathes deeply, his arms tight around Spike's ribs, his mouth warm and wet against his neck. He lifts his head fractionally - takes Spike's earlobe gently between his teeth.
"Want you," he whispers, and Spike shivers all over in delight.
"C'mon." Spike turns them and guides Xander to the car - takes off the duster and tosses it into the front seat. He opens the back door and slides inside and Xander scrambles in after him, shutting the door. In the dimness Xander toes off the hi-tops - undoes the jeans and pushes them down. Spike is doing the same; tossing his t-shirt into the front and pushing his jeans down. Before he can get them off Xander is on his lap, heavy and warm, hands locked behind his neck pulling Spike to him. Kissing him, hard and deep and a little desperate. Spike is half -hard, and Xander is, and his boy does a slow roll and grind, pressing them groin to groin as tight as he can. Spike arches into the contact - runs his nails lightly up and down Xander's back. He cups the taut buttocks in his hands and kneads - opens Xander wide, hearing his heart start to pound, smelling clean sweat and warm musk. Xander breaks the kiss, gasping, his head going back and his hands threading through Spike's hair.
"You ready for me?" Spike murmurs, and Xander lowers his head - looks at Spike from under his lashes, eyes glittering and mouth curving in a wicked smile.
"Always ready for you, Spike. Feel..." Spike slips one hand closer - runs his fingers down the warm crevice and finds slick - Xander, all prepared. Want sparks through him, like a pulse of liquid fire, and Spike groans softly.
"Boy Scout," Spike chuckles, and spends a few minutes just probing - feeling - making Xander thrust a hard and slippery-wet cock into his belly - making him dig his nails into Spike's shoulders a little.
"C'mon Spike, fuck..." Xander whispers, and Spike positions himself - pushes up as Xander pushes down and edges into tight, silken heat. Xander makes a whimpering noise and pushes, and then he is tight to Spike's thighs, his body clamping down hard. Spike is breathing now; rapid, ragged breaths and Xander is at his mouth with teeth and tongue and lips, drawing blood in tiny nips that he laps at, moaning. Spike curls his fingers around Xander's hips - lifts him and pulls him back down, slow rhythm. Xander fights for more, for faster, but Spike won't let him and Xander arches back, his shoulders on the top of the front seat, his hands over Spike's. He is sculpted and palely golden - flushed at nipples and cheeks and the length of his cock. His mouth is open, his lips bruised and smeared with blood and Spike can feel the demon coming out - wanting to claim this incubus that's writhing around and above him. He starts to thrust harder, pounding into willing flesh, and Xander spreads his legs wider, slippery on the leather seat. Spike runs his hands up Xander's back - pulls him in close and licks up his sternum; drags a fang over the pectoral and laps. Tasting salt-sweat and apples, tasting fear and love and pain. Xander pushes his hands through Spike's hair - lifts his head and stares at him. Demon's eyes staring back, Spike knows, but there is only want in that look.
"Tell me, Spike...oh...tell me, tell me..." Xander shudders and thrust down harder, and Spike's hands are back on his hips. Bruises by dawn, scratches already down his back.
"Gonna leave, pet. Gonna get in this car and drive - just drive. Drive as far and as fast as we want to."
"Don't have to stop," Xander murmurs, and Spike grins at him.
"Never have to stop. We'll crate her up - send her 'cross the pond. Drive wherever we want. Leave this place in our dust, love, that's what we'll do. Leave it in our dust and never look back."
"Never look back," Xander whispers, and he leans forward and sinks his teeth into Spike's neck. A hard, possessive bite, tearing flesh and drawing blood. Spike feels his blood surging from him - feels the bone-deep ache that spreads from his throat to his chest, to his belly. An ache that wants - that needs, and he's slamming himself upwards, now; pounding into Xander and digging his nails into the muscles of Xander's thighs. Xander does his own damage; worrying the bite and scoring his nails down Spike's chest - across his nipples and to his belly, again and again. Blood and semen and sweat, and Spike comes hard, crying out. He can't wait any more - he shakes his head, dislodging the teeth in his throat and sinking his fingers into Xander's hair - yanking his head over and driving his fangs in deep. Xander's blood is nectar - is life - and he groans as he drinks. Xander's body stutters into a mindless frenzy, thrusting his cock into Spike's belly - clamping down hard on Spike's cock that's still hard enough, inside him. He comes a moment later, hot and slippery between them, oh and oh and Ssspike, his voice hoarse. They slump together, and Spike hugs Xander to him hard as he can without hurting him. He cleans the bite and kisses it gently - extends the kisses to jaw and cheek and mouth, slowly. Xander is shaking and Spike pulls away a little - nuzzles cheek to cheek.
"All right love?"
"Yeah. I'm all right. Love you."
"Love you too." Xander leans into him and they both simply rest there. Spike inhales slowly, deeply - scent of leather and the sea, of warm metal. Scent of his boy, all around him - of himself. Those scents so mingled and mixed there's no teasing them apart. It's right that it's like that. Once upon a time it was Dru - Dru's scent and Dru's blood - Dru's voice in his ear and Dru's self, invading him. But he's shed that like a duck sheds water, and her blood doesn't call to him, anymore. The pain she brought erasing the pleasure for all time. Now it's Xander, through him like the sweetest poison - the strongest drug. Opium and Lethe, and Spike drowns happily.
Before dawn they're back at the mansion, and three minutes past sunset sees them gone; shaking the dust from their shoes and not looking back, not once.