South

South

So, he can kill demons.†† And really, he's been so frustrated lately that he's bouncin' off the walls and can't stop himself from nattering at the boy and the witch to go out and kill some more.† Right now!† Red-witch doesn't want to go but the boy finally sighs and rolls his eyes and says yes, fine, anything to make you shut up.

So they walk Red-witch home and then hit the cemeteries - the alleys - wherever they might find some likely candidates for Spike to work out some frustration on.† Five dead vamps and two dead demons later Spike is feeling pleasantly tired and sated and the adrenalin buzz has settled to a comfortable hum somewhere in the back of his head.† If he were with Dru, they'd go home and spend the rest of the night in bed, touching and kissing and fucking until they couldn't move.†† And fuck, Spike misses her, misses her so much.

He looks at the boy speculatively out of the corner of his eye but he kinda doubts Harris wants to get fucked, so he settles for nicking a bottle of whiskey from the Quickie-Mart.† Harris gets some sort of weird grape drink and they wander back towards his house.† When Spike breaks the seal on the whiskey and takes a long drink Harris shoots him a look.

"What?"

"You stole that."

Spike rolls his eyes.† He pulls a three-pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.††† "Stole this, too.† Evil, remember?† Haven't paid for a smoke in...sixty years.† Not gonna start now."† Spike wrestles a pack free of its 'Buy Two Get One Free' wrappings and lights up, and Harris sucks down some more grape stuff, swirling the cup a little.

"You know, some places make you pay for stuff that's missing out of your paycheck," Harris says, and Spike thinks about that for a minute.

"So?† That's stupid.† People nick stuff all the time - should have that worked into the overhead or some such."

"They do.† It comes out of the paycheck of the guy on duty."† Harris says this like it's important, and Spike smokes in silence for a bit, thinking it over.† He decides Harris cares because he's worked jobs like that, and probably had to pay for missing stuff a time or two.† But that's neither here nor there, since right now Harris is doing the job-search thing again.† And he's bummed about it, Spike can tell, 'cause the Slayer made a little joke about it today.† Nothing nasty, just...† The sort of thing a college-girl might say to a townie, aiming for flip but arriving at snarky.† And Spike's been watching, and he knows Harris doesn't lose the jobs because he's not competent.† He loses them because he's 19 and he needs more sleep and better food and a break from the perpetual on-call state that is Scooby-dom.†† The Slayer and the witch curl up in their dorm at night, all snug and safe, and the Watcher has his flat, which is surprisingly quiet, considering he's surrounded by people on all sides.

But Harris has the cramped quarters of the basement and his mother coming down at odd hours to do laundry and bitch about the state of the bathroom and his father coming down to nag about the rent - which he can't believe they charge their own kid - and then the two of them doing their own warped version of Ozzie and Harriet at the top of their lungs more nights than not.† Or maybe it's more like Alice and Ralph, he can't really decide.† It's enough to make Spike want to put somebody through a wall and he can't believe that Harris hasn't taken a baseball bat or a gun to them some night.

But he hasn't and he doesn't.† He just drags out the BonAmi and scrubs the shower that's too old to ever really be clean, and ponies up his hard-won cash with nothing more than a shake of the head.† It's the screaming and the breaking of things that get to him, and his shoulders hunch almost up to his ears and he turns the TV up real loud.† So loud that he can't actually sleep.†

It's late, and Harris is stumbling a little - yawning every other breath and looking ready to drop.† Long day doing Slayer stuff that really the Slayer should be doing, and now this extra late-night patrol.† Spike doesn't feel guilty for dragging the boy out, but he decides that maybe, when they get back to the basement, he won't turn the TV on or try to pick a fight.††

For once Mr. and Mrs. are quiet - just the perpetual drone of the TV that Spike can hear from upstairs but figures Harris probably can't.† He settles into that fucking Barcalounger and watches the boy stagger around, washing the fork and cup that he used when he had his nauseating microwave meal earlier, loading up the washing machine with clothes and getting it going and then taking a fast shower.† He pulls out the sofa-bed and crawls under the covers and he's asleep so fast he doesn't even tie Spike up.† Which is good, 'cause Spike's got plans.† He goes upstairs and liberates the bankbook from the laughable lockbox under the bed in the master bedroom and saunters out, sparing a glance for the two drunks sprawled on the couch, looking like the dead in the blue wash of a TV channel that's gone off the air.††

 

The bankbook has a healthy sum in it - more than he imagined when he first spied it - and he knows a demon who'll take it and touch the paper - leach some trace of who owns it off the fake leather cover and become them - and clean the account out.† For ten percent, he'll give Spike the cash tonight, and when the deal's done Spike heads for Willy's bar with close to 17,000 dollars in his inner pocket.† Tonight - as much blood-and-bourbon as he can hold and his car out of storage and tomorrow - the world.† Well, maybe not tomorrow.† It'll probably take a week for him to be really ready.† He grins, and hopes somebody wants to fight.† He's feeling good.† He ends up spending the day in a fairly comfy lair under an old bakery.† The vampire that lives there is a long-legged Amazon of a girl and Spike is pleasantly exhausted come dawn.

Scooby meeting and Scooby meeting and patrol and patrol and patrol, and it's closer to ten days, really.† And it's getting worse.† The 'townie vs. university' jokes keep happening.† The job situation doesn't change.† Mr. and Mrs. discover the broken lock-box and holy hell breaks out.† Spike watches Harris get quieter, smaller - more tired.† It's just...not right.†† Spike ignores the demon when it objects to the sympathy.† Harris never shuts up but he tends to run in and save the day - or at least try to.† He's devoted to his girls, and maybe getting a crush on the Watcher, and Spike just knows there's more to him than meets the eye.† For some reason, he wants to make Harris - better.

*I'm just bored,* †he thinks, and goes back to looting the corpse of the demon he just killed.

He's got it all worked out - he really does - but suddenly everything spins out of control.† They bust the Initiative - send them packing and Spike has a moment of utter joy that's swiftly tempered by the knowledge that getting that damn military piece of crap out of his head just got a lot harder.

But then - wham, bam! - there's some sort of god running around Sunnydale, making people crazy and threatening the Slayer and her little group - trying to find some key.† And Spike is pissed, 'cause he's had to wait, and wait, and wait to make his plan work.† Mr. and Mrs. have never gotten over their bank-book being stolen and they give the boy grief over it at least once a week.

And Harris - just gets more brittle.† Late at night Spike frets about it in his crypt, and he tries to make the boy feel included - invites him along on a poker night, once - plays pool with him.† But Harris just can't seem to let go of - things.† And the job situation is making him desperate.† He'd had something good in construction until too many late nights and pointless trips for 'research' got him fired, and now, it seems, he's just hanging on by a thread.† Pale, getting too thin, getting too quiet.

But the Watcher finally comes through for them.† Discovers that the god was put into a human, to keep her under control.† And he's found a way to divine who that human is.†† Killing the human - kills the god.† Buffy vetoes it almost out of hand.† Willow also can't imagine killing a human.† Tara doesnít say a word, but the fierce glint in her eye says it all, and Spike nods his head at her, just the once.† She knows, and so does he.† It's Harris who voices what they won't say - that killing this one human means saving the world.† He's drowned in argument - pummeled by shocked horror.† He bows his head to it, and gives up.

Later, Spike has a private word with the Watcher, who has Harris come around the next day, and they watch Rupert do the divination spell; are shocked to silence by who the god's vessel is.†† They know the human - an intern at the hospital, who helped when Joyce was ill.† It'll be easy to find him - lure him.† Spike thinks that because of the god in him, he won't be all human, and therefore Spike can take him out.† The Watcher isn't sure, but he's willing to let Spike try.† Harris just looks at him until Spike finally snaps.

"What are you starin' at, mate?" he says, and Harris shakes his head, real slow.

"If he's all human - you'll get hurt.† I mean - if you actually do something like grab him and - and break his neck, won't the chip - "†† Harris stops, and his heart is pounding, and Spike wonders what, exactly, is going on in the boy's head.

"Won't kill me.† It'll hurt, sure, but -" Spike shrugs.† "I can take the pain."

"Why would you?" Harris asks, and Spike shrugs again.†

"Won't have this thing in my head forever.† Even computer parts break down.† Want there to be an actual world, when I'm myself again.† Not some - hell dimension.† Not a nice place for a vampire, really."† Spike shudders ever so slightly and Harris's eyebrows go up.††† "Besides - taking out a god - that's somethin', isn't it?† Better than a Slayer, even."† Harris just shakes his head, but there's a hint of a smile in his eyes, and Spike smiles back.† But the smile doesn't last, because Harris and the Watcher - they like this Ben.† It's too bad, Spike thinks, but he really has to go.† He doesn't say that out loud, because the guilt is already near to killing the two humans.† But he does push them gently in the direction of a plan, and at last they hammer it out.

In the end, it happens almost too fast.†† Harris gets hurt on patrol.† Nothing too awful, just a cut along his back.† But it's deep enough for stitches and Spike just growls at him when he suggests the little butterfly bandages and a beer.† He's trying to make the boy take better care, and he's furious with himself for not getting his own victim killed fast enough to help Harris out.

"If I could stitch you up myself, I would," Spike says, dragging him along.† "But I can't, so just let them do it so we can go - so you can go home."† Harris just glares at him but he lets Spike chivvy him to the ER and he lets the doctors do their thing.† Twenty-seven stitches later and they're wandering around the labyrinth of the hospitals basement, trying to find some blood.† Spike knows they throw a lot away here, and he's going to find it.† Harris is grumbling and dragging his feet and suddenly Ben is there, saying hi, looking surprised.† Spike doesn't even hesitate.† He hits Ben like a striking cobra, heel of his hand to the human's nose and as Ben's head snaps back, blood already pouring, the chip fires like a gunshot from the inside and Spike goes down as well.

It's a good thing they're in the hospital - when Spike comes to he can barely walk and Harris drags him back into some storage room and leaves him there - comes back ten minutes later with a carrier-bag full of blood.† Spike drinks and drinks - notices, finally, that Harris is...† That he's sitting on the floor with his arms over his knees, his head down.† His hands are dangling out in front of him and there's blood on them and its Ben-Glory's blood, and Spike scoots over to him and touches his shoulder.

"Did I do it, mate?† Did I kill her?"

"M-mostly," Harris rasps, and Spike can smell tears.† "He - I had to..."† Harris's voice chokes off, and Spike looks at the line of his bowed back - at the dark fall of longish, waved hair.† At the long, callused fingers that are smeared with dark-brown, drying blood.

"Yeah.† Where's the body?"

"Incinerator.† He - he was her, at the end.† She didn't look - right."† Spike nods silently - realizes that Harris can't see that, so he reaches out and rubs his shoulder again.† Harris shivers and sighs, and they go to the Watcher's and tell him, and Giles pours them all a glass of† Scotch.† For the first time since he's known him, Spike sees Harris drink alcohol, and he can tell he hates it.† But it's something you do, and he falls asleep on the Watcher's couch.

Of course, nothing ever goes right, does it?†† The Slayer finds out, and then the witches.† They're relieved, that Glory is gone.† They're coldly scathing of Spike's instant reaction - vampire, evil, soulless, after all - but they're incredulous about Harris's part in the killing.† And their attitude - shifts.† They treat him...differently and Spike has more than one screaming row about it up and down the aisles of this or that cemetery with the Slayer.† But she won't budge, and Willow won't.† Tara still treats Harris the same - touches his hand, smiles at him.† Joyce and Dawn were never told, and they love Xander like the son and brother they never had.†† Giles tries to argue the Slayer down off her high horse, but she's having none of it, and Spike wishes fiercely that he could just smack her.† That he could break some bones until she listens.

The witch and the Slayer cutting him out - Spike can tell it hurts him worse than anything ever could, and the first time Buffy tells Xander she doesn't really want him on patrol with her is the beginning of the end.† Giles can't fix this, but Spike thinks he can.

At the Watcher's flat, and Harris is hunched and miserable, looking a little ill.† He's got a bruise on his arm and on his jaw and when Tara asks he tells her that he and Spike did a second patrol so Spike could kill some demons.† Buffy gives Spike a fierce glance but doesn't say anything and Spike watches Harris slump a little lower.† He stinks of sadness and pain, of hopelessness and fear, and Spike knows it's now or never.† No patrol tonight - all research - and Spike wants to be out of there.† He makes a quick, furtive phone call on the cell he got from Willy; half an hour, tops, and they can go.† He spends the next thirty minutes pacing the flat, watching the boy, snarling at the looks he's getting from the rest.† Tara just smiles at him, sympathetic and tired.† Finally times up, and he kicks the side of Harris' shoe and stands there, waiting.

"Let's go kill something, yeah?" he says, grinning, and a faint answering grin lifts Harris' mouth and makes his eyes light up before he scowls and looks away.

"Yes, go kill things," the Watcher murmurs, turning a page, and Harris gets up and shuffles out, Spike right on his heels.† They go maybe a half a block before a demon leaps up out of the bushes, brandishing something.† A wand?†† Or maybe a pencil, it's really hard to tell.† And Harris yelps, jumping back, and Spike growls, and the demon says something, pointing, and Harris tumbles to the ground.† Spike manages to catch him before he smacks right onto the concrete and then his DeSoto is there, rumbling up to the curb. †Spike loads the boy in, and pats Clem on the back, and nods once to the Azulth demon that cast the sleep-spell.† Takes the little proffered bundle for the other spell and they're off - driving fast and hard, The Clash screaming out from the stereo and Harris curled over in the seat, the wind pushing his dark hair back and forth across his face.†

Harris wakes up when they're somewhere southeast of L.A., the desert stretched around them like stained and rumpled linen, the moon small and cold and far, far away.† The Clash has been replaced by Lou Reed and Harris stirs and makes a moaning sort of noise - sits up gingerly, rubbing his head.

"What the hell?" he mumbles, and then he sees Spike and the desert flowing by outside and his eyes get wide, and then narrow in speculation.

"Spike?† What the hell are we doing in - well, in what I can only guess is your car?† I mean, nobody else would have this many empty bottles of JD in one vehicle and still be alive."† Harris sounds dead tired, and not particularly angry, and Spike turns the music down a little and looks over at him.† Takes the cigarette out of his mouth and tosses it out the window.

"We're goin' to see somebody.† And you're getting' out of Sunnyhell for a while.† Got a problem with that?"† Harris just sighs and shakes his head.

"Spike - just go back.† You know they'll come looking.† And Buffy really does want to stake you.† And - you can't actually stop me, you know."

"Sure I can," Spike says.† He reaches over and prods the bruise on Harris' jaw - ignores the sick little sizzle of pain that flares through his head when Harris flinches away.

"Where'd that come from, Harris?† Didn't get it on patrol," Spike says, and Harris looks at him for one long moment and then turns away, staring out the window, squinting a little against the still-warm air that pulses in.

"None of your fuckin' business, Spike.† Just take me home."

"Fuck that," Spike says, and turns Lou back up.† Harris just sits there, not even trying, not even moving, and Spike finally jerks the wheel to the side, slamming on the brakes and coming to a skidding halt on the verge.† Harris is thrown forward and his hands slap onto the dash, then he's recoiling and his back hits the seat hard, driving the air out of him in a startled ooof.†

"Spike!† What the fuck -!" he squeaks, but he's not really pissed, he's just startled and Spike gets out of the car and roars, game-face to the stars.

"Christ!† Harris, what the fuck is wrong with you?† Aren't you pissed off?† Don't you want to fight?"† Harris just stares at him, pale face gone thin and drawn, smudges under his eyes like the junkies that lived in Central Park and Spike opens the door - drags Harris out by his shirt and shoves him, stumbling and flailing, into the gravel-dirt-sand of the verge.† There's wiry grass there, and spiky looking plants and maybe even cactus, and Spike wonders if he'll get pissed if he falls on one.† Harris skids and wobbles but ends on his feet, glaring at Spike.

"What.† The fuck.† Is wrong with you?" he grates out, and Spike grins at him, loving the little flinch back from fangs and demonic eyes.

"You need to pull yourself together, Harris.† Hanging out with you was really getting old.† You just - gave up!† It's boring."

"I don't believe this!" Harris shouts, and Spike thinks maybe he's finally gonna do something but after a minute he just kicks savagely at the dirt - goes and leans head-down on the roof of the DeSoto, shoulders tight and shaking.

"Just take me home, Spike.† They'll come looking and you'll just get dusted and -"†† Harris doesn't finish that, and Spike stalks over to him and jerks him around - pushes him up sharply against the car and leans in close - close enough to feel the heat coming off the solid, rangy body.

"You just want me to get you home quick before you're gone too long.† 'Cause if I keep you out here for four or five days and you get back and they didn't even notice - that's gonna really hurt, isn't it?† And you're afraid that's exactly what's gonna happen, aren't you?† That they won't even notice.†† Won't care."† Harris's eyes are wide and panicked and dry, and Spike wants to lean in a little closer and breathe in his scent, that's earth and wood and dust, blood and misery.† But he doesn't.† He just stares at the boy and Harris stares back until he can't anymore.

"Fuck you," he mutters finally - roughly - and he pushes Spike away - starts stomping down the highway, not even in the right direction.

"Can't leave, Harris" Spike says, leaning against the car and watching him, and Harris spins around, scowling.

"Watch me, Spike!† You've got a lot of fucking nerve, dragging me out here - telling me shit about my life!† It's a bunch of bullshit!† You don't know anything about my life - or anything!"† He spins around again - strides on for five, six more steps - and suddenly he's reeling, yelling - falling to the dirt, his body shuddering in pain.

"Told you, boy.† You can't leave.† Better get back here closer to me."† Spike watches as the boy writhes - crawls.† One foot, then two, then three and he shudders to a stop, panting.†

"'What did you do, what did you fuckin' do?!" he gasps out, and Spike slides one hip up onto the bonnet of the DeSoto.† He takes his time lighting a cigarette and taking the first few puffs.† Harris is up on his butt now, knees canted wide and tucked into the bend of his elbows, right hand clasping left wrist.† His hair is down in his eyes and his shoulders are shaking, but he's quiet.

"Just a spell, Harris," Spike says finally.† And it is.† A small spell, really.† When Harris gets too far away, the spell kicks in.† And it hurts.† It hurts a lot, apparently, but Spike doesn't care about that.† He just wants it to hurt enough, so the boy will know it's serious.† There's a little glyph on the back of Harris's neck, painted in the demonic equivalent of henna.

"You try to get away - get in a car, say, or a bus - it'll just get worse and worse, the farther away you get.† After about...a mile, I think? It'll kill you."† Harris flinches - looks up at him and his face is almost cartoonish with shock and horror.

*What's it like, then, havin' a choke-chain on?*†† Spike thinks savagely, and some of that shows on his face.

"You bastard," Harris says, but his voice is shaky and whispery and weak, and Spike flicks the butt of his cigarette away - gets off the car.

"Get back in, Harris.† We've got some drivin' to do."

 

Rio is just like Spike remembers it - loud and hot and mad - and he knows why Dru likes it here. He's been following rumors and leads and a faint, faint trail for a week or more when he finally finds her.† She's got herself a pretty little house in Ipanema, right near the edge of Lake Lagoa.†† Living high - living rich - and Spike wonders if she's still with that Chaos demon, or if she's moved on.

He knocks on her door, tense and suddenly angry, although he's trying not to be either, and she's there - just there.† Opening the door and looking out at him, her eyes going wide and wondering, her smile curving up in that way she has, that makes her look like a child on Christmas morning.

"Spike?" she breathes, and then she flings herself on him and holds him for one glorious moment, scent of oranges and musk and vanilla and blood.† But then she's backing away, her fingers sliding off his shoulders and her chin going down - her eyes flashing up at him in that look he knows so well.† The one that she would give him when she'd sway off with the bastard Angelus.†

"Hullo, love," he says softly, and she nods a little - looks over his shoulder.†

"You came back, Spike," she murmurs.† "Is that my present for being a good girl?"† Her dark eyes are sparkling and Spike reaches behind him and finds Harris's wrist.† Pulls him up to the door.

"No love, sorry.† He's mine.†† Gonna ask me in, Dru?"† He can feel the boy shaking, just a little - can hear his heart pounding too fast, and he strokes his thumb once over the pulse-point in the boy's wrist.† Xander twitches ever so slightly.

"Course you can, Spike.† You can always come in.† Just make sure you can get out again."† Dru drifts back from the door, her white gown wisping around her, her hair gleaming dark and rich as a raven's wing.† Spike feels a wrench of longing go through him, but he pushes it away and strides in, pulling Harris along.†

"Shut the door, Harris," he says, and he hears it click shut and sighs.† Harris - is worse, maybe.† Spike can't really tell.† His apathy is amazing - his depression getting blacker.† He'd tried, for the first week, to get away.† Even stole a car, but he'd crashed it writhing in agony, lucky to escape with only a few bruises.† After that he'd settled down.† He's almost stopped talking - which is, frankly, terrifying - and he lets Spike do whatever he wants - lets Spike tug him here and lead him there and push him into bed, push him into a shower.† No modesty and less energy and Spike is getting desperate.†

*At least he gave up on trying to get away,* †Spike thinks.† The spell he bought was only good for about two weeks, anyway, and as often as Harris had tried it he was pretty sure it wouldn't work at all now.† And the demon-henna had all worn away.

"I know why you're here, Spike," Dru says, settling herself light as a feather on a straight-backed chair.† It's a lair- a nest - in the flat.† Stolen clothes and jewelry and gee-gaws everywhere.† Crystal vases full of dead flowers, bowls full of change and keys and rings from her kills.† Heavy draperies, swathes of lace and velvet and it makes the room seem dark and secret and old - as old as this ancient city.

"Why am I here, love?" Spike asks, settling opposite her on a low, overstuffed couch.† Harris just stands there, staring at his shoes or maybe the carpet, who knows?† Still too thin and too pale, but he does eat, and Spike orders him vegetables and keeps a net bag of fruit in the car.† He doesn't remember much about being human, but he's watched enough television to know what's what.† He makes him drink juice, too - no more soda.† Harris doesn't seem to notice.

"You've been a very bad dog, Spike.† Caught you and kenneled you, didn't they?† Hurt you...oh..."† Dru puts her long, thin hands to her head - holds her temples and keens, a nasty sort of sound that makes Spike grit his teeth and makes Harris actually twitch, looking up.

"Still hurts, still hurts, oooh...like bees, like acid bees..."† Dru twists her head from side to side, squeezing her eyes shut.† But then she suddenly opens them - stares straight at him with a sly smile coming over her face.

"But it's all lies, Spike.† I don't trust these things I can't see - tiny little monsters that make you sick?† Tiny little engines that make you hurt...† But only sometimes, isn't that right, Spike?† Only sometimes."

"That's right, pet.† Only when it's humans."

"Humans," Dru growls, and Spike smiles at her.† She reaches out and blindly picks up a long sliver of wood - a chopstick that has an inlay of Mother of Pearl down the sides.† She winds her hair up and stabs the chopstick through it, showing her long and slender neck.† Harris has gone rigid, and Spike can smell the panic rolling off him.

"They think they're so clever, humans, but they're not.† No, not at all.† It's all about seeing, my darling - all about knowing just what you're looking at."† She tilts her head to one side and then the other.† "I can fix it, Spike, I can."

"Can you, Princess?† I'd do about anything for you, if you could," Spike says, leaning forward, and Dru smiles at him - flicks her glance to Harris and back and Spike sighs, rubbing his hand over his neck.†

*Of course.† Damnit.† Bloody HELL...*†† "Dru, love, what do you want exactly?"

"I just want my due, Spike.† I just want - what I should have had."† She's smiling that smile again, sly and mocking and seductive all at once.† Harris's heart is really pounding now, really going, and Spike's sure that that only adds to Dru's desire.†

"How do you figure you should have, love?† I already told you he's mine."

"But he was mine too, Spike!† You remember, don't you boy?† You remember, kitten."† Her voice drops to a seductive purr and Dru gets up and glides over to Harris, who's still standing there; staring wide-eyed at her, hands clenched in fists and his breath coming in pants, now.† "Remember, my love, how I told you I wanted you?† How I fought Daddy for you?"† Harris flicks a glance of utter panic at Spike and Spike sighs again - pushes himself to his feet and goes over to the boy - gets himself wedged a little between the two of them.

"Dru - what are you talking about?" he asks, but it's Harris that answers.

"There was a spell," he husks, his voice dry and cracking, and Spike looks at him.† "Every woman in Sunnydale wanted me - including D-drusilla.† She came to Buffy's house and almost - got me."

"Did you, Princess?† I suppose I was stuck in that sodding chair, then."†

"Yes, poor thing, you were," Dru says, but there's a hint of old malice there, and he clicks his teeth shut hard to keep from snapping at her.† "Trapped and broken like that boy I put in the trunk...† Remember?†† In Venice?† But you got better.† ††He never did."† Dru pouts at that old memory, and Spike starts feeling for his cigarettes.

"He didn't get better 'cause you didn't feed him, love.† I told you he had to eat or he'd die.† Listen -"† Spike gets his smoke lit and takes a hard drag, and Dru watches the coal flare and die - lifts her hand up, fluttering her fingers uncomfortably close to the cherry.† The scent coming off Harris is sheer terror, and Spike reaches out and casually squeezes his shoulder - smirks when the boy starts wildly, jerking away.

"Dru - if you can fix me - we'll figure something out, right?† But you have to fix me first."† Dru pulls back, her fingertips smoking ever so slightly.† She glides away to a box sitting on a table - lifts it easily.

"I knew you were coming, Spike my love - I knew it!† So I'm all ready.† All we have to do is put a glamour on the world, and that little machine - it won't know what's true and what's not!"† At her words Spike stills, and then he follows her, pushing lightly on the box until she sets it down.

"Dru-love, you can't put a glamour on the whole world - this thing is here in my head, pet!"† Dru grins at him, and her hand reaches up to caress along the edges of his cheekbones - trace his eyebrows.

"Silly boy.† Don't question me now, Spike - I have secrets you've never heard!† Now you must sit widdershins of the North Star, and the kitten must sit deasil or it's all for nothing."† Dru turns back to her box, opening it and taking out a silver cup, a clay bowl - bits and bobs - and Spike draws furiously on the cigarette and stalks away from her.†† He sprawls down on the couch and suddenly Harris is there - Harris sits down next to him, looking freaked out and awake for the first time in days.

"Did you - are you giving me to her?† Is that what this is all about?† You dragged me down here and - and put a fuckin' spell on me and - just so your whacky girlfriend could eat me?† She's gonna fix your chip and -and I'm gonna be dead."† Harris stares at him, furious, his hands clenched hard into the knees of his baggy jeans, his whole body shaking with suppressed emotion.† "You bastard," he adds, and Spike has to laugh.

"Harris, you wanker -"

"My name's Xander, damnit!† Answer me!" Harris snaps, and Spike's eyebrow goes up in surprise.

"Look - Xander -no, I didn't bring you here to give you to Dru.† I donít know what it is she wants from you but I promise I won't let her drain you, okay?† No draining and no turning."

"Like I believe that!† You're a fuckin -"†† Harris's mouth works like he's too angry to even form the words.

*Vampire.† Evil soulless vampire.† Go on, say it Harris, end my fuckin' suspense.*

"A fucking liar and I don't believe you!† I know you're gonna kill me when she - does whatever."† Harris looks like he might actually be near tears - or near screaming, one - and Spike sits up, looking him straight in the eye.

"I keep my word, Harris.† I've always kept my word when I've given it.† I'm giving it again.† I swear to you that she will not hurt you or turn you.† And neither will I."† He just stares at the boy and Xander stares back and suddenly he slumps - looks away - and Spike wonders what the hell now.† *And why in bloody hell did I tell him THAT?† I might want to suck him dry to prove her spell worked...† Or, yeah, I might not.*

"Why did you - why am I here, Spike?† I just want to go home."† His voice is tired again - lifeless - and Spike shakes his head.

"I've told you, mate," Spike sighs, slumping back on the couch.† And he has.† For some reason it just won't stick.† *Considering you've told him in detail what you'll do when the chip's out - are you really surprised?† Considering we've hated each other for...† Well.† Not since Glory, really - not since BEFORE that, really...*† †That's a whole new concept to Spike - one he hadn't really thought about, for some reason.† *Old habits,* †he thinks, and flicks a glance at Dru.

"Tell me why again, maybe I'll finally understand the super-secret vampire code your using," Harris snaps, and Spike gropes for his flask - stops when Dru turns to him, a frown drawing her eyebrows down.

"None of that, Spike," she calls, crumbling something into the clay bowl.† "You can have you Aqua Vitae when we're done and not before."† She looks at a small bone thoughtfully - snaps it in half.†† "Tell kitten what he wants to hear, my darling - can't you hear his heart breaking into pieces?† You've got to mend it quick or he'll never wear the golden spurs."†† She nods, still frowning, and turns back to her work, humming tunelessly under her breath.† Spike just stares at her for a moment, and then he looks over at Harris, who is - who is looking uncomfortable and a little belligerent.

*Bloody hell.† And what am I supposed to make of all THAT?† Dru, I love you but I wish you could tell the bloody difference between signal and noise, sometimes.*

"Look, Harris -"

"Xander.† Harris is my father."† Mouth in a hard line but heart pounding fast, and Spike files that away for future reference.†

"All right.† Xander.† I brought you along because - because you were wasted on the Hellmouth!† You kept - fighting and saving your friends and - and working - and it was all so bloody boring!† Look -"†† Spike leans forward and Harris - Xander - leans back just a little and then stills.† "You don't have to play second fiddle to the Slayer's funeral march, you know?† You don't have to - beg for scraps from them.† I know what that's like, Xander, and it just grinds you down and grinds you down until you're..."

"The zeppo," Xander says softly, and Spike blinks.

"Yeah - I suppose.† Listen.† You backed the bloody Angelus down - don't you remember?† In the hospital.† He raved about that for days.† Was fuckin' hilarious.† And you brought the Slayer back to life that one time, too - and you came into the lion's den - got the Watcher out...† I saw you, you know."†† Spike fingers the flask in his pocket, glancing at Dru, and then lights another cigarette off his first in irritation - pinches the butt out.

"How do you know about Buffy?" Xander asks, and Spike grins at him.

"The Watcher knows sod-all about chains and vampires.† Not like I stayed in that bloody bath when he wasn't there.† I read his Watcher's diaries."

"You did?† I'm - in there?" Xander asks, wide-eyed.† And then the tone of the question - the little-boy-lost quality of it - comes clear to him and he frowns - looks away.† Shuts down, and Spike blows a stream of smoke at him, making him flinch and glare over at him.

"'Course you're in there, you nit.† You saved the Slayer, didn't you?† When Souled-and-Solemn couldn't.† He wrote all sorts of things in there about you."† Spike raises an eyebrow - twists his mouth a little in a kind of leer and right on cue Xander blushes, staring at him.

"He did - not!† He - he's a -"†

"He's a child of his times, mate, and don't you forget it.† What sorts of things do you think he got up to, when the whole world was tunin' in, turnin' on and droppin' out?† He got his share of free love, mate, and no mistake."

"But - what?"† Xander looks lost and Spike has to laugh.†† He's talking, and that's good, and he's fighting, and if it takes terror of imminent death to keep him awake then they're set, because Spike can provide that in spades.

"Before your time, mate.† Just believe me when I tell you that the Watcher wasn't always a stuffed shirt and you're not so bad under those bloody awful clothes."

Another blush, practically radioactive, and Spike smirks to himself and stretches back on the couch, luxuriating in the whisper-hum of power and familiarity that is Drusilla.† The one that made him, and he supposes he'll always feel...

*Owned.† Loved.† Chosen.*†† He looks over at Xander and wonders if that's what the boy needs, and contemplates Xander Harris as a vampire.† *Could be great fun.† Bet he'd be...† But, no.† I promised.*

"Stop looking at me like that," Xander says, and Spike blinks at him - looks around for someplace to put out his cigarette and finally grinds it out on the heel of his boot.

"Like what?" he says, and Xander rubs his hands back through his hair.

"Like - like you just realized I've got the key to the chocolate factory," he says, and Spike laughs.

"Could be you do, mate."† Xander looks like he wants to say something else but Dru claps her hands sharply, standing upright by a small table where her spell components are arranged.

"Now boys, no time for that.† Come sit.† Spike - you sit here, the leopards' spot, and kitten, you sit here, the right hand of God."† Dru points imperiously and they move into position, settling cross-legged on the many carpets she's layered haphazardly over the floor.

She begins again with the humming - tuneless and deep-throated, a strange noise, and Spike watches her - watches her fine-boned, thin hands dance over the components and burn something here, drown something in wine there.† She slices her thumb with a fang and drips the blood into the mess she's made - pulls the chopstick from her hair and stirs it.† Then she picks up something, small and white, and Spike sees with discomfort it's a wafer from church - Holy Communion wafer, and it's already singeing her fingers, sending up near-invisible tendrils of fine white smoke.† She pushes the wafer into the slurry in the clay pot and then pulls it out, and it drips a muddy scarlet.

"Eat of this, for it is my body..." she whispers, and holds it out to Spike.† He casts her one incredulous glance and then opens his mouth - winces when she drops it in.† He crunches once and swallows, and it's like swallowing a live coal.† Sullen heat starts in his belly, ratcheting upwards until he's sure his torso will crack open and flame will gout out.† Xander is staring, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, and he almost laughs, but the pain is awful and a groan comes out instead.

"Dru love, it's going to kill me -"

"No, my darling boy.†† Wouldn't do that to you."† She bends over him and kisses him, and her lips are like ice.† "This will fix it.† Drink, for this is my blood," she whispers, and she's holding out the silver cup, and he can smell blood and wine and something else, and he snatches it from her - drains it in one long gulp.† Dru watches him, her eyes narrow, slightly crouched as if she's going to leap upon him at any moment.† The liquid from the cup is cool - sweet - almost weightless on his tongue and he can feel it dousing the fire - can feel the coolness spreading out from his belly exactly as the fire had a moment ago.††† He closes his eyes for a moment, it feels so good.† He licks his lips - opens his eyes again and looks at Dru.† She's shining like a negative sun - some weird white light behind her, herself a blackness with gold-glowing eyes - a twisted figure with tattered wings stretching up and out and streaming away in wisps at the ends - no real edge, just darkness bleeding into darkness, haloed by that light.†

He blinks, his mouth gone dry as dust - turns to Xander.† The boy is staring at him, head cocked over in puzzlement, and he's got that light behind him as well.† But he's something like Anubis - jackal-headed and gleaming, hung with weapons, his heart pulsing with scarlet fire, visible through ribs like silver glass.††† It's bizarre and terrifying and beautiful and he looks helplessly back at Dru - down at his own hands, which are like black smoke and grey, all twining together.† The edges of his duster, lying over his legs, have become a mix of smoke-soft feathers and long spines of a poisonous blue and he reaches to touch one.† It pricks him, and it burns.

"Spike?"† It's Xander's voice, soft but urgent, and Spike opens his eyes with difficulty.† Finds himself flat on his back, staring at the ceiling which Dru has stuck full of glow-in-the-dark stars.† Xander's dark eyes are red-rimmed and troubled, and Spike can feel a damp cloth on his forehead - on his temple.

"Xannn...." he croaks.† He coughs - swallows - tries again.† "Xan-der?"

"Yeah.† Fuck.† You okay?† God - "†† Xander sounds upset - looks upset, and Spike pushes himself ever so slowly upward, until he's sitting with his legs sprawled, arms braced between them on the rugs.† There's the smell of blood in the air, and church incense, and sex, and he looks up slowly to see Dru, standing near the window.† There's a faint glow of light coming around the edges and Spike can feel the sun, somewhere behind and to the right, just clearing the horizon.

"Dru?† What...was that?† I saw -"†† He looks at her - at Xander and shakes his head, wincing in pain.

"What did you see, Spike?† Did you see angels and devils, my sweet boy - did you see nightmares and fantasies?"† Dru is holding herself very still - is watching him - and he feels uneasy and a little sick.

"I - don't know what I saw. It was -"

"It was the world at two degrees of center.† It was the world through the looking glass.† It was - Einstein and St. Catherine and Thomas Aquinas and Hawking, Spike - gods and scientists, the devil and the deep blue sea..."† Dru lifts her hands; a warding gesture, as if Spike is preparing to strike her.

"Effulgent.† Remember, dearest love, my sweetest leper, my lovely, lovely murderer?†† Effulgent.† You'll burn out the eyes of every sinner you meet.† Take it, take it, take it, Spike!† Take it and go."†† She is trembling now - game-face and growling - and she gestures frantically towards a long hump on the floor.† A body - a human - trussed and lying there, bloody about the mouth, unconscious but breathing.

"She went out - it's the middle of the day, Spike.† You were out of it for hours."† Xander has been silent this whole time, but he is afraid, and Spike is wondering if maybe he should be, too.† Dru - is spooking him.† He pushes himself slowly upright, and takes a step towards Dru, and she shrieks and skips back - stops and holds herself, shivering and smiling - a teeth-baring sort of rictus that makes him go cold.

"Too far, love, too far.† I've turned it too far and you're spilling out all over.† Don't be here when the sun goes down, sweetling, don't, don't, don't."† She turns and flees, slamming a door between them and Spike just looks helplessly at Xander, who is trying to untie the person lying there.

"Is something wrong with me?" Spike asks, and Xander looks up at him, slowly shaking his head.

"You look the same - everything's the same.† You just - were in some kind of - coma, or something.† It was weird."† Xander can't work the knots free and he gives up, watching Spike.† Spike walks carefully towards him, his legs shaky and his head pounding.† He kneels slowly beside the person on the floor and lifts - him - by his shoulders.† He's awake now, blinking dazedly, the trussed body tensing in fear.†† Dru's scent is all over him and Spike knows she had him, before she left him here.†† And he's...different, too.† A strange sort of mist over him, writhing like snakes and his face distorts, becoming something else.†† Something leonine and alien and Spike knows it's the glamour.† The glamour that will fool the chip - make him a vampire again.† Spike leans down, mouth pressed lightly to the soft skin of the man's neck and lets the demon come forward.† He waits for a long, long moment.† Poised to strike but afraid to do it.

"Spike - don't.† Please don't.† Please, please -"†† Xander is muttering - whispering - begging - and Spike spares him one golden, emotionless glance and then he sinks his fangs in and drinks.† And it is so very, very good.

When he's done he lets the body back down onto the carpets and licks his fangs - lets the demon face slide away and looks at Xander again.† The boy is leaning back against the couch, and his eyes are dark and unhappy and wet.

"Guess I'm next, huh?† Guess -"

"Xander - I told you that I wouldn't hurt you," Spike says, and he moves until he's leaning against the couch too - leans on the boy, letting his head fall down onto Xander's shoulder, letting his body relax.††† "My head hurts.† Let's just - rest.† We'll go at sunset."

"Spike -"†† Xander whispers, agonized, and Spike burrows close - twists just enough to get his arm across Xander's waist.

"Promised, mate.† Let me be awhile, yeah?† Just let me be."

 

When they leave Dru's house the sun is just down, and Dru is silent and hidden in her bedroom - doesnít come out for anything at all.† They walk to the car and get in, and Spike starts the engine and begins to drive.† They'll go up the coast tonight, far as they can.† North, and out of here.† Xander sits slumped in the passenger seat, silent.† As they leave Rio behind and get out into the country, he puts his hand out the window and lets the air lift it - up and down, side to side.† Playing in the slipstream.

"Spike?† Did you - when was the last time you read Giles' diary?" he asks softly, and Spike grins to himself, getting his flask out so he can take a sip.

"I took a look a day or so before we left.† Why?"

"Did - did Giles say anything about - about Ben?† About me - killing Ben?"† Spike glances over at him but he's facing out the window still.† His eyes are closed.

"Yeah.† He said - he wished you hadn't had to do it.† He said..."† Spike struggles to remember, picturing the page of precise, tiny handwriting in his mind.† The Watcher's diary had continued to be a source of information for him and he'd sneaked looks every chance he got.

"He said - you did what you had to do.† That you saved the world, and that - you deserved better than you got.† He said - he was proud of you."†

Silence, and then a soft sigh.† "What did Dru mean about - golden spurs?"

"Huh?† Oh - squires, when they got knighted, they got gifts; a lance, a sword - a set of golden spurs.† Meant you were a knight, right and proper."† Spike puzzles over that - over what Dru meant.† This boy is already a white knight - promised to the cause and set on his course.† Maybe - he'll save the world again.†† Spike looks over at Xander, who's smiling now.† A soft smile, that makes him look younger, and happy for the first time in weeks.† Yeah - save the world.†† What else could a boy like that do?

Part Two - North